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

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Yakima Valley Featured in National Geographic Book on Dog Travel

Dog Lovers coverNational Geographic Books has released The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel which includes dog friendly businesses, attractions and outdoor areas in 75 pet-friendly cities and regions across the United States and Canada. The Yakima Valley is one of six communities in the Pacific Northwest featured in the book.

 The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel was written by Kelly E. Carter, a New York Times best-selling author and pet travel expert for AOL’s Paw Nation and Elite Traveler. In each destination Carter highlights pet offerings including hotels, parks, pet shops and pet friendly businesses. Features of the book include walks to take with your dog, insider tips from local pet owners and sidebars detailing opportunities for people with a dog in tow.

Yakima Valley Tourism approached Carter in early 2013 as the book was being developed. In 2012 the tourism office had created WineDoggies.com, an award winning program developed to assist visitors traveling with their dogs to the Yakima Valley. “When we found out she was writing this book we knew the Yakima Valley was the right fit,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “We enjoyed working with Ms. Carter and are honored our community was included.”

WineDoggies.com provides pet-friendly businesses and must-see stops in the region. It also includes a ‘Doggie Bloggie’ hosted by a local canine, an interactive map of 50 plus dog-friendly businesses with open-pet policies and a section where dog-friendly businesses and guests can add pictures and stories of their dogs enjoying Washington’s wine country. In addition to featuring the Wine Doggies website, the book highlights numerous Yakima Valley walking and hiking trails, local pet services, dog friendly wineries and pet events.

The other Northwest cities included in the book are Seattle, Portland, Bend, Coeur d’Alene and Missoula. The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel can be found at local bookstores,  Amazon.com and National Geographic’s online bookstore.

Website Dedicated to Local Yakima Valley Products Launched

yvMadeScreenShotHomeThe Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) has launched a new program just in time for holiday shopping. Yakima Valley Made is a website that provides the public a directory of more than 100 Yakima Valley based farm products, hand crafted consumer goods and local food or beverage products. “With the rise of so many hand crafted artisan goods we saw a need to develop a central source for those products,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the VCB. “The site is a work in progress as vendors and locally crafted products are identified and added to the website.”

A number of the products listed on the website are available at the Yakima Valley Visitors Information Center at 101 N. Fair Avenue in Yakima. To view the site visit www.yakimavalleymade.com. Yakima Valley businesses producing locally grown or made items sold directly to consumers that want to be on the website should contact Laura Rodriquez at laura@visityakima.com

Funding for the project came through a grant from HUD Office of University Partnership at Heritage University with technical assistance provided by Yakima County Development Association/New Vision.

Yakima Valley Washington Launches Travel Campaign

Barrett4-20-12aTo boost Spring travel to Washington’s Yakima Valley, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (YVVCB) launched a marketing campaign today to attract leisure travelers. “We get many visitors to the Valley each spring for sports tournaments and conventions,” stated John Cooper President & CEO. “This project is aimed to lure visitors here for wine touring, outdoor recreation, food and cultural events.”

The YVVCB has created a “Find Spring” campaign website that includes a range of spring events and attractions. It also has purchased advertisements in regional media and built online campaigns to attract visitors and increase web traffic.  Examples include participating in a Seattle Metropolitan’s email campaign sent to their 21,000 subscribers, a getaway drawing on ScenicWA.com that is sent to their 35,000 subscribers, exposure on Sunset.com and an email campaign to the YVVCB’s 8,500 online subscribers.

A major feature of the project is a sixty second radio commercial airing on Seattle radio stations that comically pokes fun at the rain in the Puget Sound and that the Yakima Valley is a sunny get-away. The spot will air 540 times through mid-May and will be supported with on-air promotional giveaways. Radio stations include Star 101.5, KOMO News, ESPN and KIRO radio.

Discover the Yakima Valley “Find Spring” website by clicking here. 

Yakima Valley Winter Travel Campaign Launches

Sip, Ski and Savor: Winter in the Yakima Valley.

That’s the title of a new winter tourism campaign by the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. Supported by print and online advertising, the focus of the campaign is to encourage winter travel to the Valley.  As the website states, “the cooler season brings fun-filled weekends of snow recreation, art and cultural performances, and wine tasting in the cozy Yakima Valley winery tasting rooms. Small town charm brings lighted parades, winter festivals and community celebrations.”

Included in the website are links to a variety of events, cultural celebrations, wineries the White Pass Ski Area and outdoor adventure. There’s also an online lodging reservation system so travelers can book their hotel. In addition, an interactive map breaks down winter events by communities in the Yakima Valley.

“Our goal with this campaign is to show visitors that even though it’s cold outside, there’s still lots to do in the Yakima Valley,” said John Cooper, President and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.

View the website here.

Yelp Social Media Workshop

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau is hosting a workshop for businesses and organizations on using the social media website Yelp. The session is 11:00 a.m. November 1, 2012 at The Seasons Performance Hall, 101 N. Naches in Yakima.

