Lincoln City tries to make vacation plans for tens of thousands of visitors – it’s called their “marketing plan.”
Lincoln City has a lot going for it to attract tourists but it can do a lot more. It just needs to beat the drums more loudly. That’s the short and the long of the Lincoln City Tourist Marketing Plan being offered by Visitors and Convention Bureau Executive Director Sandra Pfaff. Her report will be delivered Monday evening to the city council.
Pfaff offers a summary of the basics about Lincoln City’s tourism industry. She says the busiest time of the year for Lincoln City tourism is July through September when 41% of all tourist visitors move through. Next is April through June at 22%. Next, January through March at 21% and lastly October through December at 16%.
Pfaff says hotel/motel/VRD lodging numbers were probably around 2% higher in 2010 compared to 2009. She said lodging prices are stuck at what they were in 2007. She reports that 57% of Americans are cutting back vacation plans, and that no real growth in tourism can be expected for the next three years, due largely to the faltering economy, high unemployment and gas prices.
Pfaff says most Lincoln City visitors are from within a five hour drive from Tri-Cities, Seattle, Boise, Portland and the Willamette Valley. She says 66% of overnight stays are by Oregonians, and 54% of those are from Portland.
Pfaff reports that trends show that tourists are traveling more in groups, they’re eating out less and they’re shopping less. More of them are preferring Vacation Rental Dwelling rentals rather than standard hotels and motels, both of which are feeling an income pinch. Pfaff adds that there are more people coming over just for the day. They’re not spending the night.
Conventions and Business Meetings remain soft, due partly to limited facilities in Lincoln City. There is also limited transportation to and from Portland which has the nearest regional airport. She said it makes locations closer to Portland more attractive for small to medium sized business and convention events.
Pfaff says “The Beach” remains Lincoln City’s primary attraction, followed by shopping, outdoor recreation, gaming, dining in fine restaurants, arts and cultural events, museums and historic sites. Pfaff singles out “arts and culture” tourists as especially valuable since they comprise 23% of all visitors. She says 53% of them stay longer, and spend 35% more money than other tourists, on average.
Pfaff reports that Lincoln City has unique advantages in that it offers value priced vacation get-aways, customer service quality is high and is reasonably accessible to a number of population centers, including Seattle, Boise, and Portland. Weaknesses in Lincoln City’s visitor draw is that it lacks indoor venues that can handle crowds of 500 to 15,000. It’s also short of indoor meeting facilities.
But despite those shortcomings, Pfaff says Lincoln City can do a lot better job of promoting itself. She said too much energy expended through anger blaming others rather than concentrating on cooperating. She says the cities of Bend and Newport do a better job of branding themselves which sets themselves apart from other tourist-dependent communities.
Among VCB’s goals for luring more tourists to Lincoln City, Pfaff says they’ll be promoting what more tourists want to experience; vacations that teach something, something tourists can take home with them other than pretty pictures. She said such special events as “Ready-Set-Cook” and “Learning Feast” are good examples of that. But also she points out that Lincoln City needs an events center for a lot of this to play out.
And finally, Pfaff says Lincoln City must ensure that it remains a “diversity friendly” town so that latinos, asians, anglos and blacks feel comfortable walking around. She said they’ll also be targeting married women with no children whose annual household income exceeds $70,000, gays, lesbians, transgenders, green travelers, along with small business and association meetings and retreats.
The full marketing report is available on line at OregonCoast.org