SEASIDE — As Spring Break warms up the region for the travel season to come, Travel Oregon rolls out the sequel to its Seven Wonders campaign.
The 2014 campaign was the most comprehensive campaign Travel Oregon has ever run, said the agency’s Chief Executive Officer Todd Davidson.
“It’s also the most successful,” he added.
Davidson and the Oregon Tourism Commission were in Seaside on Feb. 10 for their quarterly meeting.
The hypothesis going in was that people think about travel in the spring regardless of when they plan to travel, he said.
Travel Oregon weighted its 2014 promotional efforts in the spring and did the bulk of its media buying then. It appeared to pay off. The agency keeps track of visitors to its website (http://traveloregon.com). Some people look around, get information and leave, Davidson said. Others sign up for one of Travel Oregon’s electronic newsletters or follow on Twitter or Instagram.
They’re called hand-raisers. The agency has 530,000 hand-raisers; 130,000 are new.
“Even when you look at our Fall responses, we were still up, what I call significantly double digits,” he said. Some months were up 40 to 50 percent over the previous year.
“We spoke to consumers at a time when they’re thinking about travel,” he said.
They’re sticking with the campaign in 2015. This year features Mt. Hood, the coast, the Columbia River Gorge, the Painted Hills, the Wallowas, Smith Rock and Crater Lake.
Travel Oregon produced a video about the coast designed to spur traffic during the off-season. “The Oregon Coast: A Winter Odyssey” highlights elements of the coast in a five-minute YouTube video. It breaks down into 15-minute segments that can be used as separate ads. It was off to a good start in early February, Davidson said.
“What’s been really fascinating for us is with no promotion having started yet, there’s a million and half views, so it’s basically gone viral,” he said.
The excerpts air on KGW TV in Portland and on KING and KONG TV in Seattle. They’re part of a 30-day campaign coupled with the Seven Wonders campaign. The video will also appear on some digital channels online.
Travel Oregon and the advertising agency hired to create the video chose to feature the entire coast rather than one particular beach.
“We asked, ‘What do consumers talk about? How do consumers look at what those iconic wonders are in Oregon?’” he said. “And what we realized is, it’s not a single spot on the Oregon coast, it is the Oregon Coast. It’s the fact that the coast is public; it’s the fact that the coast belongs to everybody, whether you live here or visit here.”
Jon Rahl, Seaside’s director of tourism marketing, said Travel Oregon’s efforts work well with the campaigns launched by local groups.
“It’s extending some of the work we started doing on the North Coast,” Rahl said. “It speaks to the collaboration that Travel Oregon has, that folks like OCVA [Oregon Coast Visitors Association] have. All these organizations work together and extend the message so that it’s not just about one community. It’s about multiple communities.”
People who visit the coast find they can visit other areas of the state and vice-versa, he said.
“It’s what makes Oregon so powerful as a destination.”
Rahl said 2014 room tax revenue in Seaside increased nearly 6 percent over the previous year, continuing a run of at least 12 consecutive quarters of increase in the bed tax, a key indicator of tourism activity.
“That’s a good sign,” he said. Mild weather has helped with that. People who would find winter adventure playing in the snow have had to look elsewhere.
That’s unfortunate for the mountain resorts, but a windfall for the coast.