Executive Director Update – June 2012

It is a great time to be in tourism in Washington! Our high season is upon us, and it’s great to see more tourists on the sidewalks and more cameras around necks. The cruise ships are in port and passengers are visiting our members’ establishments.

I’ve always been tempted to interview them and ask, “Why did you choose Washington?” So this past weekend, that is exactly what I did. The answers were as diverse as their points of origination. Many respondents commented it was the draw of the beauty of our state, or the variety of outdoor and/or affordable activities. But the answer I got more than I would have liked…it’s on the way to Alaska! That just tells me we have much work to do! We need to get the word out that Washington is open for business and we are inviting everyone to come and stay for awhile….and see more of our state to truly understand the diversity and the grandeur of Washington.

-Suzanne Fletcher

June 2012

1. Investors

This month we are very fortunate to announce two major sponsorships from two regional travel and tourism industry giants, the Boeing Company and the Port of Seattle.

The Boeing Company contributed $50,000 to the WTA to continue our destination marketing efforts and to convey the importance of tourism to their company. “Boeing is pleased to be a partner with the Washington Tourism Alliance,” said Mark Hooper, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Vice President, Communications and Marketing. “Being able to share with the world what makes this state great, and why it is a terrific place to live, work and build a future is something in which we take enormous pride.”

The Port of Seattle, which invested $155,000 in the WTA last year as a catalyst to others, issued another $50,000 this month, the first of two annual payments. “Success of the airport and our cruise industry depends on travelers across the globe choosing to spend their travel dollars in Washington,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. “Among the 25-year goals set out in the Century Agenda are doubling the number of international flights, expanding the economic impact of the Alaskan cruise business, and we can’t achieve these goals without tourists coming to Seattle. The WTA is a vital partner in bringing our region to travelers across the world.” The WTA is grateful for their support.

2. Special WTA Rates in Washington State Visitors’ Guide

One of the most important benefits of being a WTA member is the opportunity to receive discount pricing in the Official Washington State Visitors’ Guide, and now is the time to reserve your space for the 2013 edition. WTA members receive special member rates and even greater savings by reserving space before the early bird deadline on July 31.

Thanks to our combined efforts of the three-way partnership with the Washington Lodging Association and SagaCity Media, circulation for the Visitors’ Guide has grown to 375,000 and readership to nearly one million prospective travelers. These copies are getting into the hands of visitors at over 2,200 visitor locations in nine states and in British Columbia and at Barnes & Noble, QFC, Whole Foods and other quality stores in Washington and Oregon. The 2012 Visitors’ Guide also reached 65,000 subscribers of Seattle Met and Portland Monthly magazines when it was mailed along with their April issues. And as WTA’s official tourism publication, the Visitors’ Guide is featured on experiencewa.com where travelers can view it online or order their own copy.

Contact Jeff Adams at SagaCity Media (or call 206-454-3007) for more information or click here to see the media kit

3. Co-Op Advertising

Another benefit of being a member of the WTA is the ability to take part in affordable advertising. Now live on the Experience WA Facebook Page is the first WTA co-op marketing partnership! Prominently featured on the visitor-focused Facebook page, the tab reads “Choose Your Washington Adventure” with the sub-heading “Adventures Await.” Once a visitor to the Facebook page clicks on the Adventures Await tab, their exploration of Washington State attractions begins! Co-op partners have featured information sections, each with a link to the respective Web sites.

But, how do visitors know to visit the Experience WA Facebook Page? The WTA marketing committee has assembled a highly-targeted advertising strategy focusing on Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC. In addition to display and banner advertisements on Portland and Vancouver’s most visited Web sites, the marketing committee has also elected to invest in Facebook advertising, which is regarded as one of the most highly-targeted advertising platforms in history. The objective of the advertising is to drive potential visitors to the Facebook tab, from which one can begin researching and booking their adventure to Washington State!

As our first co-op marketing effort, the WTA has great concern with maximizing our member’s investments. As such, we have instituted tracking mechanisms through which we can actively and independently monitor the success of each advertising medium. Then, if we notice one medium is significantly outperforming others, we have the ability to modify the advertising allocations to maximize the efficiency of visitor acquisition. The advertising will begin this week and we look forward to sharing the success of the campaign very soon!

4. Level Up!

The Level Up campaign running through the month of July will give YOU a special opportunity to help increase WTA membership while upgrading your visibility within the organization. For July only, if you help us sign up a new member at the basic level or higher, you will get a FREE upgrade of YOUR membership. For example, if you are a Premium member now and you sign up an organization at the basic level or higher, you will now become an Associate Partner and get to enjoy all the extra benefits of the higher level! All you have to do to sign up an organization is have them fill out one of the attached applications and then email it to Mike Moe, Business Development Manger. Level Up today!

5. Call for Nominations

Do you want to play a more active role in the future direction of the WTA? Would you consider a seat on the Board? The WTA is currently seeking seven (7) new members to the Board of Directors to replace those members that are cycling off. If you are interested, please contact Monica Hinckley to have an application sent your way. The application will explain the time requirements and expectations of a WTA Board member and is due back by July 9, 2012.

6. Committee Reports

Marketing

The social media sub-committee continues to post. If a DMO or other organization publishes content they would like us to share, please email Chris Murphy and include a link to where the content is published on the DMO web site.

Our goals for June are:

-Develop content publishing calendar for Q3 & Q4

-Active social media outreach will begin to build following

Web Committee

The Website Task Force has distributed the RFP for a new website and we are expecting to review proposals and then interview finalists by mid-July. If you know an ad agency or website company that may be interested in bidding please let us know and we’ll send them the RFP. The deadline for responses is coming quickly…

PR Committee

The committee is staffing both Facebook and Twitter with members taking shifts in posting/tweeting. With the transition complete, emphasis is now on building fans/followers, which in turn will help WTA establish industry, member, business and political support. Please do your part and tell your friends and “like” us as much as possible! Facebook / WQ Tourism Alliance

Summit & Events

The events committee is currently focusing on the success of our online auction site, “Bidding for Good”. This month’s auction closes on Monday, June 25th. Currently the price is $370 for a package valued at over $925. Please forward this link to your contacts so they can take advantage of this great opportunity! (Bidding For Good) These online auctions are a great opportunity for our members to showcase their regions with few marketing dollars. Our members have been very excited to support this program as it’s been great exposure for their destinations.

They are also working on a painted wine barrel contest beginning this summer with a launch event, and culminating with an auction/reception the night before the 2013 Summit.

The LTF Committee is continuing to evaluate the options on funding. The committee meets twice monthly and is in the process of finalizing the elevator speech and talking points, and working on our grass roots communication plan.

They are also working with the Communications and Marketing Committees to establish a program of advocacy in preparation of the funding program. They are in the process of identifying stakeholders and stakeholder organizations and plan to assign members to stakeholders for the planning of the advocacy program.