Travel Pendleton shifts focus to ‘tripsters’

A still image from the Travel Pendleton marketing campaign video shows four young travelers visiting Pendleton.

Photo contributed by Duke Joseph

A still image from the Travel Pendleton marketing campaign video shows four young travelers visiting Pendleton.

Travel Pendleton is refining its marketing messages from hipsters to tripsters.

The committee of the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce launched a marketing campaign last year using $10,000 in Umatilla County economic funds to advertise to millennials in certain Seattle neighborhoods. At the time, Pat Beard, head of Travel Pendleton, dubbed it “the hipster project.”

Now the campaign is shifting from Seattle to Portland, Beard said, and aiming for “tripsters.” He said those are the sort of folks who are keen for an authentic experience they cannot have right in their own back yard. Eastern Oregon offers craft beer, scenic road trips and a real sense of Americana, he said — “things that would appeal to millennials.”

Beard, during a recent update to the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners, said millennials — born between 1977 and 2000 — remain the target audience because they make up 25 percent of the country’s population and account for 21 percent of discretionary spending. And 80 percent of them took four or more “get-away trips” last year.

Social media — namely Facebook and Instagram — remains the main tool Travel Pendleton uses to bring attention to the Round-Up City. The marketing effort at the end of 2015 reached 33,000 people with a post or video on Facebook, Beard told the board, and more than 5,000 people “took an action,” such as sharing a video or commenting. Those people, he said, are the most likely to visit Pendleton.

Beard on Friday said larger numbers of visitors are showing up in Pendleton from the Portland area. That makes sense, given Interstate 84 is a direct route between the two cities and Pendleton already has some name recognition. An increase in visitors helped account for about a 20 percent increase in Pendleton’s tourism promotion assessment charge, he said, the per-night fee for staying in hotel rooms and using mobile home or trailer park spaces that funds Travel Pendleton and capital improvements for the city’s convention center.

Last year’s campaign used videos featuring a trio of young travelers sampling Pendleton. Beard said the story of those travelers continues in photos and videos 15-60 seconds long available on Travel Pendleton’s Facebook page. He said those snippets in 2015 piqued the interest of more than 19,000 people who reacted to them in some way on Facebook.

SeaPort Airlines and a couple of local hotels also are trying to get in on the get-away trips, Beard said. The lone air service provider to the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport, Pendleton, is working to come up with a package for a three-day weekend. He said that could be available within two weeks, and SeaPort would advertise it.

Umatilla County had 800,000 overnight visitors in 2013, according to Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism promotion department, and overnight and day visitors spent $134 million. It takes $62,086 in visitor spending to support one job, according to the report. Beard said local shopping and restaurants survive because of those tourism dollars.

That money could grow this year. The Pendleton Cattle Baron’s Weekend in the second weekend of May has become an established annual event. Pendleton Bike Week is returning for a second year. Beard told commissioners the motorcycle-themed event last summer brought 5,800 visitors to Pendleton and already 12,000 people registered for this year. And tickets now are on sale for the new Pendleton Whisky Music Fest in July.

Pendleton, Beard said, is ripe for events like these.

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