Seattle Southside Five Year Strategic Plan 2009-2014
Prepared for Seattle Southside’s Tourism Partnership Stakeholders Seattle Southside:
As the official destination marketing organization of the cities of Tukwila, SeaTac, Kent and Des Moines, Seattle
Southside was formed through governmental inter-local agreements to provide the essential leadership and services to
competitively market the destination. This function is critical to growth and sustained economic prosperity of the
community, providing job growth, tax revenue and quality of life for residents and businesses.
Throughout the next five years, Seattle Southside will cultivate its leadership role in destination marketing for our region. We will do so by:
? Maintaining and expanding corporate and community alliances
? Enhancing a diversified portfolio of products and services
? Growing the leisure and group visitor segments
? Protecting and nurturing our brand through an integrated marketing program
? And focusing on key target markets
To enhance the local economy through tourism, and to competitively position and sell Seattle Southside in the state and
region as a superior destination for leisure and group travel by partnering with the tourism and hospitality industry.
Seattle Southside will encourage the development of tourism events, facilities and campaigns that will be recognized as
having a beneficial impact on area residents as well as supporting tourism growth. The organization will seek to deliver
exemplary information and service and to make the area one of the most innovative and active tourism communities and
destinations in the region.
1. Maintain and expand and develop corporate and community alliances that will support the organization’s efforts
to promote Seattle Southside as a visitor destination.
2. Enhance a diversified portfolio of products and services in a manner that maximizes the collective destination’s
3. Grow the leisure and group visitor segments while being sensitive to the destination’s long term sustainability.
4. Protect and nurture the destination’s brand through an integrated marketing approach designed to assure that all
brand contacts received by potential visitors and stakeholders are relevant to that person and consistent over
5. Focus on key target markets and strategies that maximize the systems and alliances that help deliver visitors to
Free and Independent Traveler (FIT): "Middle America" is 38% of this market. This group represents the average person traveling in America. Their ideal vacation offers a variety of experiences and they choose destinations with "lots
to do". They look for first-class treatment—but not necessarily luxury—and are apt to seek out "good deals". This group,
although less affluent, is financially comfortable. Most are high school graduates working in a variety of blue- and white-
collar jobs. This group looks for discounts and utilizes the Internet for trip planning and purchasing. Includes pre- and
post-cruise travel, intra-regional car travel, weekend trips with family and friends, travelers seeking cultural experiences,
SSVS’ target FIT is the repeat traveler to the Seattle area who is looking for an affordable, family-oriented experience.
Given its central location, visitors typically will use the Southside locality to explore Seattle, Tacoma, the mountains,
Peninsula and San Juan Islands.
Groups (SMERF): Those associations and corporations with the potential for selecting Seattle Southside as the venue for their
group events ranging from approximately 10 to 200 people including SMERF (social, military, educational, religious and
fraternal); also includes weddings, reunions and soccer and softball tournaments. These groups plan visits usually long in
advance and represent targets for customized packages.
Tour Operators: Qualified leads generated for group tour business from National Tour Association trade shows, Washington
State Tourism blitzes to New York and California, and the state’s international contractors in Japan, UK, Germany and Benelux.
Corporate/Business Traveler: People traveling on business will lengthen their stay and partake in visitor activities when given quality visitor information, time permitting. A nonworking spouse will take advantage of recreational and shopping
opportunities in the area. In addition, a business stay may convert to a leisure visit.
Area Residents: Keeping this group of opinion makers and gatekeepers well informed about new developments
will reap great benefits as our research indicates many travelers base their purchasing decisions on the
recommendation of a friend, family member or professional colleague. This group may host visiting friends and
relatives (VFR) who may stay in their homes, but many stay in hotels. Washington residents make up 51% of
visitor spending in Washington state, according to studies from the Business and Tourism Development Office.
Media: Visitors are heavily influenced by what they see in the media. Local media targets include travel writers,
newspaper and magazine editors, and TV and radio producers interested in news and features in the region. The
priority for regional press will be neighboring states, Alaska and British Columbia. New York and LA, hubs for
national press, are also a strong target market. Internationally, press targets will be from Japan, UK, Germany
and Benelux. Online travel sites with proven track records are another target.
