Virtual Trade Shows- Future or Fad?

Earlier this month there was an article in USA Today about virtual trade shows.  The story stated  “With travel budgets deeply slashed across Corporate America, more companies are turning to virtual trade shows to connect with customers and suppliers.”  These shows utilize a variety of technology including webcasting, video streaming, webinars and more to simulate a real trade show with booths, seminars and social “gatherings.”  The virtual-meetings technology companies interviewed stated they’re seeing big demand.

Sure the platforms have an appeal, are definitely trendy and, given the economy, are an attractive alternative, but will they work in the long run?

Last spring the Nielsen’s Council for Research Excellence released research revealing that the average American spends 8.5 hours in front of a screen: computer, TV, cell phone, etc. That’s scary.

In this era of excessive “screen time”, people need to connect and relate one-on-one. You can’t catch subtle nuances, intent and tone from a text message, email or a virtual trade show.  People by nature are social animals so we should reach out for that connection and meetings serve an important role in doing just that.

In person meetings also have great economic value. In September the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) unveiled recent research that documented for every dollar invested in business travel, companies realize US $12.50 in incremental revenue.  In fact, the average U.S. business 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.

According to USTA, 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 one million American jobs are linked directly to meetings and events.

So let the virtual business meeting industry float through computers and across the land. It compliments an already important industry, but I doubt it will ever replace it.

John Cooper

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Tourism Day In Olympia

Join hundreds of Tourism industry professionals from across Washington State in Olympia on Tuesday, February 9. We need your help to take a stand on the crucial issues that affect us all and to remind our elected leaders WHY TOURISM MATTERS.

Tourism means jobs, community development, economic development and statewide tax revenue.

We need YOU there to demonstrate that our industry is vast and varied. You’ll take part in legislative district lunches and office visits with legislators and their key staff members to explain the importance of tourism to Washington and your district. Participants will maintain individual schedules based upon availability. Advance logistics and briefing notes will be supplied. Stay tuned for more information.

Wrap up our productive day at a reception at the Governor’s mansion with the Honorable Christine Gregoire and key legislators from the Tourism Commission. Enjoy Washington wines and hors d’oeuvres with your colleagues and the Governor.

Registration must be received by Friday, February 5 and you must bring photo ID matching your registration name for security clearance. Space is limited.

A representative from your region will be in contact with you in early February to confirm your agenda, provide you with information relative to your region and be available to answer any questions.

Schedule of Events in Olympia on February 9th:

  • 10:00 am: Briefing Session at First Congregational Church
  • 11:15 am: Group Photo on South Lawn of the Capitol
  • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Lunch with Legislators by District
    (subject to availability, may be on your own)
  • 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Meetings with Legislators and/or staff
    *Optional Capitol Tours and Targeted Committee hearings
  • 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm: Reception at Governor’s Mansion with Tourism Commission Legislators

Registration is $25 per person.

Please register now and commit to making a difference by February 5, 2010.

You’ll need to provide us with some additional information on the registration form, so before clicking below, please find your:

Then CLICK HERE to register

Due to the nature of the additional information we need to collect, individuals must register separately.

Special rates for lodging have been arranged at Red Lion (space available). Call  1-800-733-5466 or 360-943-4000 and ask for the WSDMO rate.

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Social Media Boot Camp

Social media is a powerful marketing tool that can raise awareness about your business and allow you to engage with your customers in real-time conversations.  It can improve your search engine optimization and drive traffic to your website. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can also be used as business development tools.

You may be thinking, “But my customers aren’t using Social Media.” Think again:

  • There are over 300 million users on Facebook, with 250,000 new users every day
  • Nearly 50% of Facebook users are  over 35 years old, and almost 20% are over 45
  • The largest age group on Twitter is 35-49; comprising almost 42 % of users
  • As of August 2009, 17 % of all time spent on the Internet was at social networking sites

In cooperation with the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce and New Vision, the VCB is offering a two hour social media boot camp February 23rd, 10:00 a.m. at the Yakima Convention Center.  The goal of the workshop is to give participants the tools and the “know how” to create a social media strategy.  You’ll get ideas and techniques that allow you to put social media to work in your company with specific applications like Facebook and Twitter.

Shawn Busse will give this engaging presentation. He is the founding partner of Kinesis, a marketing and design firm based in Portland Oregon.

Cost for the boot camp is $20 prepaid, $30 at the door. REGISTER AND PAY ONLINE or RSVP and pay in advance by contacting Barbara Fleming, (509) 575-3010 or (800) 221-0751.  Advance payments can be made at the VCB administrative offices at the Yakima Convention Center, 10 North 8th Street in downtown Yakima.

The Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB) has implemented social media strategies to attract visitors, build awareness of the Valley and increase exposure to the travel media plus specialty audiences like wine bloggers.  We encourage others in the community to look at the opportunities social media presents.

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New Years Travel Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, New Year resolutions. From being more healthy to resolving to get in touch with old friends, Americans are good at making (and breaking) resolutions.  A University of Scranton study in 2002 found that nearly 45% of Americans make New Year resolutions, and less than half of those are being kept by summer.

Last week I was reviewing online stories and blogs on 2010 travel resolutions.  Not surprisingly there were many out there offering a range of ideas and advice. My favorite post was authored by blogger Katie Hammel on the Gadling travel blog.

One thing she recommends is to get to know your own backyard. With that in mind, here are ten suggestions for enjoying Washington wine country and the Yakima Valley:

  1. Eat local. Try a new restaurant that serves local foods. Visit a fruit stand for fresh, locally grown produce.
  2. Take the long way home. Find some good local maps,  get off the interstate and meander down a country lane.
  3. Try a new lodging option. Chain hotels are nice, but a resort, inn or bed and breakfast gives you greater exposure to the people and character of the destination.
  4. Visit a new winery.  There are seventy wineries open to the public in the Yakima Valley, and another hundred or so in Eastern WA. Surely you have not visited them all!
  5. Head for the hills! There are some amazing hiking trails in the Naches Ranger District and, with proper planning, they make for a great excursion. Or take a stroll along the paved Yakima Greenway trail.
  6. Soak up the arts. Sure we’re known for our wine and agricultural bounty, but there’s a growing (pardon the pun) artistic community. From galleries to Broadway productions, the Yakima Valley has a range of artistic endeavors.
  7. Indulge yourself. Get a spa treatment at one of our local spas.
  8. Better yet, make it a girlfriends getaway with your favorite friends.
  9. Plan to take in a new festival or event.
  10. Tell your friends about our region or let us send them a visitors guide. Be sure to sign up for email updates on what’s happening in Washington wine country.

Here’s wishing your travel resolutions take you to some great destinations and hope to see you in the Yakima Valley in 2010!

John Cooper

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