Post-it Notes the size of small world maps were posted around one of the conference rooms at the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria Tuesday.
They hung blank in anticipation of the group of those interested in expanding tourism on the Oregon Coast. Members of the Astoria-Warrenton and Seaside chambers of commerce, the Executive Director of the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Rebecah Morris, public relations consultants and business owners attended a brainstorming and workshop session to help generate a new tag-line for the Oregon Coast.
"Because we're so diverse - north, central and south - everyone has their idea of what works best," said Patrick Nofield, owner of Escape Lodging in Cannon Beach.
The Post-it Notes were covered with words like "serene," "rejuvenation" and "refreshing" during a series of group activities aimed at helping those in attendance find words to describe the feeling of the North Coast.
Prior to 2003, Oregon had $3 million annually to market tourism, but with the passing of the 1 percent lodging tax, that number jumped to $10 million. Of that $10 million, up to 15 percent returns to the area where it was generated. Currently, the Oregon Coast ranks second in receiving the most return on the room tax.
"We have always had a marketing plan and a brand," said Morris. "We wanted to step back and see whether our perspective was the same as locals."
Many in attendance agreed the North Coast is a rich place to visit with readily accessible beaches, distinct towns, the newest national park, bridges and the jetty.
After identifying these physical areas of interest, the group was asked to translate those areas into an emotional connection by finishing the sentence, "The Oregon Coast is ..." The responses included descriptions like "an awakening of the senses," "where I want to be," and a "playground for your inner child." The answers were further defined through a group consensus before the meeting ended.
"Participation today was excellent," said Maxwell PR representative Vicky Hastings, one of the consultants working with Oregon Coast Visitors Association. "We hoped they would understand the importance of communicating emotional appeal."
As part of the presentation, the marketing team discussed an informal online study that asked people within the Oregon Coast Visitors Association system for information about whether or not they had been to the Oregon Coast and, if they had, what their experience was like. The study identified married couples with children 18 and older, between the ages of 45 and 64 with an income of $50,000 per year or more as the primary tourism market for the Oregon Coast. Of the roughly 550 people who responded to the survey, 450 had been to the area.
The session held Tuesday will be performed twice more along the Oregon Coast in an effort to reach the central and southern coast areas. Once the three regions have brainstormed individually, the consultants will take the gathered responses and begin to build a tourism campaign.
"When these have been held before, the North Coast has sort of been the voice on that council. This gives everyone an opportunity to feel a part of it," said Nofield. "The way I look at it is: It's good for the state, it's good for the coast and it's good for my business."