DESTINATION OSOYOOS, PARTNERS BEGIN DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM MARKETING PLAN
OSOYOOS TIMES-September 29, 2010
By Paul Everest – Osoyoos Times
Representatives of the Town of Osoyoos, the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS), the NK’MIP Resort Association, the local Tourism Advisory Committee and Destination Osoyoos sat down on Sept. 21 to map out a new tourism marketing strategy for the Osoyoos area.
The day-long brainstorming session at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort was led by Jennifer Houiellebecq, an industry development specialist from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, and was meant to kick off the development of a new three-year plan to increase and enhance tourism in Osoyoos.
The new plan would guide Destination Osoyoos’s tourism marketing efforts from 2011 to 2013 as the current three-year plan expires on Dec. 31.
According to a Destination Osoyoos media release, the 15 participants who attended the meeting, including community and business representatives, agreed that the new plan should focus on improving local customer service quality and training, marketing local events through cooperation with community groups, attracting business meetings, conventions and weddings to the area, marketing more high-profile events in the fall and spring and developing services at Osoyoos’s Visitor Information Centre.
A draft plan is expected to be prepared within a few weeks, the release states.
That plan will then be considered by Destination Osoyoos, the trio of partners the organization is providing marketing services for including the Town, the RDOS and the resort association, as well as other partners.
Coun. CJ Rhodes, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Town along with Coun. Margaret Chadsey and Jim Newman, the Town’s community development manager, said the gathering was a “positive session.”
He said he was happy that one of the plans that came out of the meeting was a renewed commitment from Destination Osoyoos to focus on “community engagement.”
Such engagement, Rhodes said, includes finding ways to support community events and the efforts of the Osoyoos Festival Society.
Don Brogan, chair of Destination Osoyoos’s board of directors, said the session allowed participants to narrow down ideas from a “broad picture” of what tourism marketing efforts are needed in the area to a streamlined set of “key issues.”
He added that during the meeting, participants completed brainstorming exercises where they filled out roughly 40 large pieces of paper with up to 30 marketing ideas and by the end of the session, the group had come up with eight or nine “hard ideas” for the marketing plan.
Houiellebecq will take the ideas that came out at the meeting and write up the draft plan.
She’ll come back to town and present the plan to Destination Osoyoos and the partners, said DO executive director Jo Knight.
The partners and DO will then approve the plan.
Knight said it could take up to a month for the draft to be written.
One difference between the plan that is being developed and the current three-year plan that expires at the end of 2010, Brogan said, is the tax revenues Destination Osoyoos can work with for marketing activities.
Since hotel revenues are down in the area, he said, there is less hotel room tax cash to work with, so the organization will have to be “smart” about where it spends money.
Brogan added that the strategy session on Sept. 21 was not about deciding how much money should be spent on a certain marketing area.
The development of a new tourism marketing strategy comes as a result of a new agreement between the trio of partners and Destination Osoyoos which was finalized on Sept. 14.
The partners have agreed to contribute $150,000 that DO will use to carry out marketing services for the entire Osoyoos area.
Through the agreement, the Town will contribute $72,876, the RDOS will contribute $12,000 and the resort association will contribute $15,124, with the remainder of the funding, a total of $50,000, coming from monies collected through the two-per-cent Additional Hotel Room Tax.
Up until last year, the Town contributed $226,000 to Destination Osoyoos to provide tourism marketing and economic development services.
This summer, however, the Town hired a community development manager to handle economic development responsibilities.