WTA Names David Blandford as Interim Executive Director

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) announced the appointment of David Blandford as its Interim Executive Director, effective May 4, 2020. Blandford will lead the organization’s marketing activities in addition to a growing range of initiatives related to COVID-19, including tourism industry recovery and crisis communications.

“David has in-depth knowledge of Washington tourism, the current challenges we face, an optimistic, pragmatic view for the future, and excellent relationships with our stakeholders here in the state as well as across the country and internationally,” said Shiloh Burgess, WTA Chair. “He is the ideal person to take the helm for the WTA at this time, having served on our Board of Directors since 2012 and as Co-Chair since 2018.” He joins veteran WTA staff members Mike Moe, Managing Director, and Diana Thibado, Director of Operations. The team of three will lead WTA marketing and operations with a concerted emphasis in COVID-19 tourism industry recovery and business mitigation.

“We’ve had the opportunity to closely work with David as Co-Chair over the past two years,” said Moe. “We’re excited about the continuity of his leadership and the future of the WTA.” Blandford was part of the industry group that fought to preserve state tourism office funding in 2009-2010 and inaugurated the Washington Tourism Alliance to re-establish tourism funding after the tourism office closed in 2011. 

A 30-year veteran of the tourism industry, Blandford brings extensive marketing, communications and public affairs experience at the local, state and national travel and tourism industry levels. He began his industry career running press trips across Washington State as part of a contract with the state tourism office. In his tenure with the Seattle News Bureau and Visit Seattle, Blandford worked extensively with the state tourism office and the private sector industry to promote Washington State and its various destinations in both domestic and international markets. 

He most recently served as Senior Vice President, Public Affairs at Visit Seattle, 2017-2020. He previously held several other positions with the organization including Vice President, Communications and Director of Public Relations. During his tenure, he gained extensive experience with destination marketing, brand development, destination research, consumer and industry social media, web site development, blog creation and management and photography and video production. 

Blandford led PR missions in European and Asian tourism markets and worked in tandem with a broader travel trade team in the city, state and with partnering states. He wrote Visit Seattle’s crisis communications plan and managed events and business recovery initiatives related to WTO, the Nisqually earthquake, 9/11 and the 2008 recession. 

He is a long-time member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Communications Committee, actively supporting and defending the national travel and tourism industry through policy, public affairs and communications. Blandford is a current member of Destination International’s Advocacy Committee and a 20-year member of the Society of American Travel Writers and Public Relations Society of American, serving in various leadership roles with both associations. 

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Blandford. “This industry needs support, and we’ll need to find new ways to promote and sustain travel during the ongoing COVID-19 issue. I’m committed to both, and to working with our industry partners.”

Covid-19 Travel and Tourism Articles from Around the World

COVID-19: GOVERNOR ORDERS STAY HOME, STAY HEALTHY ORDER

Dear Partner, On Sunday March 22, Governor Inslee issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in place for a minimum of two weeks.
This proclamation will:

  • Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity
  • Ban all public and private gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes
  • Close all businesses except essential businesses

The order states that Washingtonians can still participate in outdoor activities like bike rides, hikes, and working in their yard, as long as they maintain proper social distancing or at least six feet from each other. Essential businesses will remain open including grocery stores and pharmacies. Many tourism-related businesses were also deemed essential including hotels, rental car companies and many transportation organizations, as well as restaurant take-out and curbside services.
By this evening, March 25, all non-essential businesses must close. Teleworking from home is still allowed. Businesses can visit the Washington State Business Re-Entry Registration website to clarify or certify status, or to petition their non-essential status. They would still need to implement social distancing rules of at least six feet. Read more about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation.

Business Resources – Covid-19 3/20/20

The impact of the coronavirus is starting to become clearer and the results for our industry are grim. The closure of restaurants, attractions and entertainment venues mean that small business owners all over our state are going to have to do what they can to weather the storm. In the meantime, the WTA will do everything we can to our businesses survive this upheaval and then thrive when the time comes to reignite our industry.

As you know, the travel and tourism industry has been hit disproportionately hard in this crisis. It’s important to document the losses so we’re able to present a full picture to legislators and members of congress when they begin to allocate resources. Please take 5 minutes to fill out the following surveys:

WTA Survey – All answers will remain confidential.

US Travel Survey which includes an easy communication to your members of congress

Washington State is starting to mobilize to help small business owners get through this trying time. Please click here for Employment Security Department resources including:

Click here for resources from the Association of Washington Businesses, including information about a business impact webinar on March 23rd.

Click here for resources from Governor Inslee which includes disaster loan information and employer and worker assistance.

In the coming days, please look for a new project from the WTA to help Washingtonians show their love for their favorite tourism-related businesses.

If we work together our industry will get through this crisis and come out of it stronger than ever before.

Business Resources COVID-19 3/12/20

The Washington Tourism Alliance continues to monitor the impacts of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and is actively communicating and coordinating with Washington State Department of Commerce, Port of Seattle, Visit Seattle and other partners.  We will continue to work with  Washington’s tourism industry during this challenging time, and will work with Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce to support community mitigation efforts in our state and bolster business recovery efforts for tourism businesses. Below are some resources and ways that you can assist the industry response.  

Consumer Travel Advisory

Feel free to refer visitors to a Covid-19 travel advisory we’ve posted on WTA’s consumer travel web site.  This advisory is updated daily. 

Travel Industry Messages

Travel industry organizations urge fact-based decision–making

U.S. Travel Association Covid-19 Tool Kit and Messages

Resources for Washington State Businesses

General COVID-19 Information

How You Can HelpWTA is monitoring and reporting Covid-19 impact to the tourism industry. Please let the WTA know if the following happens in your community:

  • Closure of tourism-related businesses
  • Cancellation of events
  • Other major disruptions of business

Please email mike@watourismalliance.com with this information or any questions

WTA NEWSLETTER – September

THE WTA ANNOUNCES THE HIRING OF EARTH AND SKY STUDIOS AS INTERIM MARKETING CONTRACTOR
Mike Moe, Managing Director

The WTA is pleased to announce the hiring of Earth and Sky Studios, led by Jenn Tate, as its new marketing contractor. For the next 6 months, Jenn and her team will help the WTA assess current marketing initiatives, reignite the social media program, improve website and newsletter performance, expand the photo and video library, and get ready for the new brand launch in Spring of 2020.

Jenn Tate – Earth and Sky Studios

Earth and Sky Studios is a small creative agency located in North Central Washington that boasts a 20-year track record of delivering results to businesses and organizations of all types and sizes. It’s work includes integrated creative development, strategic planning, collaborative advertising campaigns, robust digital media management, collateral materials, and more.

With a passion for tourism, destination marketing, economic growth and ultimately the long-term success of small businesses, organizations, and events, Jenn is a dynamic, creative, and competent leader whose mission is to help Washington State Tourism succeed, grow and flourish.

“We’re excited to welcome Jenn Tate as a member of our statewide tourism marketing team,” said David Blandford, WTA co-chair. “She brings the right mix of strategic thinking, marketing expertise, and creativity to our efforts – she’s perfect fit for WTA at this critical juncture in our development.”

“We are so happy to be able to work with the WTA, the regional DMOs, and destinations across the entire state,” said Jenn. “We can’t wait to gather stories, images, video, content, and everything we can to help the WTA make Washington State a bucket-list destination for visitors from around the nation and the globe!”

DARRELL BRYAN 1948 – 2019

Darrell Bryan, former CEO of Clipper Navigation and WTA Board Member, passed away on September 7th after a battle with bone cancer. Born in Long Beach, CA, Darrell moved around the US and Canada in his younger years before completing his undergraduate degree at Washington State University in 1971.