Morgan Remmers and Darnell Holloway from Yelp’s corporate office in San Francisco will teach business owners how to use their Yelp listing to market themselves. They will also discuss best practices for using Yelp’s free review response tools.

Yelp is a popular business review and social media site. According to Yelp, every second a consumer generates directions or calls a local business from their mobile app. Yelp had an average of 78 million monthly unique visitors in the second quarter of this year. Yelp users have written more than 30 million local reviews for businesses, attractions and events.

The session is designed in an informative rather than interactive format. Attendees are welcome to bring their smartphone, iPad and/or laptop but they are not required for the session.

Cost for the workshop is $10 for Yakima Valley VCB members and $20 for non-members. A light lunch is included. Registration is available online at YakimaYelpWorkshop.bpt.me, by phone (509) 575-3010 or  email Reesha@VisitYakima.com.

Visitors Bureau Secures Media For Yakima Valley

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau has been busy working with journalists and writers to place features on the Yakima Valley. Here are the latest results from those efforts:

In the Bend Bulletin, John Anderson shares the many agri-tourism attractions and events in the Yakima Valley. Read the article here.

Senior editor Nikki Gloudeman of Smart Meetings magazine wrote in her blog about recent awards at the Western Association of CVB’s Annual Convention, of which our Wine Doggies website received a Best Idea recognition. She finished that entry with the line: “One thing’s for sure: I now really want to get a dog and bring him to the Yakima Valley.”

The Valley was the feature story in the fall issue City Dog magazine, sharing all the dog friendly attractions found in the region. This resulted from a detailed tour our ‘spokesdog’ and staff gave their staff earlier this summer. City Dog has a circulation of 25,000 throughout the Northwest and Northern California. Check this PDF for all the tail wagging details.

Here’s a feature  placed in the Everett Herald with six reasons to visit the Valley this fall.

The Dog Wonderful website did a piece earlier this month resulting from an appointment we had at US Travel Association’s International Pow Wow last May.

Keep up with (and share!) all the positive media we are generating for the region by visiting our Yakima Valley in the News section on our website or by following our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter).

Wine Doggies Website Wins Award

Sara Toliver of the Ogden/Weber CVB and a WACVB Board Member presents award to John Cooper of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau

Winedoggies.com,  a program developed by the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau to assist visitors traveling with their dogs, won an award last week at an industry convention and trade show.

Sponsored by the Western Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (WACVB), the annual Best Idea Program showcases innovative projects and creative marketing strategies submitted by WACVB members. This year’s Best Idea Program awards were presented during the 2012 WACVB Annual Conference September 20th in Eugene, Oregon.

According to the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau, Winedoggies.com is designed to assist travelers and their dogs with their visit to the Yakima Valley, providing a resource for pet-friendly businesses and must-see stops in the region. The website includes a ‘Doggie Bloggie’ hosted by a local canine, an interactive map of 54 dog-friendly businesses with open-pet policies, plus a section where dog-friendly businesses and guests can add pictures and stories of their dogs enjoying Washington wine country. The site launched in February 2012.

Awards also went to the Laguna Beach (CA) Visitors & Conference Bureau;  Monterey County (CA) Convention & Visitors Bureau and Park City (UT) Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Western Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus is a regional professional association serving more than 135 destination marketing organizations in the western United States and the western provinces of Canada.

Washington Wine Tasting During The Harvest

The season has turned. Nights are cooler and as the sun rises, there’s a mist on the valley floor.  Gold and red trees dot the distant hills.  It’s harvest time in wine country.   If you plan right, fall is a great time to visit and immerse yourself in the wine making process.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy Washington Wine Country during the harvest:

  • Plan ahead: In wine country many visitors come during the harvest and crush. That requires extensive advance planning for lodging, dining and activities.  Here in the Yakima Valley the weekend traffic is manageable and there are great activities like the Prosser BalloonRally, the Wine Yakima Valley Catch the Crush event in October or the Thanksgiving in Wine Country event the weekend after Thanksgiving.
  • Check the website of the local tourist office: They’re a wealth of information, especially about harvest and wine events.  Also, regional and state wine associations are a good source to help you plan. In the Yakima Valley check the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail or Wine Yakima Valley for updates and information.
  • Learn before you go: Visit websites and videos about the regions and wine making process. Brush up on the art of tasting and basic wine terms. And if you use Twitter, try hashtags to follow the online conversations, like #WAwine.
  • Wine regions are agricultural regions: With a few exceptions, most vineyards and wineries are located on rural back roads. That’s part of their charm. During harvest though expect more traffic, especially farm equipment. In the Yakima Valley the wine grape harvest coincides with other fruit harvests. Be patient and obey the rules of the road.
  • Designate a driver: Basic rule for any season. Be sure to reward them for the duty though, like buying the lunch or a bottle for later on!
  • Pace Yourself: Plan on visiting up to five wineries a day. Your palette will go numb if you try to tackle too many wineries. Plus, during harvest you may want to linger to watch what’s happening.
  • Expect a different mood: It’s very different at wineries in the fall. There’s a tension and excitement as the winemakers and staff work to bring in the grapes. The hours are long and all hands are on deck. Ask questions about what’s going on, but be respectful if they have limited time to chat.
  • Prepare for the weather: And remember the wine! It may be cooler, but on sunny mild days the temperature inside a trunk or car can climb to a level not good for wine. Bring a cooler or two.
  • Get involved: Many wineries have programs where you can actually work the harvest. You wear your grubbies, get an assignment and work the fields harvesting or other tasks. It’s a great way to gain a greater appreciation of the hard work that goes into making wine plus learn directly from the winemakers.
  • Learn about dog friendly wineries: A great resource in Washington Wine Country is winedoggies.com
  • Fly to Washington Wine Country: Your Vacation to Washington Wine Country Just Got Easier – with the Taste and Tote Program. Check your first case of wine free from Yakima, Tri-Cities/Pasco or Walla Walla on Alaska Airlines. Enjoy waived rental car drop fees from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass for waived tasting fees at participating wineries.  Extra Benefits for booking your Taste and Tote Flight between September 1-15! Airlines to Yakima, Pasco/Tri-cities, or Walla Walla and save 10%! It’s easy; just enter EC2451 at alaskaair.com in the discount code box. The discount will be applied automatically. Travel September 1, 2012 – November 15, 2012, book by September 15, 2012. Not valid for travel from Mexico, Hawaii, or Prudhoe Bay. Additional terms, conditions, and restrictions apply.

With the right planning and attitude, a visit to a wine region during the harvest and crush is an exceptional way to learn about fine wines. Enjoy!

Washington Wine Country Promotion Announced

Yakima, WA- (August 17, 2012)The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention BureauTourism Walla Walla  and Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau announce the launch of a new collaborative effort with Alaska Airlines and Enterprise Rent-A-Car to promote Washington Wine Country. Launching September 2012, Washington Wine Country Taste and Tote will make it easier and more affordable to taste and travel the Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Valley wine regions.

As part of this new partnership, Alaska Airlines will expand its existing wine check-in program “Taste and Tote” to the Yakima and Pasco/Tri-Cities airports.  Originating in the Walla Walla Valley in late 2011, this program allows outbound passengers to check their first case of wine free on their return flight. In addition, Enterprise Rent-A-Car will waive car drop-off fees for visitors flying on Alaska Airlines into Yakima, Pasco or Walla Walla regional airports who wish to fly out of one of the other two airports.

“The ‘Taste and Tote’ program has been a big success in Walla Walla and we feel our expansion to the Pasco and Yakima airports shows our dedication to being Washington Wine Country’s airline of choice,” said Clint Ostler, Alaska Airlines’ manager of retail advertising and sponsorships. “Washington State’s tourism and wine industries are so closely connected and we are committed to making it easier for travelers to visit our award-winning vineyards.”

Other features of the new program will allow travelers to sample wines at participating wineries and pay no tasting fees when they show a current Alaska Airlines boarding pass from one of the three airports.

“This is a great partnership for everyone involved, especially our visitors,” said John Cooper of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “This program gives travelers the opportunity to spend an extended vacation in Washington Wine Country and not pay extra during their stay, either in car rental, airline baggage or wine tasting fees.” The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau initiative the cooperative effort to expand the program beyond Walla Walla.

The majority of visitors to Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities region and Walla Walla Valley wineries come from the Seattle and Portland metropolitan areas. Organizers hope that with these added incentives, visitors from these destinations and others served by Alaska Airlines will utilize air service for their trip to Washington Wine Country. Additional details on the Taste and Tote promotion are available at www.tasteandtote.com.

About Washington Wine Country

Founded in 2003, Washington Wine Country is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wine-related tourism by fostering collaborative regional partnerships throughout the wine growing region of Eastern Washington, where 98 percent of Washington State’s wine grapes are grown. For more information, visit www.winecountrywashington.org.

About Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines flies nonstop from Seattle to Walla Walla Regional Airport twice daily ; to Yakima Air Terminal three times daily ; and to the Pasco/Tri-Cities Airport five times daily. Starting Aug. 27, the carrier will begin new daily service between Pasco/Tri-Cities and Portland, Ore..  Connections can be made beyond Alaska’s Seattle and Portland hubs to destinations in Alaska, the lower 48, Mexico and Canada. To purchase tickets, visit www.alaskaair.com or by calling 1-800-ALASKAAIR.

About Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Enterprise Holdings, through its regional subsidiaries, operates more than one million cars and trucks, the largest fleet of passenger vehicles in the world today. Enterprise Holdings is North America’s largest and most comprehensive service provider in the car rental industry, operating the Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands.