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.

Visitors Bureau Builds Tourism for Yakima Valley

As summer winds down and fall approaches, we want to share recent successes of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau in our efforts to build tourism for Yakima and the Yakima Valley.

August was a hugely successful month for media coverage resulting from our efforts! Notable coverage included articles in Lonely Planet online, Portland Magazine’s fall story, Seattle Time’s Pacific Northwest Magazine, Crave Local.com, 425 Magazine and others. In total the exposure generated $52,000 in advertising value and reached 20.5 million readers.

The Sports Commission finished the annual Hot Shots 3 on 3 Tourney in Downtown Yakima. We had a tourney record of 497 teams, an increase of 8.5% from 2012 and the sixth straight year the team numbers have grown. An estimated 12,000 people were downtown for the event.

Now the Sports Commission turns to fall events. September 13 and 14th we host the SunDome Volleyball Festival with more than 80 teams and close to 1,000 players from all over Washington and Oregon.

Following that we stage the Pirate Plunder Adventure Race October 5th. To date we have more than 860 registered (last year there were 878 total racers). This year we are partnering with the Allied Art’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival happening that day to make Yakima a weekend destination.

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

2013 Official Yakima Valley Visitors Guide Published

2013VguideCvrThe 2013 Yakima Valley Official Visitors Guide™ has been released. The full-color, 56-page guide covers the communities, events, attractions in the Yakima Valley, from Red Mountain to White Pass. It is a free publication of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.

“What’s different about this guide is that everything was designed to have consistency in look and appearance,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “From the advertisements to the community listings the design flows well. It reads more like a travel magazine than a typical visitors guide.”

The publication includes information and maps on the area’s wineries, produce stands and farmer’s markets, local heritage, festivals, outdoor adventure, dining, lodging, museums, the arts, entertainment, shopping, relocation and more.

To receive a free issue of the 2013 Yakima Valley Official Visitors Guide™ call (509) 575-3010, toll free (800) 221-0751, e-mail info@visityakima.com or stop by the Yakima Valley Visitors Information Center at 101 North Fair Avenue, off Interstate 82 in Yakima.  A digital version is available at www.visityakimavalley.org.

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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.

Pirate Plunder Adventure Race a Muddy Success

They came, they saw and they plundered…the mud that is.

More than 870 contestants (many dressed in Pirate garb) participated in the first Pirate Plunder Adventure Race in Yakima yesterday.  Contestants slogged through 4 miles of dirt, water, sand and mud while battling 17 obstacles.  Check out this on-the-course video done by a member of the local Cross Fit team.

In addition, Pirates greeted, encouraged and taunted the contestants as they made their way through the course. With a lively party atmosphere that included live music, beverages and food, participants and their families enjoyed the mild fall weather.

And while fun and adventure were the main motives, it’s hoped that the race will become a magnet for adventure racers from across the U.S. Preliminary data showed that nearly 15% of the contestants came from beyond the Yakima Valley, including Montana , Idaho, Oregon and Western Washington State. Those participants boosted the local economy in a muddy way!

Here’s a few local media stories about the adventure:

Yakima Herald story, plus video and pictures.  Yakima Herald Editorial

KIMA news piece    KNDO story on weekend events

The event was organized and staged by the Yakima Valley Sports Commission and Whiplash Sports, with presenting sponsor Steve Hahn Volkswagen~Audi~Kia and with the help of many other sponsors and volunteers. For more details on the event visit PiratePlunderRace.com and be sure to like the Pirate Plunder Race Facebook page.

See you next year mateys!

Pirate Plunder Adventure Race

All ye landlubbers and scallywags! Come to the Yakima Valley October 7th for an adventure of a lifetime…or be prepared to walk the plank!

The Yakima Valley Sports Commission with it’s partner Whiplash Sports have created the Pirate Plunder Adventure Race which is a 4+ mile obstacle course race that combines ever-changing terrain with 15+ obstacles to test your strength, stamina, and love of mud. You’ll climb over walls up to 12’ high, crawl through a 40’ long mud pit, slide down a 30’ water slide, battle through tires, and face many other challenges all while running through a combination of fields, mud, and sand pits!