He went to work for Amtrak for 14 years, living in 8 different cities. At the same time, Darrell completed his MBA at St. Mary’s and the School of Executive Management at the University of Virginia.

Darrell Bryan

Darrell and his young family then settled down in Seattle, where he was hired by Clipper Navigation, a new startup company providing passenger ferry service between Seattle, San Juan and Victoria, BC. He started as the second employee, but eventually became President, CEO and partial owner for 29 years.

In addition to joining the WTA board in 2011, Darrell was tapped for several other prestigious positions including by the US Secretary of Commerce to serve on the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in 2014. In 2016, he accepted an interim CEO role at Interferry, an international organization of worldwide ferry operators. He also joined the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and Kitsap Transit in 2018.

As a WTA Board Member, Darrell was known for his humor and kindness, but also for moving the conversation forward when needed. “There are two types of people in this world,” said former WTA Board Member and CEO of Argosy Cruises, Kevin Clark. “People who light up a room when they walk in and those that light up a room when they walk out.  Darrell was someone that truly brightened a gathering when he entered the room.  Hospitality and service was in his DNA.”

Darrell is survived by his wife Cathleen of 48 years and sons Patrick and Matthew. In lieu of flowers, please give in memory of Darrell Bryan to Swedish Medical Center at https://www.swedishtributegifts.org/darrellbryan. 

EXPERIENCEWA NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS GROW IN 2019

The subscriber base of the ExperienceWA newsletter has grown considerably in 2019, while maintaining an engagement rate far higher than the industry average. The subscriber base has been bolstered by a sign-up mechanism attached to ordering the Official Washington Visitors’ Guide. This provides for a subscriber base who have already proved their interest in traveling to Washington.

As you plan for 2020, make sure to include advertising in the monthly newsletter. Improvements to the newsletter are coming, so lock in your position now. Each month there is only one Sponsor position available for $750 ($825 for non-members) and they go fast! Featured Content positions are also available. To learn more, click here for the ExperienceWA media kit. Contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or 425-444-0589 to set up your campaign.

GET A DISCOUNT TO ATTEND THE NORTHWEST EVENT TRADE SHOW! SAVE 25%!

The WTA is sponsoring the Northwest Event Show Nov 13-14 and YOU benefit. See where events are headed-at the 2019 Northwest Event Show. The Northwest Event Show is the place to access advanced educational sessions, meet expert speakers, discover new ideas and tools for innovation, and connect with the event community.

For your discount use code: WTA25VIP

25% Off All Show Passes

Register now here!

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES

Want to brag about something your destination was recently recognized for? Have news that impacts Washington State tourism? Please add the WTA to your distribution news list! We’re always looking for story ideas for the WTA monthly newsletter! To submit a story idea, email Diana Thibado at diana@watourismalliance.com.

Washington State Tourism Brand RFP

The Washington Tourism Alliance is happy to announce the release of an RFP to find a qualified entity with branding expertise to create a statewide tourism marketing brand. A copy of the RFP can be found here. The RFP includes the objective, scope of work, submission requirements, budget, timeline and selection process.

We wanted to make sure that you as tourism professionals had a copy of this document. Please feel free to circulate it to anyone who you think might be interested and qualified. Thanks for your assistance in getting the word out!

The WTA is seeking a Marketing Contractor

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL

Marketing Contractor

May 15, 2019

Responsible for identifying market opportunities and developing short and long-term marketing strategies with objective of attracting overnight business and promoting destination awareness and brand recognition across Washington state.  Additionally, present campaign strategies, executions and insights to internal and external stakeholders.

