Yakima to Host Large Music Conference This Month

Steve Treseler, the author of The Living Jazz Tradition, conducts a workshops to middle school, high school and college educators at the 2014 WMEA conference. Photo by CMA Press.

Steve Treseler, author of The Living Jazz Tradition, conducts a workshop to middle school, high school and college educators at the 2014 WMEA conference. Photo by CMA Press.

The Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA) will hold its 43rd Biennial Conference and All-State Honor Group performances February 11th – 14th at the Yakima Convention Center and numerous other venues around Yakima. Over the course of the weekend, more than 4,000 students, teachers, staff and families will make their way to Yakima for the event.

Included in that figure are 1,200+ All-State and Junior All-State students. In addition, about 1,100 music teachers from around the state will attend 120 sessions for continuing education as well as 15 concerts their students are performing. An additional 1,700 or more family members, friends and staff will be in Yakima for the event.

According to Yakima Valley Tourism, this is the largest convention slated for 2016. “We work on this event for more than a year,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO for Yakima Valley Tourism. “This conference fills hotels for miles and brings significant visitor spending to the Valley.”

There are more than 20 ensembles (Bands, Orchestras, Choirs, Jazz Ensembles, and Percussion Ensembles, etc.) from all over the state. Along with their teachers, students will perform at “Concert Hours” and “Demonstration Sessions” throughout the weekend. To coordinate the programs, WMEA bulks up for the conference to about 80 staff members (from an office staff of six). This group will take care of details from presiding at conference sessions, moving percussion gear around concert sites and making sure that All-State Students are properly fed and rested.

In order to attend events at the conference, people have to be registered or they have to be involved with presenting, performing or staffing. The Junior All-State and the All-State Concerts, however, are open to the public.

The schedule, time and locations of the concerts are listed below:

Friday, February 12th at 3:00 PM

All State Jazz Concert – Yakima Convention Center

Saturday, February 13th at 4:15 PM      

  • Junior All-State Instrumental Concert – Eisenhower High School
  • Junior All-State Choral Concert – Capitol Theatre

Sunday, February 14th at 1:00 PM

  • All-State Bands – Eisenhower High School
  • All-State Orchestras – Capitol Theatre
  • All-State Choirs – Yakima Convention Center

Concert tickets are $20 if purchased in advance, or $25 the day of or at the door. Children grade eight and below are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling 509-853-2787, on the WMEA website at www.wmea.org under 2016 Conference Information, or online at www.ticketswest.com/events/wmea-all-state-concerts/14702/. Tickets will be sold at the door of each concert venue, plus at the Capitol Theatre Box office starting at 11:00am on Friday for Friday’s Jazz Concert at the Yakima Convention Center, and starting at 11:00am on Sunday for the three Large Group Concerts. Tickets to any of the Sunday concerts allow access to all three events that day.

Yakima has been the traditional location for the WMEA State Conference and All-State Honor Groups for more than 20 years. The event is staged in Yakima around President’s Day Weekend every even numbered year. “We always feel special here,” stated WMEA Executive Director Scott Ketron. “The team of folks at the tourism office and hotels that help us manage this event are like family and they know what to do. We value Yakima, its people and our ongoing relationship with the community.”

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Ten Travel and Tourism Trends for 2015

Sharing a column our CEO wrote today:

Thanksgiving is here.  It’s just a matter of time before we usher in a new year.  So what does 2015 hold for travel and tourism? Here are ten trends that I believe will influence travel and tourism next year.

