If two is stronger then one, then businesses that find partners could reap greater success, according to Jeff Miller, CEO of Travel Portland
Cannon Beach has “everything you could want” to attract visitors to the area, said Miller, who spoke about connecting the tourism industry with retail during a seminar sponsored by the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce Feb. 24.
In addition to partners within Cannon Beach, businesses could seek links outside the area that share tourist-attracting attributes, Miller said. He played a short portion of a reality television series from The Netherlands where competitors on a worldwide scavenger hunt traveled to Portland. The video clip displayed the beauty of Oregon, including Cannon Beach. About 13 million people watch the show, Miller said.
Some may be intrigued enough to visit Oregon.
“One thing we know is that people will stay in Portland and go to the coast,” Miller said.
Travel Portland, a nonprofit organization that promotes tourism to Portland, participates in distributing the popular Chinook Book, which features coupons from Portland area businesses. Miller suggested that Cannon Beach businesses might want to consider including coupons in the book “to get promotions in the hands of visitors who might be attending meetings here.”
The book also is distributed in San Francisco; Phoenix and Minneapolis.
To capture visitors’ interest, consider what Cannon Beach is known for, he suggested.
In Portland, Miller said, “we don’t really have (specific) places where people go. We don’t have an iconic tower or a Space Needle. People come to Portland to share our experiences and values, such as artisanal food. Portland doesn’t try to impress; it’s laid back, and people go to the local spots in Portland to find those things.”
While Portland is a tax-free shopping destination, Cannon Beach has art galleries. “That’s something you own that we can’t own,” Miller said.
Local live theater also is strong, he added. “The (Coaster) Playhouse Theatre is a gem,” Miller said.
Visitors want destination “packages,” said Miller, who suggested that local businesses “find a few influencers in Portland to help you.” Partnerships combining both destination locations is possible, he added.
But, he also said that lodging operators must be sure that packages offer the lowest price available at that location during the time the package is offered.
Packages can include dining options — “Brunch is huge,” Miller said. Or they might be two-for-one passes at attractions, such as museums, or a free glass of wine.
“I don’t think people want a free meal, they just want to be appreciated for visiting that venue,” he said.
Miller praised the Cannon Beach chamber’s website, which he called “outstanding.”
“It made me want to come to Cannon Beach,” said Miller, who owns a home in Gearhart. He noted that the Travel Portland website has been translated into eight languages. Travel Portland also focuses strongly on social media; the organization has 133,000 Twitter followers.
In addition to the names of member businesses, the chamber’s website “cannot ignore businesses doing really, really interesting things.”
”Some people don’t trust websites because they think it’s all paid,” he said. “Include businesses whether they are paid or not.”
In addition, the chamber’s websites and those of individual businesses need new content constantly, so potential visitors always have new ”stories” to intrigue them.
Tourism creates jobs, Miller noted, and if more emphasis can be placed on winter travel, more residents could count on winter income as well.
“Create a lot of connections,” he added. “You’ve got everything you could possibly need.”
Following Miller’s presentation, Court Carrier, director of the Cannon Beach chamber, said the chamber is putting many of his suggestions into place, including reaching out to businesses that aren’t chamber members.
“Our goal is to reach out and make sure everyone is represented,” Carrier said.