Creative Responsibilities:

  • Develop and manage multi-channel, regional and national leisure advertising and/or  marketing campaigns
    • Including media plans, creative, budget, reporting, etc.
    • Track all campaign activities and ROI for reporting purposes
  • Manage day-to-day activity of outsourced marketing agency
    • Including media plans, creative and billing
    • Track all campaign activities for reporting purposes
  • Assist/work in tandem with communications committee in managing travel media relations
    • Media database and clipping service
    • Release and newsletter distribution
  • Present campaign plans and insights to WTA Board/Marketing Committee and internal/external stakeholders

Social Media:

  • Lead the social media team:
    • Be the voice of the state when appropriate
    • Identify new opportunities to grow fans and followers
    • Look for ways to integrate different channels of social media into all aspects of the business

Brand development/Implementation:

  • Assist in development of the state destination brand
  • In conjunction with agency, develop brand tool kit and essential platforms
  • Be a brand steward, ensure continuity in our marketing message and voice

Web Site:

  • Manage and continuously enhance and improve Experiencewa.com by adding features, evaluating analytics, speaking with stakeholders and researching competitors (in industry and out).

Digital Content:

  • Develop suite of prepared digital content in various formats
  • Create needed digital content across WTA programs, or as appropriate for partner uses
  • Develop and implement digital marketing campaigns

Miscellaneous:

  • Work with WTA board, members and partners to create strategic marketing partnerships
  • Utilize research to provide perspective on market opportunity growth
  • Stay up-to-date on marketing, advertising and social media trends to ensure marketing department stays inspired and current
  • Research and stay current on competitive landscape – provide perspective on creating points of differentiation
  • Perform other related duties and assignments as required

Contract Requirements:

Four-year degree from an academic institution or comparable work experience

Five+ years of related experience in senior- level marketing

Excellent interpersonal, writing, presenting and communications skills

Experience managing advertising campaigns either from client-side or agency-side required

Experience in travel and tourism marketing

Knowledge of marketing as related to the travel and tourism industry

Knowledge of the travel and tourism industry and its importance to the state economy; ability to understand the role of WTA across the state

Strong organizational and time management skills; ability to handle multiple tasks and projects simultaneously.

Ability to exercise initiative, judgment, diplomacy and maintain confidentiality in a wide variety of internal and public situations.

  • Excellent interpersonal, writing and communications skills
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Proficiency in Word, Excel and Outlook
  • Contractor must have State of Washington Business License showing UBI number and have been in business for at least three years
  • Ability to work remotely for extended periods, as needed

Schedule and Terms:

  • Contract is from June 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019 for a fee not to exceed $50,000 or $8,333.33 monthly
  • Contractor shall provide progress reports monthly
  • Contractor shall provide a Certificate of Insurance for Commercial General Liability and Automobile Liability with limits no less than $1,000,000 for each

Apply here

Contact: Mike Moe, mike@watourismalliance.com

NEW EXPERIENCEWA.COM GRANT PROGRAM

The Washington Tourism Alliance is pleased to announce a new grant program dedicated to helping rural communities in Washington not served by a regional destination marketing organization. Businesses or organizations in these communities will have an opportunity to showcase their business or event through ExperienceWA marketing programs for FREE!Throughout the summer, each month the WTA will select three individual qualified applicants for the following opportunities:

Deals page: If your business or organization has a deal to promote this summer, like a 2 for 1 or a discount, this is the perfect option. Most travelers are still looking for special offers when planning a trip, and the traffic on our deals page proves it! Click here to see the current special offers on the ExperienceWA deals page. Value: $450

Featured Content: On the first Wednesday of every month, we send our monthly newsletter to about 30,000 very active subscribers. Each month our newsletter achieves an open rate of 20% or more! That’s an outstanding rate for this type of email. You will get a picture, headline, and description of your event or business. This is a great way to target a certain month! Value: $660

Banner Ad program: Your business or event will get 14,000 Formatted Banner ads and 21,000 300×250 ads. Compelling banner ads are a highly effective way to get the word out especially for events. Value $1,100

Please note that this program is only open to businesses or organizations in rural communities not represented by a regional destination marketing organization. To apply, download the application here and email the completed application to Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com by May 20th.