Business Plan

Washington Tourism Alliance

Business Plan 2011/2012

By Suzanne Fletcher

 

Executive Summary

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) was formed in 2011 and is a 501[c]6 not for profit member association.  The WTA was established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing for Washington State. The WTA procures and administers funds for statewide destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements a strategic statewide destination-marketing plan.  Current membership is approximately 300 with an annual operating fund of less than $400,000.  The immediate need of the WTA is to raise interim funding to support the Alliance until it can become a self- sustaining organization.  Our goal is to be the sole voice of the industry, and present to Olympia our industry message and model.  This will be achieved by aggressive fund raising and collaborative efforts to bring the industry together.

Mission Statement

To advocate, promote, develop and sustain the economic well being of the Washington Tourism Industry.

Objectives  

Like any organization, there is always more work to be done than resources available. WTA is no exception and will require exceptional focus to achieve our overarching objectives.  In addition WTA is time and funding constrained.  While there are many initiatives to be addressed, I have limited my objectives to what I believe are the four most critical goals for the organization through 2012

  1. Raise funding to maintain and grow the organization until a permanent funding plan is implemented.
  2. Retain current rate of tourism visits and spending.  Do not lose current market share to other states.
  3. Be the unified voice for the tourism industry in the state of Washington.
  4. Build a nimble organization of employees and dedicated volunteers that will drive key initiatives based on near term funding while building the foundation for the future.

Raise funding to maintain and grow the organization until a permanent funding plan is selected.

This initiative will be a joint effort between the Executive Director and the Membership Committee.  The five potential revenue streams we have identified are:

Membership: With our new value proposition and clearly articulated benefits we expect to double our membership by the end of the first quarter for 2012.  This effort will be supported by our new membership kits, formalized target list, and hiring a sales professional by January of 2012.  This category includes individual memberships and company memberships.  We will also provide a renewal membership package for 2012 by end of first quarter.  As stated before, public speaking and outreach will play a key role in increasing membership also.

Fundraising/Partnerships: This category begins with $10K commitments and because of that, a solid ROI exclusive to the higher levels has been drafted.  Target companies, organizations, and individuals must be identified (tourism and non-tourism related) and at least 15 personal solicitation visits/asks will be completed by mid December.

Goals: A goal of $1.3 million is the goal for end of the fiscal year.  The quarterly breakdown is $201,400 will be raised by end of first quarter, $657,000 (cumulative )by end of second quarter, and $1.132 million (cumulative) end of third quarter.  The fund raising will begin in mid-November 2011 and I plan on raising $150,000 by year-end, and will be measured at the end of 2012.

Events: Events are a critical component to fund-raising.  The Summit event will be a repeat effort in March 2012.  We were considering an east/west version, but determined a single event would be more impactful and cost effective.  We have the ability to host a variety of other themed events, geographically diverse and tailored to the audience.  Regional events such as wine auctions, boat cruises, golf outings, etc. will be strategically placed through out the state.  The goal is to complete four fundraising events by fall of 2012.

Marketing: The industry and the public need to be aware of the current state of Washington tourism.  We will have a fast facts and media kit available for internal (Board members and staff) and for external stakeholders to reference when being approached by media by end of year. Media protocol will be defined. With the completion of the media kits, we will begin evaluating media partners that will have offered co- provide marketing/cobranding opportunities, and our goal for that time line is end of first quarter. Involvement in industry activities will include carefully selected tradeshows, events, conferences where we need to have presence.  That will be an ongoing project along with the launch of our social media fund raising campaign.

Media: Closely tied to the above, we are seeking advertising and membership opportunities utilizing the website, social media, and printed materials.

Retain current rate of tourism visits and spending.  Do not lose current market share to other states.

With our neighboring States and British Columbia increasing their tourism promotion and marketing budgets, it is all the more difficult to maintain momentum. This is a mission critical initiative to be shared across all WTA staff and committee volunteers. We have to exploit the assets and capabilities we currently have and utilize our volunteer efforts to maintain our position, specifically the following:

Technology: We recognize the amazing statistics regarding the return on electronic media spending versus print media, so our number one effort will be to maximize social media as a lower cost marketing option, while simultaneously moving forward with the Washington State website.  Our efforts will include:

  • Expand the use of social media through mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, iPhone applications and QR codes.  This will be completed by end of 2011. The Marketing & Communications Committee and the Executive Director will execute.
  • Website development thru an understanding of the current state.  At present, our learnings have shown us that we must look at this as a two step process, the asset transition process leading to the website redesign process.   This entire process is estimated to be complete by the end of 2012.
  • Enhance the current performance (speed and efficiency) of the website thru a more user friendly platform.  This will be completed by mid year 2013
  • Enhance the current end-user experience with a streamlined navigation process, comprehensive maps, accurate and timely data. This will be completed by end of second quarter 2012.
  • Adopt a web site analytics system to measure visitor behavior (CRM and CMS by end of year).
  • Establish regional content committees for content review and submissions, making the information continually fresh and accurate. Since training will be required, this will be completed by March of 2012.

