1.19.12 – Executive Director Update

I know everyone in this country is looking forward to what 2012 can bring. Let’s face it…2011 was a rough year for many, including Washington State tourism. But with every cloud, one is to look for the silver lining, and as we begin 2012….I think we have found it! The WTA has made amazing strides, accomplished so much, and has a bright future….all due to incredible volunteers! You know I love to write these newsletters every few weeks, because I have so much positive news, creative ideas, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to share. 2012 will be a critical year to our success, but if you take a moment to reflect on what has been accomplished over the last five months, you have to be optimistic! Welcome 2012!!!

Committee Reports

Website Committee – Its official! The WTA is now the proud owner of ExperienceWa.com! This has been a journey on the part of our website committee volunteers and our partners. Contracts had to be renegotiated, partners had to be re-aligned, photos and videos had to be cataloged and content had to be updated. Last week a launch meeting was held with multiple parties to assure the transition was on target and on time. We would be remiss if we did not mention the tireless efforts of Valeta Sweet, from Visit Spokane, for making this happen! She has become the web goddess, and is actively involved in shaping the site to be current and user friendly. Regional reps have been identified to provide content that is pertinent to their regions. More to come on the website in my next newsletter.

Marketing & Communications Committee – A new chair was announced for the Marketing and Communications Committee. George Sharp has accepted this new role, and has hit the ground running. George is in the process of establishing set meetings for the year, and is working on a matrix of all open projects so we can track all the efforts of all members and confirm we are hitting our targets. George will be a guest author in my next newsletter so you can get an update directly from the Chair. It was also determined that due to the volume of work required by this committee; Communications will become a stand alone committee with David Blandford being the chair. I will have more to report after the new Communications Committee has its first meeting.

Long Term Funding + Advocacy Committee – This committee will be meeting on January 19 with Bill Klein from Dean Runyan Associates (DRA), an economic and marketing research group. This meeting will evaluate some of the models and analytics used by DRA. The committee has committed to presenting a “blue print” of a funding model at the Tourism Summit on April 5th.

Membership Committee -The Membership Committee is working on the 2012 renewal packets which will be critical to our financial stability. They are also refining the membership deliverables, and continuing to build new membership through multiple avenues. We would like to thank the Washington Restaurant Association for inviting both Monique Trudnowski and myself to be guests on their radio program. This was a great opportunity to raise awareness of the WTA.

Summit & Events Committee – The group is actively coordinating logistics for the upcoming Tourism Summit. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, the Summit will take place April 5, 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM at the Sea-Tac Hilton and Conference Center. A complete agenda will be coming soon, however we are thrilled to announce Roger Dow, CEO of USTA as one of our keynote speakers. Information about the event and the online registration for this event will be available by February 1. There will be an early bird discount as well as a WTA membership discount. Please do plan on attending! At that event we will be announcing other major fund raising events for you to again participate and show your support of the WTA.

Other News
Research – The WTA is pleased to announce the purchase of the Dean Runyan Associates Washington State Travel Impact and Visitor Volume report. This state level report will be posted on the ExperienceWa.com/Industry very soon. I will let you know the completion and posting date as soon as I am aware.

Call Center – On January 1, we launched the new WTA call center. I am very excited to introduce our first call center employee, Maureen Buley. As our new WTA ambassador, Maureen will be managing requests for the guide, fielding questions about the state and possible itineraries, and fulfilling student’s request for information. The call center will be open from 8AM-5PM, Monday thru Friday to assist potential visitors and interested parties. Maureen is a lifetime Washington resident and has traveled extensively throughout the state. We are very excited to have her on board. A special thanks goes to Board Member, Darrell Bryant, and Clipper Vacations for all their support on this project.

Pow Wow – Washington will be represented at PowWow! This is a global tourism show held annually and the State of WA will now be represented by four of our members. We want to thank Yakima Valley VCB, Olympia-Tumwater-Lacey VCB, Tacoma Regional CVB, and the Squaxin Tribe for offering to manage the booth on our behalf.

Official Visitors’ Guide – Finishing touches are being placed on the Official Washington State Visitors’ Guide that is coming out in early March. There is still a chance to advertise in the Guide. Please contact Jeff Adams at 206 957 2234 ext. 107 for more information.

New Board Members – The WTA Board is excited to announce and welcome our new Board members!
Vacant Positions:
Jennifer Leavitt, The Bellevue Collection – Retail Position
Cara Egan, Seattle Art Museum – Arts & Culture Position

Per our bylaws because these are new, full-term positons, these two must be ratified by the WTA membership. A letter is being sent to all members today with more information.

Open Board positions for unexpired terms:
George Sharp, Olympia-Tumwater-Lacey VCB – At-Large Position
Kimberly Bennett, Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office-DMO Position

Due to the departure of WTA President Tammy Blount, Kevin Clark, CEO + President of Argosy Cruises, was approved as the WTA President, and Cheryl Kilday, President + CEO of Visit Spokane, will replace Kevin as Vice President.

Don’t forget to keep your feedback coming!

Suzanne Fletcher
Executive Director, WTA