ELMA, WA – As sure as spring flowers bloom and trees bud, a new marketing campaign promoting tourism in Grays Harbor County launches. This year’s advertising is a further execution of the well-established “unforgettable” theme with a few new twists.
“Our advertising efforts this year are focused on keeping our top-of-mind awareness among Washington visitors through television, print and the Internet,” said Mike Bruner, director of the Grays Harbor County Tourism office. “Especially now that it is spring, visitors like to engage in outdoor activities such hiking, biking, birding, fishing, boating plus clam digging. We introduce the concept that, indeed, nature plays favorites with many activities existing in once place at one time. It also ties in well with the outdoor-adventure seasons.”
Aided by a small promotional budget financed by the local 3% hotel and motel tax, Grays Harbor County has tapped tourist dollars with cable television, Internet information, a four-color ad in the Washington State Visitors’ Guide and increased public relations and social media efforts.
“We really don’t have a huge budget compared to some other destination marketing organizations,” said Bruner. “We must think and plan a lot more creatively with our media and public relations efforts. The mix includes cable TV, on-air broadcast TV and selected spots on outdoor sports programming. It fits with the off-season demographic we are targeting.”
Despite a decline in the local economy and a national turndown in tourism, Grays Harbor enjoyed an increase in overnight stays during 2012. This was helped by events such as the Outdoor Adventure and Travel Expo at the fairgrounds in the spring. Overall, income from the Grays Harbor County Fair also was also up. The fair enjoyed its best year ever with hopes to continue the success this summer.
“Grays Harbor travel is very individual,” said Bruner. “The county previously did promotions with radio and direct mail that just kept us in place. We weren’t sure if we could do much to improve the outcome. Now, we are convinced we made the right media moves which have resulted in an increase in tax revenue.”
An updated tourism website, a larger social media strategy and new television commercials supporting local events were the centerpiece of the marketing campaign. The successful ideas are carried over and expanded in the 2013 tourist season.
“Generally speaking, travelers to Grays Harbor County are individualists. Some are teachers, beachcombers, photographers, hunters, anglers, thrill and curiosity seekers, and clamming aficionados. Our marketing and public relations efforts need to tap into that adventure-travel segment.”
“We have a sense of awe and respect for the raw power of nature and the outdoors,” continued Bruner. “It’s a great thrill to share this Grays Harbor experience with others.”
“Like the rest of the Pacific coast, our county is usually cold and wet in the winter,” Bruner says. “But, you can sit behind a window and watch brewing storms and reeling birds, white-capped waves or take just a brief stroll on the beach to see what treasures the waves have stirred up. Then, you understand the magnetic draw that ocean storms have out here. We love it,” he said.
“Challenging weather always seems to attract hearty souls and adventurers who enjoy the thundering surf as they dig for the abundant shellfish,” said Bruner. “Many families make the drive to the coast for a weekend excursion that everyone can afford and enjoy. The clam digging is fun, the surf is exciting, and the freshly harvested razor clams taste great.”
For more information on winter tourism and accommodations, visit Grays Harbor Tourism at visitgraysharbor.com