  1. Unplugged travel: Lonely Planet recently released a number of predictions on the future of travel.  They believe the pressures of modern life will cause growth in ‘unplugged travel’. People will seek places that deliberately have no emails or mobile device access,  so that ‘guests can immerse themselves in their destination and truly forget about work and everyday life.’
  2. Crowded Planes: The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) forecasts that 6.6 billion passengers will fly worldwide by 2032, growing an average of 4.4% annually from 2014 onward. Bottom line: Crowded planes, especially on popular routes.
  3. Growth in Culinary Travel: It’s been a trend for awhile but research validates that food and beverage activities do influence travel decisions. Mandala Research surveyed Americans in 2013 and found that three quarters of all leisure travelers (131 million people) can be classified as culinary travelers, having participated in culinary activities within the past three years.  Expect more interest in culinary travel and new products to tap into this travel trend, like the New Mexico Breakfast Burrito Byway or the Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail.
  4. Sleeping will cost you more: Hotel rates and occupancy levels will be higher due to demand and a stronger economy, especially in large cities and at upscale hotels. Experts advise doing your homework to find deals and booking early. Another option is to gamble on last minute deals through online lodging websites.
  5. Go Local: The rapid rise of the ‘sharing economy’ through venues like Airbnb.com, EatWith.com, Uber and other grass roots based travel providers will proliferate in the coming year(s).
  6. Meetings Coming On Strong: The meetings and convention industry will experience continued growth in 2015. According to American Express Meetings & Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast, meetings will play a critical role in growing the tourism economy next year.
  7. Going mobile: Almost 25% of all travel bookings in the US will be done via smartphones in 2015. Mobile friendly travel apps and the growth in virtually everything being done on mobile devices have given rise to this trend. It’s not going to slow down either.
  8. Blurred Lines: Top of the Lonely Planet list of trends is that travel will become ‘fully integrated into our lives as opposed to a special event.’ This is encouraging as travel enriches in ways that no other activity can. Travelers are blending their interests when traveling. Trips that focus on the environment, sports, or spa/health will see growth in 2015.
  9. More bang for the buck: Leisure travelers want value and quality. This doesn’t always mean rock bottom pricing, but other aspects such as unique location,  quality service, new amenities and convenience are important.
  10. Sustainability. Sustainability in travel has been around for years, but consumers are driving companies and destinations to embrace more earth friendly practices. Hotels are not only reducing water and chemical use but also employing other sustainable practices including LED lighting and in-room recycling programs. Restaurants are sourcing local ingredients and products. Rental car companies offer more hybrid vehicles.

So those are my top ten travel trends to watch in 2015. Wherever you travel, enjoy the journey and cherish the memories.

John Cooper

Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau Changes Name

The agency responsible for developing and marketing tourism for the Yakima Valley will be doing business under a new name. Effective today, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau will be doing business as Yakima Valley Tourism. The change resulted from a board retreat last year as the organization made future plans for tourism in the region.

Yakima Valley Tourism made the announcement today at the Yakima Convention Center where it presented updates and issues facing the local, state and national tourism industries to the public.

“The new name is easier to remember, better reflects our mission and coincides with the launch of our six-year strategic plan,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO. “Our organization is responsible for all facets of tourism including conventions and groups, visitor services, sports and leisure travel. Tourism is an inclusive word for all sectors of the industry.”

The main website to promote Yakima Valley will be www.yakimavalleytourism.com

Yakima Valley Tourism is a non-profit trade association. It has been known as Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau since forming in 1957.

The Many Benefits of Travel

Reprinted from Travel and Tourism Today by permission:

It’s a new year, time to make travel plans! Let’s hit the road and make that big sale or lure new clients. Maybe attend a conference to learn new skills or build contacts. Journey to an exotic locale or just head out for a weekend getaway. Whatever reason you take to the road, seas or skies,  travel offers lots of benefits that are well documented.

Need some proof? The folks at the U.S. Travel Association and their partners have developed a website aptly named Travel Effect. Based on research, the site shares many ways our economy, work and personal lives benefit from travel. Here are a few examples:

Personal benefits of travel:

  • Travel is beneficial to the aging process. Women who vacation every six years or less have a significantly higher risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death compared to women who vacation at least  twice a year. Men who do not take an annual vacation have a 30% greater risk of death from heart disease.
  •  Travel is good for families. In a survey of youth ages 8-18 they strongly agreed that on family trips they get to “see and do new things that I’ll remember for a long time” (64%) and that some of their “best memories are of things that I did during a family vacation” (49%).
  • Travel builds relationships. According to a USTA survey, “couples who travel together are significantly more satisfied with their relationship than couples who do not.” For example, 84% of the respondents who travel as a couple believe that they spend quality time together, compared to only 70% of respondents who do not.

