Going Dutch!

rafting the Tieton River

We’re just finishing up a two day tour of the Yakima Valley for three Dutch journalists and they’re having a blast! After arriving yesterday they had a quick tour of The Tasting Room Yakima at Wildridge Vineyard. Then each went on different excursions including whitewater rafting on the Tieton River with Osprey Rafting, a massage treatment at Ummelina Spa and a tour of the Central Washington Agricultural Museum in Union Gap.

To cap off their busy day the journalists were treated to dinner at Greystone Restaurant in Yakima with wine tasting and an overview of the region’s wine industry provided by Anders Zwartjes of Gilbert Cellars. Today they tour the murals in Toppenish before moving on south.

The trip was coordinated by Washington State Tourism and the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau. In addition to visiting the Valley the entourage will visit Seattle,  Mt. Rainier, the Columbia Gorge and Mt. St Helens.

Fall Campaign Underway

We were reviewing our event calendar and made an astonishing discovery. During the fall months there are more 70 musical events occurring, practically one or more events every day!  From The Little River Band at the Central Washington Fair to open mics at various pubs, there’s a wide range of live music going on in the Yakima Valley. Plus it’s harvest time at the wineries and orchards, making it a great time to visit.

So we developed our fall media campaign around the many events, fall harvest and wine crush. Our project includes an event focused micro-website plus a special website for the Season’s Crush and Concerts in the City.  In addition, we worked with the Central Washington State Fair to promote their concerts and lodging packages.

The sites are being marketed through print advertisements in Seattle, direct e-marketing and social media outlets.

Volunteers Tour Businesses

Volunteers enjoy lunch at Susie's

The first rule of sales is ‘know your product’.  So what better way to know about a destination than to visit it first hand?

Ten of our volunteers who staff the information table at the Convention Center were treated to a tour of businesses today.  After getting an update at our Visitor Information Center they toured the businesses of Track 29, Gilbert Cellars, The Depot Restaurant and Front Street plus lunch at Susie’s Bistro. Complimentary transportation was provided by the Red Lion Inn.

This is one of the many training programs we provide our volunteers to help them better serve our convention attendees.

Industry Tours Communities

Last week, organizers from Yakima Valley communities hosted a special familiarization tour. The goal of the trip was to expose staff from visitor centers and tourist businesses to the events and attractions of the valley.

Through a one-day, whirlwind bus ride participants visited  Wapato, Zillah, Granger, Grandview, Sunnyside, Prosser, and Benton City. At each community, a local leader would hop on the bus and speak to the group about their town.

The event was organized by the Spring Fling Festival Organization, whose mission is to promote and expand tourism from Wapato to Benton City, encouraging visitors to explore the amenities and participate in the special events of Valley communities, particularly during the Pre-Barrel/Spring Barrel Tasting that occurs each spring.

Highlights of the day included:

  • Viewing vast agricultural fields and an informative talk about the diverse ethnic history represented in the City of Wapato.
  • The Yakama Nation Cultural Center, Gift Shop and Museum.
  • The Toppenish Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, newest mural, hop industry related murals, and tour of the American Hop Museum (pictured above), which included a hop industry presentation by a local hop grower.
  • The Granger area Dinosaur Park and family activities
  • Jones Farm, a second generation family farm which features fruits, vegetables, beans, a hay maze, pumpkin patch, duck pond and photo backdrops.
  • Grandview’s new outdoor concert amphitheater, upgrading of the rodeo grounds and the groundbreaking for a new playground.
  • Benton City’s growth of RV spots for vacationers along the Yakima River, an Alpaca farm and upgrades to the downtown area with paved pathways and proposed horse trails and housing developments.
  • An overview of Sunnyside.
  • Lunch, ice cream and gift bags from Sunnyside’s Darigold Dairy plant, which produces 170 million pounds of cheese (5% of the total US production).

