Over the years Bend has been well served by its abundance of tourism activities from golfing, fishing, rafting and cultural attributes including festivals and the High Desert Museum.
In fact, a recent competitiveness report on business location and retention factors prepared by Headwaters Economics declared that numerous business owners visited the region first as a tourist and that: there is a firm connection between pleasure and business travel-stimulated entrepreneurial migration.
Enter Doug LaPlaca, executive director of Visit Bend, the tourism marketing arm of the city. In a proposal to Bend City Councilors dubbed A Plan for Job-Creation and In-Migration Through Tourism LaPlaca offered up a new marketing concept that could prove to help our struggling economy.
Tourism in Central Oregon, which generates nearly $500 million annually in visitor spending and contributes over $2 million each year to the City of Bend’s general fund, is an industry that just could be the catalyst to give job development a boost.
Despite the economic stimulus generated by visitors during their stay in Bend there has never been a marketing effort to connect tourism and in-migration.
LaPlaca notes that we have not activated programs designed specifically to bridge the gap between tourism and job creation, until now.
The plan, approved by Bend City Council, outlines a five-step sales cycle that leverages Bend’s existing tourism development efforts, utilizes the tourism industry as a lead-generator in the recruitment process and incorporates programs designed specifically to convert visitors into local residents and local business owners.
LaPlaca says that the concept of marketing Bend to potential visitors will remain the same but the message will be different. It’s a compelling concept: that whoever visits Bend will eventually move here. The marketing campaign will remind visitors that Bend is the ideal place to nurture your family, business and soul blending the perfect balance of an idyllic lifestyle, affordable cost of living, vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and competitive business advantages. For the first time we will be actually asking visitors to move here.
Visit Bend already has all the pieces in place to launch the new message including its visitors guide, public relations, group sales, social media, website and media buys. All advertisements will include a call-to-action to request more information on relocation. Visit Bend will manage the inquiry database and conduct inquiry fulfillment. Implementing the campaign will be paid for through an existing operating budget at Visit Bend.
Additional funding of $34,500 from a special economic development fund was approved that will pay for creative services and campaign development, brochure design and copywriting, printing, postage and shipping and site visit expenses (when the visitor actually turns into a lead and returns to consider relocating their business here).
LaPlaca hopes to have the new message launched by September.
Potential business leads will be followed by an Economic Development of Central Oregon representative. The two organizations working together to generte business leads makes perfect sense and finally solidifies the connection between tourism and in-migration of jobs. pha