Professional benefits of travel: A detailed study conducted by the Oxford Economics U.S.A. documented the value of business travel, including:

  • Executives and business travelers estimate that 28% of their current business would be lost without in-person meetings.
  • Business travel is a catalyst to the development of business relationships on every level. For example, networking with vendors (48%) and prospects (43%) were among the top reasons for attending trade shows.
  • According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 69% of meetings attendees consider in-person networking to be “very or extremely important” to their job performance.
  • 75% of survey respondents report that employees who take most or all of their vacation days perform better compared with employees who take less vacation.

Economic value of travel: The travel and tourism industry adds much to our national economy:

  • Domestic and international travelers spent $855 billion in 2012.
  • 7.7 million people were directly employed in the travel and tourism industry with an annual payroll of $200 billion in 2012.
  • Travelers generated $128 billion in local, state and federal taxes in 2012.
  • Each U.S. household would pay $1,060 more in taxes without the taxes the tourism industry creates.

Travel also serves a greater purpose. It connects people from around the world, potentially building a better understanding of different cultures, traditions and lifestyles. As the International Institute for Peace through Tourism proclaims, “Every traveler is potentially an ambassador for peace.” That alone makes travel worthwhile.

A Look at Tourism in the Yakima Valley in 2013

As the new year begins we’re busy finishing up an our Annual Report, which will be out later this month. In the mean time, here are a few the year’s highlights through November:

Convention & Group Sales:  At the end of November the sales department confirmed 94 conventions held (up 11% over same period in 2012), reached 90% of their group leads goal and exceeded their annual hotel room nights confirmed goal by 5% with 35,842 room nights!

The Yakima Convention Center welcomed Centerplate as the new caterer in May after the Red Lion Corporation (which owned M&M Catering) discontinued their contract. Centerplate caters at 300 convention and event venues across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and annually serves more than 115 million guests.

Web marketing: Our main website performed very well. Through November the site saw more than 293,590 visitors, an increase of 24% over 2012. Much of the increased traffic was a result of seasonal campaigns like the current “win a ski day contest with Andy Mahre”.

New websites: The Spirits and Hops Trail was launched in July and celebrates locally made adult beverages and our hop heritage. Yakima Valley Made is a directory of more than 100 locally grown and crafted goods and products. Both sites have been popular and  help us to market Yakima Valley artisan products.

Public Relations/Media: We placed more than 90 travel and lifestyle media pieces in 2013 with an advertising value exceeding $538,000. Click here for a sampling of the stories and features that resulted from our efforts.

Our  Yakima Valley Sports  Commission saw record attendance at their Hot Shots 3 on 3 Tourney with 497 teams, an increase of 8.5% from 2012 and the sixth straight year the team numbers have grown.  In its second year, the Pirate Plunder Adventure Race plunged ahead with 1,484 racers… that’s 60% more participants than in 2012!

The Yakima Valley Visitor Center celebrated 10 years of service in May with a community party. Pam Lakman is the new Manager at the VIC, replacing Pam Alamos who retired.

Wine tourism: The Washington Wine Country alliance continued the Taste and Tote “wine flies free” program with Alaska Airlines. In October we welcomed Hertz as the new rental car partner for the program. Our CEO John Cooper was a speaker at the national Wine Tourism Conference held in Portland last month, highlighting partnerships and local marketing projects. Other projects included seasonal websites for major wine events and wine country focused advertising.

These are just a sampling of the successes and projects for 2013.  Stay tuned for the full Annual Report soon.

Tourism 2020: State of the Tourism Industry in the Yakima Valley

headerImageBlockTM-copyAs the New Year begins, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau is rolling out a number of programs aimed at building all forms of tourism in the Yakima Valley in 2014 and beyond.  To outline these projects, the Bureau will hold a presentation Friday, January 17th 10:00 a.m. at the Yakima Convention Center, 10 North 8th Street in Downtown Yakima.

Among the topics to be covered:

  • Update on the state of the tourism industry nationally, state wide and locally
  • Brief review of Tourism 2020, the organization’s  strategic plan for tourism in the Yakima Valley
  • Review proposed legislation to fund new Washington state tourism efforts
  • Announce an important change for the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau

There is no charge to attend the session and the event is open to the public. To RSVP call 800- 221-0751 or contact laura@visityakima.com

Washington Tourism Alliance Attends IPW 2013

Pow wow 2013

Delegates work the Washington Tourism Alliance booth at IPW last week

U.S. Travel Association’s 45th annual IPW (formerly known as Pow Wow)  is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S.  Last week representatives from the Washington Tourism Alliance staffed a booth at IPW in Las Vegas to promote the state. More than 6,400 people from 70 states were in attendance, a record for the show. The event is estimated to generate more than $3.5 billion in travel to the U.S. over the next three years.

