For the first time in more than 10 years, the Tacoma Regional Visitor + Convention Bureau welcomed elected officials from throughout Pierce County to share a part of the discussion at the annual bureau retreat.
At a breakfast meeting on Friday at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, the officials – plus bureau board members and others – heard from tourism experts and from Bennish Brown, who was named 10 months ago to head the TRVCB.
As to the numbers, the group was told that the tourism industry in Washington accounts for $16.4 billion in spending, and 150,900 jobs. In Pierce County in 2012, the industry generated $827 million in direct expenditures and 10,800 jobs. The industry likewise generated $21.5 million in local taxes.
And where potential visitors might have once relied on printed brochures, magazine advertisements or word-of-mouth, the greatest marketing tool today is the World Wide Web.
A tourism bureau’s website “is the No. 1 marketing tool,” said Dave Radcliffe of Radcliffe Co., a Spokane tourism consultancy.
Among other current industry trends, Radcliffe named social media, green marketing and a proliferation of choices that visitors face when deciding where to go.
“There is a lot of noise,” he said. “You’ve got to find your way above it.”
Brown told the assembly that the bureau is working to develop a new identity, and “the plan is to roll out the brand in June.”
One of the larger issues discussed Friday concerned convincing the cities, towns and other entities in the county to work toward a common goal. “The key message, if you’re gong to stay in the game, is that we’re going to have to cooperate regionally,” Brown said.
“This is the start to that conversation.”