Once completed, participants are greeted with a cold beverage, live music, and great food! This race is a great way to get you, your friends, and family away from the TV, off the couch, and covered in mud, so come on out and see if you’re worthy of the name “Pirate” or are you just another “Scallywag”.

Volunteers are needed to come dressed and act the role of pirates at various stations of the race to add to the experience. There are also other opportunities to volunteer.

To register or volunteer go to PiratePlunderRace.com

Yakima Valley Meeting Industry Plays Ball!

Last week, the meeting and hospitality industry of greater Yakima journeyed to Cheney Stadium in Tacoma to show meeting and sports planners that the region is ready to host their events and help them hit a home run!

Sponsored by Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, Yakima Convention Center and Yakima Valley Sports Commission, representatives from 20 groups came to the home of the Tacoma Rainiers to enjoy Yakima hospitality, learn about new amenities and services for the meeting and sports industry and have fun with a baseball theme.

Joining the organizations were additional meeting facilities like the State Fair Park and local hotel properties. The feedback received from the event planners was quite positive. In all, it was a home run!

State of Tourism Webinar Resources

On January 27th the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau presented a webinar on the state of the tourism industry. A number of resources were referenced or utilized for the presentation. Below are the various links of resources and information that may be of interest:

Yakima Valley VCB’s State of the Industry Webinar Slides (from 1-27-12 webinar).

Yakima Valley VCB’s 2011 Annual Report.

White House Website- Executive Order Establishing Visa and Foreign Visitor Processing Goals and the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness

US Travel Association International and Domestic Travel forecasts

Brand USA Powerpoint on new national tourism branding efforts

Blizzard Internet Marketing: Google Thinkinsights

Chase’s State of Washington’s Economy September 2011

Inc. Online- Business Travel and Social Media

Global Business Travel news release January 10, 2012

Successful Meetings online Meeting Trends for 2012

FUTURE WORKSHOP-

Join us February 22 11 am at the Yakima Convention Center for a live, in-person program on how to effectively use TripAdvisor as a marketing tool for your business.  Presenter is Todd Skelton, West Coast representative for TripAdvisor.

The seminar will cover the following topics –

o             Enhancing your TripAdvisor listing

o             Enhancing your website with free TripAdvisor tools

o             Maintaining a positive online reputation

o             Responding to guest reviews on TripAdvisor

o             Implementing strategies to help get more reviews on TripAdvisor-

The session will be a presentation style where Todd will show examples of how businesses are utilizing TripAdvisor and talk about best practices.

Cost: FREE to VCB members, $22 for non-members.

RSVP: 509-575-3010 or barbara@visityakima.com

Yakima Valley Visitors Bureau Saw Productive Year in 2011

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) reports 2011 was a successful year for the organization in attracting and serving visitors and groups.

The Yakima Convention Center saw significant growth last year. The center hosted 554 event days, a 14% increase over 2010. Attendance to events increased 17% to 149,543, breaking the attendance record of 143,800 set in 2006.   Earned revenue grew 17% over 2010 and exceeded 2007, the record year for the center in revenues. In its inaugural year, the new Outdoor Plaza had 27 groups utilizing the space.

Future conventions and groups booked by VCB staff were up 2% compared to 2010, and staff generated 185 qualified group business leads, an increase of 9% from 2010.  The Yakima Valley Sports Commission confirmed 365 future events for the Yakima Valley, an increase of 13% over 2010 with a projected attendance exceeding 86,800.

In consumer marketing, the VCB’s website had 211,943 unique visitors, a 28% growth in traffic over 2010 and a 76% increase over 2009. Requests for information resulting from advertising efforts increased 6.6% in 2011.

Through VCB public relations efforts, 106 media placements and articles appeared about Yakima Valley attractions and events with an advertising value exceeding $2.84 million. The Yakima Valley Visitor Information center served 14,997 visitors and responded to more than 6,600 information requests via email and phone.

More information on 2011 activities and future tourism trends will be shared during a free webinar hosted by the VCB, January 27th at 10 am. To register go to http://budurl.com/VCBwebinar .

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.