Marketing: Our brand is our unique and specific identity and we need to maximize that identity.  An incredible opportunity exists to expand our brand perception to wines, hiking, skiing and other indoor/outdoor adventures. “Experience Washington”  is a wonderful tag line that the WTA owns, and therefore can leverage to build upon. The Marketing Committee is responsible for delivering a plan to expand the brand perception while leveraging existing assets to include:

  • Define our brand strategy
  • Attend the “correct” shows and conferences that will have a trackable ROI and facilitate cooperative sales opportunities
  • Review current assets and contracts to maximize their value
  • Develop a statewide publicity team for maintaining current PR activities
  • Utilize current website for immediate outreach
  • Exploit social media

Communications: We can never underestimate the power of communication and transparency in a membership/volunteer organization.  Our membership needs to know what activities are taking place, where their money is being spent, offerings, and progress to-date (good news and bad).  Transparency and frequency of communication will be the measure of success.  The following activities are taking place and are considered an ongoing requirement.

  • Bi-monthly web site newsletter from the Director
  • Posting pertinent Tourism Alliance information on the website
  • Social media almost daily (Facebook and Twitter)
  • Open forums and meetings (Affiliated partners, trade associations, Chamber of Commerce, DMOs) as needed

Research: In the past the State has been financing research, which has been a valuable tool for constituents.  While we would like to continue this offering, funding is too limited to provide it at the state and local levels.  For 2012, WTA will purchase the research at the state level only, asking local DMOs to provide their own.  Our goal is to be more financially sound by 2013, and will re-address future funding at that time.  These contracts will need to be renegotiated or new contracts must be considered. The Smith Travel Research (STR) contract was paid through June of 2012 by the State.  At that time, the WTA will evaluate its ability to fund STR.

Outreach: Outreach to regional government officials, partners, trade associations, DMOs, etc. is critical to our success.  While the time investment in outreach is extensive, the value is there.  We have underestimated the amount of angst that is in the current environment.  Also, to date, we have not had a solid ROI to offer them so we must make every effort to build up credibility.  Our outreach programs are building the bridge and developing trust.  The Round Tables will be completed by mid-October, while Industry speaking requests continue to mount.

Media: We need to maximize our coverage in the press (print, TV, radio). This ongoing task must reach all levels of media (local, national, and international), and all types (print, electronic).  This will be an ongoing initiative by the Executive Director and the WTA Board.

Be the unified voice for the tourism industry in the state of Washington.

This is a critical element to our success.  We have been told by Olympia that we must unite and speak with a single voice, sending a single cohesive message if we choose to move forward with potential legislation.  The tourism industry is fractured by geography and varied agendas.  We must overcome these challenges by listening, staying focused, negotiating and working for a common goal.  We must renew the trust in the resources dedicated to attracting Washington State tourism, and build long term valued relations with key constituents. This will be accomplished by attending industry events, sharing the WTA value proposition, working with the local DMOs to assist in the dissemination of information, hosting co-sponsored events, and hosting WTA events to share and deliver our message.

We must work with Saga City to communicate our single message in every publication.  This will be managed by the Editorial Board and the Executive Director.

The Executive Director, with assistance of a sub-contracted lobbyist, will set meetings with State Legislators and officials to introduce the proposed plan established by the Long Term Funding Committee and solicit their support.  The Executive Director will continue to support media requests and other opportunities to educate the public and the Legislators on the mission of the WTA.

Build a nimble organization of employees and dedicated volunteers that will drive key initiatives based on near term funding while building the foundation for the future.

The following bullets outline the key operational components of the WTA organization including:

  • In depth review of other state’s funding models and evaluate who if any can be considered for the State of Washington
  • Evaluate and determine appropriate staffing models
  • Hire sales and support staff within the budget parameters
  • Manage day to day operations and staff
  • Attend committee meetings when available
  • Meet Board specifications
    • Clarify roles and expectation of Board members
    • Set up and conduct scheduled Board meetings
    • Manage content and preparations for Board retreat
  • Work with Long Term Funding Committee to create a long term funding plan
  • Manage the WTA budget
    • Actualizing true costs of current state
    • Maintaining a balanced budget
  • Help develop the short term/long term marketing and communications plan in  conjunction with the committee
  • Manage smooth and audit-able transition of state assets, including the website
  • Determine realistic budget for the website
    • Evaluate alternative funding model
    • Evaluate and select appropriate provider/vendor
    • Seek out pro-bono opportunities
  • Establish call center
    • Create alternative model
    • Select provider/vendor
    • Review potential revenue streams
  • Continual communication to all stakeholders
    • Members
    • Potential members
    • Board
    • Employees
    • Partners

