The Lincoln City City Council Monday evening got an up close and personal view of the future of tourism promotion, regardless of where a tourist destination might be anywhere in the world. Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB) Director Sandy Pfaff and her social networking assistant laid out the new “facts of life” that are revolutionizing tourism promotion all over the world.
Pfaff described the exploding use of the city’s Facebook page and visitors website by thousands of visitors who are zeroing in on various attractions that Lincoln City has to offer; it’s hotels and shopping, natural environment and special events, restaurants and arts and crafts. Pfaff says the VCB’s Facebook page and website requires monitoring 7 days a week for as many hours as are humanly possible because the demand for information, questions being asked and recommended things to do in and around Lincoln City, is nearly non-stop. Pfaff says when somebody engages the VCB via their Facebook page, they expect a thorough answer and very quickly. VCB’s Facebook hits are in the hundreds of thousands, some of whom figure things out for themselves using the resources on the page, while others want personal contact.
With Mayor Dick Anderson leading the charge, councilors wanted to know if major tourism destination properties in Lincoln City are linking to each other so as to better satisfy the curiosity of potential visitors on what’s available for lodging, dining and recreation. The answer seemed to be a definite “no.” Pfaff explained that each property is worried that if they link to other properties, they might lose customers. Pfaff said it is far better that they link than to “stovepipe” each other which requires a lot more effort on the part of potential visitors to find out what’s going on.
On another front, City Manager David Hawker predicts that lodging properties will eventually be asked to report their occupancy rates in order to gauge the effectiveness of various tourism promotions. He said although just the thought of revealing such data scares property owners to death, such reporting in the future may be required in order to better fine tune local events and various promotions in order to ensure more visitors for everybody. By having the occupancy data, they’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. The key, says Hawker, is keeping that data absolutely confidential – shared with no one except for the few eyes charged with directing tourism strategies. He said working together to cross-promote events and activities that compliment each other, or offering entertainment centered around a common theme, can draw more and more visitors who add to everybody’s bottom line. Interlinking websites among major Lincoln City businesses will only get more important as time goes on.
Pfaff says the social media is immediate; it’s filled with tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people who are already motivated to have a good time on the coast. She says Lincoln City is getting accustomed to meeting their desires and preferences. And she predicts it can get a lot busier if they master this relatively new method of directing demand to Lincoln City via social media on the internet.