Executive Director Update – 2.10.12

Executive Director Update

February 10, 2012

I always want to start out by saying “it’s been a busy few weeks,” but they are all busy and productive weeks at the WTA! There is so much progression in committees, increased press, and public speaking opportunities. The list just goes on and on… But I would be remiss if I didn’t start out every newsletter with one comment… THE VOLUNTEERS… AMAZING DEDICATION AND AMAZING PEOPLE! We can’t thank you enough.

I need to begin by introducing the new face in town! We are very excited to announce that Brianna Mark is joining our team and will be a very familiar voice and face to the WTA. Brianna comes to us with years of DMO and meeting and events experience. She hasn’t had much down time since she started, but I do hope you take a minute and say hello and introduce yourself through email or in person, she can be contacted at bmark@watourismalliance.com .

At the top of our list for today’s newsletter is the save the date sent earlier this week for our 2nd annual Summit on April 5th at the SeaTac Hilton and Conference Center. We have some great speakers and success stories to share along with our proposed marketing plan and our long term funding blue print. The attendance is limited to 800, so do register early to confirm a spot. The invitations will be coming out electronically next week. There will be preferred pricing for WTA members just in case you needed another reason to join. And yes, we will have a membership table at the conference! Please spread the word and do plan on attending.

I invite you all to visit our greatly improved WTA website! Yes, the www.watourismalliance.com website has a whole new look and it is fantastic! I want to thank Chris Murphy, with Seabrook Land Company, for offering to spruce up the current site. However you will see… it is well beyond a spruce up! Chris spent countless hours and weekends completely redesigning the entire site and putting us in a whole new league. Thank you again Chris!

Everyone is very anxious for the launch of our new Official Washington State Visitors’ Guide. Space deadline for the 2012 edition is in the next few days, so be sure to reserve your ad and get your business in front of visitors looking for places to shop, eat, play and stay all across our great state.  Don’t miss being part of this signature marketing piece for the Washington Tourism Alliance.  Contact Jeff Adams at SagaCity Media today!  jadams@sagacitymedia.com or 206-957-2234 ext 107

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Summit/Events

As I mentioned earlier, our 2nd annual WTA Summit will be held on April 5th at the Sea-Tac Hilton and Conference Center. The event will begin with registration and continental breakfast at 7:00am. The Summit will be held from 8:30am-3:30pm.

The pricing will be $75 for WTA members and $100 for non-members. After March 29th the pricing will be $95 and $120 respectively. The Hilton has graciously extended us a highly discounted rate of $119 per night for those of you needing overnight accommodations.

We are very excited to announce a welcome reception will be held at the Museum of Flight on April 4th . Transportation will be provided to the museum from the Hilton. Driving directions will be provided with the invitation. I want to thank Meagan McGuire from the Museum of Flight for jumping at the opportunity to put a dynamic evening together for us. It was an idea one day, and reality the next. What a great effort Meagan…thank you again.

The committee is also working on five fundraising events throughout the state, and I promise to have more information in our next newsletter. Thank you to Committee Chair, Christina Pivarnik for all her hard work!

Long Term Funding

The Long Term Funding Committee continues its quest to find a funding mechanism that is non-governmental, broad-based in terms of industry sectors, and straightforward/simple in its structure and composition. We had a productive work session with Bill Klein of Dean Runyan Associates and Bill is currently configuring an assessment funding model with varying thresholds as a possible option. We plan on involving the various industry sectors (and their related trade associations) in determining the most appropriate or acceptable method(s) for assessing the funds from their members. We also met with Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California in an effort to gather more information on the California tourism model. Our goal continues to be to have a draft funding structure for discussion by the Summit on April 5th.  

Please take special note: There appears to be ongoing rumors to the effect that our committee and the WTA will be seeking funding by raiding the funds in TPAs throughout the state.  Not only is this untrue and without any merit, but it also casts a negative light on the efforts of the Alliance, and the process of trying to seek a method of long term funding for those efforts. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about this.

Marketing Committee

New committee chair George Sharp, with Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater CVB, outlined his thoughts on the committee and moving forward: His goals for the committee are: Be organized, focused and action orientated on both short term and long term goals. So far…he is right on task! He is creating an FAQ’s sheet and will keep it updated as questions are asked.

