Submitted by: Guy Occhiogrosso of the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce

Whatcalendar.com is back and better than ever. As many of you know (and probably experienced), this online community event calendar operated by the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce had some technical difficulties during the winter. The dual branded online tool serves our community as the largest online calendar dedicated to promoting both community and tourism-related events in Whatcom County. The calendar can be found at both URLs: www.whatcalendar.com and www.bhamevent.com.

“If we did our job well, you (the user) will not realize it is much different than before,” says Guy Occhiogrosso, President/CEO of the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We wanted it to look the same to the general public, even though the internal system has completely changed. Our long-time users will need to learn the new system, but the team searched for a few months for a platform that would serve this unique use while being user friendly to both the viewer as well as the event organizer.”

The original purpose of the dedicated tool is still to provide the community with a simple, dedicated online event calendar. The priority of the calendar is for the public to be able to access and find events happening in Whatcom County.

The secondary purpose is for the calendar to be used by the multiple nonprofit organizations and event planners in the county to help schedule major events. The long-term goal of this tool is that we can help shape the “calendar of events” that happen in the community. “The Bellingham region is so large that we will always have multiple events on the same day. For our families and tourists alike, this isn’t necessarily a bad situation. But where we find the issues are when we have large fundraisers and community awareness events happening on the same day. We hope to curb these scheduling overlaps by building a larger program around the calendar,” Occhiogrosso said.

From an insider’s perspective, these were not the only reasons whatcalendar.com was created. The Chamber is and has always been “the front door to the community.” Over the years, many community tasks have fallen to the chamber to the point we are now experts in many different facets of community and business development. As we further engage in a digital world, we need to use tools as efficiently as we can. A decision based upon this new normal was that we could effectively operate two separate online calendars. As a business member association, the chamber operates a member-oriented calendar at www.bellingham.com. This meant the chamber needed to create a separate calendar for community events. To streamline the initiative, a website would be created exclusively dedicated to the calendar itself.

The calendar exists for engaging, organizing, and informing our community. We have partner organizations in the community that also operate calendars, such as Bellingham Whatcom Tourism. Their calendar at bellingham.org is a great tool for visitors as their calendar showcases many events that welcome tourists as well as county residents alike. Even though whatcalendar.com can be used by tourists, it is certainly not the primary use. We encourage our community events to post to both calendars as well as other community calendars. If you are in one of the smaller cities, be sure to post your event to the local chamber calendar. For those community events and fundraisers engaging the Bellingham region specifically, we ask that you add your events to the calendar, so we can all work together to help make this corner of the world an even better place.

As we move into fall, be sure to look for educational opportunities hosted by the chamber and a chance for you to network with other event coordinators. In the meantime, post your events to www.whatcalendar.com. The new and improved version should last us well into the future with a more stable internal structure. We would like to thank Print & Copy Factory for all their help in rebuilding the calendar and walking us through the decision points to find the best solution.

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