OBJECTIVES SCORE CARD

 1.       Raise money to maintain the organization until a permanent funding plan is selected.

INITIATIVE TIMING MEASURE COMMENTS ADJUSTED/STATUS
Increase membership/sponsorship Q3/2012 X3 increase in membership sales/sponsorship dollars (currently 230 to 700) Creative partnerships & valued sponsorship offerings  
Host Fundraising Events By end of Q3/2011 Hosting five regional events plus Summit. Raise >$25k each event. Through out State Planning 4 plus Summit by end of Q3
Sell advertising on Experience WA Q3/2012 Sold ten banner ads on web site. Waiting for confirmation of front page capability  
Leverage radio, TV and print media to raise awareness of WTA By end of Q2/2012 Better than neutral in tone. >3.5 This is accomplished by measuring number of hits where WTA is mentioned. Each hit.. tone will be accessed 1-5.  

2.      Retain current rate of tourism.  Do not lose current market share.

INITIATIVE TIMING MEASUREMENT COMMENTS ADJUSTED/STATUS
Enhance User Experience on Website Q2/2012 Streamline clicks

Reduce unnecessary content

Appoint regional reps for content mgt.

  Delete “streamline clicks” per web committee
Link content to Visitors Guide beyond the business listings Q1/2012 Project completed and accessible to user    
Add CRM database Q4/2012 Reports driven by Q1/2013    
Enhance Social Media Twitter/Facebook-increase visits Q4/2011 Two or more Twitter entries a week.

Increase Facebook users by 100%

Currently 3200 followers on Facebook.

Twitter has 6474 following.

 
Design & implement iPhone app Q4/2011 App is up and operational.  Shooting for 1000 downloads in first 6 months   Delayed to first quarter
Attend strategic trade show/events Q1 & Q/2 2012   POW WOW and NTA, Go West Will not be attending Go West

3.      Be the unified voice for the tourism industry in the state of Washington.

INITIATIVE TIMING BY COMMENTS ADJUSTED/

STATUS

Join/participate in industry events On going Attending WRA, WLA, WSDMO events    
Host Industry Leaders event to educate on WTA Q1/2012 Personal invitations to Summit Meeting Goal for attendance is 800.  Personal invites to 25 industry leaders.  
Work closely with Long Term Funding Committee Q1/2012 Attending LTF meetings and drive decision on models by bringing in guest speakers  to present Will be asked to present and review successes/mistakes and potential for WA  
Work closely with Long Term Funding Committee Q3/2012 Evaluate state’s presentations. Make recommendations no later than 30 days after. Design implementation plan and present to board by 2nd quarter 2012. Prepare presentation for upcoming Legislative session.   Will present LTF blueprint at the Summit, April 5th.
Work with Government Affairs Consultant to promote WTA January-March 2012 Up to 10 personal meetings with legislators in Olympia during session.  Educate them on value and importance to economic development Face to face to build awareness of LTF committee’s goals. Government Affairs Consultant to be announced Government Affairs Consultant to be announced by April/May 2012.

 4.      Build a nimble organization that can drive key initiatives based on near term funding while building the foundation for the future organization.

INITIATIVE TIMING MEASUREMENT COMMENTS ADJUSTED/STATUS
Review other states models Q4/2011 Invite 2 – 4 pertinent speakers to present to LTF committee    
Establish Call Center Q4/2011 Operational Jan 1    
Determine staffing requirements Q4/2011 Appropriate staffing to contractor ratio May all be contractors Only be hiring contractors
Work with Committee Chairs   for continual improvement On Going Attend 75% of committee meetings thru first year to confirm similar goals with parent organization.  Hold bi-monthly touch base calls with Chairs Keep all committees on track with direction given by the Board. Standing meetings with committee chairs prior to exec committee meetings
Manage budget On going Monthly    
Develop Board Q4/2011 Hold retreat.

Develop strategic plan, finalize business plan, 2012 budget approved

   
Place cooperative ad in media By end of Q1/2012 Successful campaign that markets WA as a tourist destination. Target Portland and British Columbia  
Develop& execute consumer & trade  marketing plan for 2012 By end of Q3/2012 Will align with LTF goals.

Will align with collected revenue

Primary role of organization is to be the marketing agency for the state of WA