Chris Murphy reported on his strategy for the social media aspect of the marketing Committee; as well as work on Facebook and Twitter accounts. Chris is adding the Constant Contact sign up for the e-newsletter button on the Facebook account. He is also setting up a schedule for volunteers to populate the social media accounts. He will be offering a training session on social media and how he suggest we use it.  Dates and information will be forthcoming.

Mary Monroe with the City of Lynnwood has volunteered to help with the WTA matrix to show the big picture and what is being accomplished by WTA committees. The matrix will show: Action items, deliverables, description, contacts, and deadlines. George will create an Industry Tool Kit that will show “how to engage and benefit from Washington Tourism Alliance with its current assets. The Tool Kit will be delivered by the Tourism Summit-via on line.

Brent Hunter is creating a matrix with a link to all state tourism strategic and marketing plans that the committee will review as it makes a recommendation and suggested strategic marketing plan for Washington state. Dave Evans is assisting with a Brand review subcommittee to evaluate the current brand tool kit, how it has been utilized in the state and recommendations for moving forward.

The committee is also putting together the inventory of all marketing taking place in the state. They will reach out to WTA board and DMO network to ask them to submit what they know is taking place. An official plan is being created and sent to those who are trying to sell to WTA, their products, advertising, etc. to ask them what can they do for WTA vs. what can WTA do for them.

The committee has met twice in 2012 and is moving forward with creating a strategic marketing plan to be showcased at the Tourism Summit. The subcommittees are hard at work creating an industry tool kit to provide the tools and strategies to partner in the current social media activities and public relations program. The committee is doing a brand analysis for recommendations for future efforts.

Website Committee

No surprise, but the website updates are constantly underway. Much of what is occurring is within the system and may not be visible on the site yet, but trust me….it has been an amazing work in progress. Valeta Sweet, from Visit Spokane continues to structure the site to the WTA specifications. Amazing work Valeta, and thank you and Visit Spokane for your commitment to the WTA!!Thank you also to the regional representatives who are collecting content and reviewing the website. Do watch for announcements about advertising and listing opportunities on the website coming very soon.

Membership Committee

The Membership Committee, led by Monique Trudnowski, owner of Adriatic Grill, has two conference calls per month, as well as a “work party” on March 20th from 2:30 – 5 pm to prepare for the Summit. The event will be at Adriatic Grill Restaurant, visit www.adriaticgrill.com for directions. Appetizers & beverages provided.

The Committee will have tables at the Summit to promote membership, answer questions and sign up some new members! They will have one member specifically assigned to take care of our Corporate Sponsorship tables and their attendees.

The committee is coming up with a plan to pair our Board of Directors with their stakeholder peers by both region and industry, to ensure every member feels connected in many ways. Last, but not least, the membership team spent some time sharing why they find their membership with the WTA is so important and what they feel each of their tangible benefits are.

Communications Committee
The Communications Committee has been newly separated from the Marketing Committee and is being led by David Blandford from Seattle’s CVB. They are already diligently working on several tasks. David is looking at adding additional committee members to ensure they have representation for every corner and sector of the state.

The committee is working on updating “What’s New” story ideas for travel media that were compiled last fall. These ideas will be used in various ways, as well as at Go West and Pow Wow. The current state photo library usage rights are being reviewed and photos cannot be used, so the committee is compiling shots from each of our destinations for editorial media, presentations and other non-commercial uses (advertising); in a pinch, this will allow any of us to access/send a geographically representative batch of state photos.

There are several current WTA PR opportunities coming quickly that the committee will work on, including the release of the Dean Runyan Report, the Summit on April 5th, and our new Visitors Guide. Last, but certainly not least, the committee will be populating press rooms on www.watourismalliance.com; www.whytourismmatters.com and www.experiencewa.com/industry.

One request …Please help us get the word out about the WTA. Add your co-workers, friends etc to our database so we can continue to expand our reach and awareness.

In closing, we remain dedicated and focused on the long term success of the WTA. I do hope you can see, through this update, that we are moving forward at full speed, and continue to overcome hurdles and challenges. I believe you can also see the power of volunteerism. For those of you not involved, consider it. For those that are…my heartfelt gratitude.

Don’t forget to keep your feedback coming! Please visit www.watourismalliance.com and share your feedback with us!

 

Suzanne Fletcher

Executive Director, WTA