As any vendor knows, it’s not enough to lay out wares, spruce up the storefront and sit back with hands folded, waiting to be discovered. To attract shoppers, a marketplace has got to make itself known.
That seems to be happening with the Land of Umpqua, as it’s promoted by the Roseburg Visitors and Convention Bureau.
A recent report released by the bureau indicates that people who come to the area or stop while passing by are relishing certain features of our Southern Oregon hospitality. In addition, Bureau Director Jean Kurtz has said she’s optimistic that the number of drop-ins at the Roseburg Visitors Center will increase, along with traffic on the bureau’s website.
Now that spring is advancing, so is interest in what Douglas County has to offer guests. That’s good for our hotels, restaurants, recreation suppliers and other merchants.
It wasn’t so long ago that the bureau had to prove it was worth the hotel-motel taxes the city was supplying to raise the area’s profile. Financed largely through the $400,000 annual allocation, the bureau in 2011 was tasked by city officials with justifying the expenditure. A proposal was floated to divert half the sum to construction of a tourist attraction within city limits, such as developing the South Umpqua River waterfront.
Ultimately, the city council opted to continue providing the full amount. Kurtz came forward last year with documentation on how the bureau boosts the local economy. This year, she augmented the statistics with others that chart traffic to visitroseburg.com and provide snapshots of travelers who check out the bureau or are planning to visit county sites.
It turns out that outsider interest is rather fluid. Wineries and waterfalls appear to be at the top of tourists’ lists, according to online surveys.
In addition, the surveys show that visitors expect to stay two to three nights, spending nearly $200 a day. The fact that the county offers inexpensive amenities and activities may be a boon in pinched times, Kurtz said. People view the Land of Umpqua as affordable and they expect to pay return visits. Other demographic details help the bureau gauge whether it’s effective in reaching its target audience.
A glance at the bureau’s website certainly seems not only comprehensive but also brimming with appeal. Links showcase attractions west to east from the coast over to the gateway to Crater Lake, and north and south along the Interstate 5 corridor from Drain to Canyonville. There’s a suggested four-day itinerary, video clips, an event calendar, meeting planner and even access to a self-guided walking tour of the 1959 Roseburg Blast.
Modesty has its place, but the bureau has demonstrated that a certain amount of feather-preening is in order to keep our collective nest in view of discretionary spenders. If the Ashland-based marketing firm Dennett Consulting Group is correct in calculating that Roseburg gets a 14-to-1 return on every dollar the bureau spends on promotion, then it seems to be a fruitful investment of hotel-motel tax dollars that’s worth continuing.