The delegates met with 43 tour operators and media in 20 minute appointments over three days. Working the booth were Jordan Youngs of the Tri City Visitors and Convention Bureau, Sandy Ward of the Future of Flight and Boeing Center, Meilee Anderson from Seattle Southside and John Cooper, WTA Board member from the Yakima Valley VCB.

Yakima Hosts Meeting Professionals

Over the course of two days this week, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau, Yakima Convention Center and the local hospitality industry hosted an educational forum for twelve state and regional meeting planners and association executives.

During their stay, the meeting professionals discussed issues facing the meeting industry and tactics to improve their programs and services. In addition, hotel management staff were in attendance to learn and share insights.

The sessions were coordinated by Linda DiMario, a long time tourism and meetings expert from Long Beach California. This is the third time Linda has conducted the forum and was well received by the attendees.

In addition to the formal programs, the planners and executives were treated to social events, enjoyed catering creations from the new Convention Center caterer Centerplate and a participated in luncheon at the Yakima Valley Museum.

Driving Meeting and Sports Business to the Yakima Valley

2013-04-16_11-34-58_648This week the hospitality industry of Yakima went to the  LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma to show Washington state meeting and sports planners that the Yakima Valley is ready to drive results for their meetings and events.

Sixty-two staff from thirty-one  groups came to the museum to learn about new services for the meeting and sports industry in Yakima, network, enjoy food and have fun. The event was sponsored by Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, Yakima Convention Center and Yakima Valley Sports Commission. It was also an opportunity for the participants to meet staff from Centerplate, the new caterer for the Yakima Convention Center.

“These social events with meeting planners and sports organizers are a key way we keep in touch,” stated John Cooper, President and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “It gives our industry an opportunity to provide the attendees with updates while learning how we can better serve them.”

Yakima Convention Center and Centerplate staff working the trade show

Yakima Convention Center and Centerplate staff working the trade show

Yakima Valley Washington 2012 Tourism Report

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) reports 2012 was a successful year for the organization in attracting and serving visitors.

In 2012 the Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities VCBs assumed ownership and management of the Washington Wine Country marketing organization. In addition, the Yakima Valley VCB took the leadership role to expand the Alaska Airlines Taste and Tote program throughout the region. This program gives visitors three incentives to visit:  It allows visitors to check a case of wine free from Yakima, Pasco, or Walla Walla airports on Alaska Airlines; Enterprise Rent-A-Car waives rental car drop-off fees at these airports and visitors presenting an Alaska Airlines boarding pass at participating wineries receive waived tasting fees.

The Yakima Convention Center hosted 125,127 visitors during 494 event days in 2012 and brought in nearly $9 million to the local economy. Earned revenue hit an all-time high of just under $800,000.

Sports events continue to expand and grow, providing economic benefits and exposure for the Yakima Valley.  The Yakima Valley Sports Commission estimates the economic impact of sports tourism in the Yakima Valley was $33 million in 2012 (up 15% from 2011) and the number of sporting events held was 416 (up 8% from 2011). In addition, the Sports Commission launched Pirate Plunder Adventure Race, which welcomed 878 runners in its inaugural year.

The VCB’s website visityakimavalley.org had a total of 252,340 page views, a 19% increase over 2011 and a 52% increase over 2010.  The VCB launched a number of new marketing projects, including WineDoggies.com, a website dedicated to visitors who travel with their dogs. In September that program won a ab award from the Western Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus.

Through VCB public relations efforts, 95 travel media placements and articles appeared about Yakima Valley with an advertising value exceeding $1.56 million.  The Yakima Valley Visitor Information center served 14,492 visitors and responded to more than 8,654 information requests via email and phone (up 31%).

A copy of their 2012 Annual Report can be found at http://budurl.com/12AnRep

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the Yakima Valley. Its mission is to stimulate economic development by marketing the Yakima Valley for conventions, groups and leisure travel.