Valley Receives Press- Updated

Biking in Yakima Valley Vineyard Our regional PR project with GreenRubino of Seattle, Washington Wine Country, the Tri-Cities CVB and Walla Walla Tourism, has generated great travel media coverage for the Yakima Valley.  Results include an article in the Seattle Times, Peter Greenberg piece in AARP Magazine, a wine focused story in 425 Magazine of Bellevue, a food focused piece in Edible Seattle magazine, Examiner.com, American Airlines in-flight magazine Celebrated Living plus a feature in Mid Columbia magazine.

The fall wine crush had a great write up this week in the Seattle Times.

Recently we worked with numerous travel and feature writers from around the world for future stories.  In the coming weeks we’ll host writers from Holland and Germany.

Research shows that media stories help to attract visitors to the regions and businesses featured.

University Gets Hospitality Training Grant

Heritage University (HU) is receiving a major grant from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department to promote entrepreneurship and hospitality training in the Yakima Valley. Heritage will partner with the University of Washington to offer training sessions to economic development groups and small businesses. At least 12 sessions will be offered per year over a three-year period.

Heritage’s faculty and business students will train local businesses from across Yakima County on tourism knowledge, etiquette and customer service skills. HU will use the nationally recognized Super Host model created in 1985 to prepare British Columbia’s tourism workforce to host the world at EXPO ’86. Faculty and students will become certified trainers, delivering effective training tools and skills for local businesses.

Sessions will be conducted in both English and Spanish. The objective is to provide local businesses that interact with tourists with an understanding of excellent customer service. The outcome will be increased sales, increased number of jobs and all-season consistency to local business owners in the many small communities of Yakima County.

The Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau will be an active partner in helping to develop the program and getting local businesses to participate.

Podcast Production Begins


Production began this week on six, one-minute video podcasts the Bureau is producing on the attractions, personalities and features of the Yakima Valley.

Pictured is John Thompson of Thompson Farms in Naches, discussing farming and life in the valley. Pixelsoft Films of Kennewick has been hired to produce the series. Funding for the podcasts is being provided by the VCB and through a grant provided by Washington State Tourism.

Podcasts are a series of digital media files, either audio or video, that is released episodically and downloaded through web syndication. The podcasts should be available later this year.

Business Travel Means BUSINESS

A comprehensive study conducted by leading global research firm Oxford Economics establishes the first clear link between business travel and business growth. For every dollar invested in business travel, businesses experience an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits, according to the findings. It is the first time that the return on investment of business travel has been successfully measured.

“This study shows that not all spending cuts are smart cuts,” said Adam Sacks, managing director of Oxford Economics. “When companies reduce their travel budgets, there are negative consequences that we can now quantify, in terms of lost revenue and profit growth and in terms of giving competitors a distinct advantage.”

The study comes at an opportune time for American businesses that are planning their 2010 budgets and for federal policymakers looking to stimulate a struggling American economy. The study found that curbing business travel can have a strong negative impact on corporate profits. The average business in the United States would forfeit 17 percent of its profits in the first year of eliminating business travel, and it would take more than three years for profits to recover.

Business travel in the U.S. is responsible for $246 billion in spending and 2.3 million American jobs; $100 billion of this spending and nearly 1 million American jobs are linked directly to meetings and events, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

For more details see the  Key Messages and read the Executive Summary

Source: U.S. Travel Association and Destination Marketing Association International

Sales Blitz in Lacey, WA Today

Farmer’s Market Extravaganza

Olympia- Yakima Valley VCB Convention Sales staff along with various industry partners hosted 38 meeting planners and association staff from 24 organizations at a luncheon and presentation in Lacey WA.  In addition to a spread of catered delectables from M & M Catering (the Yakima Convention Center’s exclusive caterer), guests were treated to fresh fruit, vegetables as well as home-made salsa to demonstrate the culinary cultural experiences found in the Yakima Valley.

VCB Industry Partners Feature Fresh Salsa and Other Made-In the Yakima Valley Goodies
Industry Partners featured fresh salsa and other Made-In the Yakima Valley goods
Attendees Line-Up to Experience Fresh Tastes From the Yakima Valley
Attendees line-up to experience fresh tastes from the Yakima Valley

For more information about hosting meetings in the Yakima Valley, go online or call 509-575-3010.