Internal Audiences: It is important to maintain a high degree of communication between all stakeholders in
order to sustain active participation and support to achieve the goals of this program, i.e.: Tukwila Lodging Tax
Advisory Committee (LTAC), SeaTac Hotel/Motel Advisory Committee (HMAC), Southwest King County
Chamber of Commerce (SWKCC), City of SeaTac and Tukwila (Mayors, Council, City Management, Planning,
and Parks & Recreation), SeaTac and Tukwila hoteliers, SeaTac and Tukwila restaurateurs, area retailers,
transportation venues, etc.
External Partner Organizations: Partnering with the following organizations will leverage marketing
opportunities and strengthen the SSVS tourism program: Seattle CVB, Tacoma CVB, Puget Sound Attractions
Council, Washington State Group Tour and Travel Association, Washington State Tourism, Washington State
Hotel and Lodging Association, South King County Hotel Association, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce,
Seattle Concierges Association and the Port of Seattle.
Professional Travel Planners: Tourism leisure business can be developed through relationship building with
professional travel planners by inviting them on familiarization tours (FAM) and continuously updating them on
new product offerings.
The following objectives will be measured annually and be considered valid indicators of the success of the program over
the course of five years of strategic plan implementation.
? Increase visitor awareness of the consumer value and tourism opportunities within Seattle Southside.
o Measured by web stats, press releases distributed, press coverage, toll-free visitor inquiries, visitor
packets distributed, reader response request labels, name recognition (locally, regionally), etc. ? Increase the business volume of the joint tourism community by attracting new visitors and converting them into
consumers. In addition, turn one-time visitors into repeat customers.
o Measured through hotel stays, tourism-related tax receipts, packaged promotions results, “How Heard”
tracking, market research, economic impact studies, etc.
? Increase the hotel occupancy in the area with an emphasis during shoulder and off-season (October to May).
o Measured by online hotel reservations, lodging tax collected, guest surveys, anecdotal evidence from
hoteliers, group leads generated, group bookings (compare SSVS targets with actual bookings). ? Support the development of additional tourism products and services by engaging the local tourism industry in
o Based on the number of tourism networking meetings convened and attended, packages offered,
partnership programs developed, tangibles given to the program by partners (stays, dinners,
merchandise, etc.), web referrals, web links, participation as a tourism adviser on economic
? Create awareness in and support for SSVS’ programs among community partners, tourism and economic
development stakeholders, and the broader community.
o Report on types of partnership developed, initiatives undertaken, results and implications for the
o Provide an annual “Community Report” reporting on program outcomes and progress towards stated
measurable objectives, as well as monthly reports to the joint L-TAC and City Management. Issue periodic
reports to community partners.
Other strategic evaluation tools include:
o Increase in tourism-related business locating in the area.
o Expansion of existing businesses.
o Attraction of other industry sectors because of enhancements made by tourism industry.
o General confidence of program stakeholders.
The following strategies and implementation tactics are designed to meet the 5 year measurable objectives established
for this organization.
Update and optimize the Seattle Southside Website (www.seattlesouthside.com). The website is the most powerful
marketing tool available and is easily accessible by most consumers throughout the world. All communications will serve
to drive people to the website.
? Complete search engine registration monthly.
? Develop new in-bound links; update meta tags annually.
? Maintain and update content, links, calendar and images on a monthly basis.
? Enhance website as a commercial tool, i.e. online bookings, hotel reservations, coupon promotions, etc.
? Enhance website as a resource for local industry partners.
? Maintain a small-scale Japanese website to target prospective Japanese tourists. Promote places to stay, shopping
opportunities and places of particular interest to this market.
? Conduct direct mail campaigns to drive targeted customers to the website promoting the Seattle Southside as a
visitor destination, special offerings, partner programs, and so forth.
? Develop online advertising opportunities.
? Enhance cross-promotional links with tourism partners’ websites.
? Create online public relations opportunities, such as press trip itineraries.
? Enhance website as resource for the media.
Implement a media relations program by working proactively and reactively with a broad range of editorial media tourism.
(SSVS strives to sustain a role as a helpful and dependable resource to members of the media.)
? Maintain the online pressroom and photo library and promote press awareness of these as valuable
? Maintain a current database of media and press contacts, and make these available to community partners
? Issue periodic press releases and story ideas to all target media outlets.
? Coordinate efforts with OPPs (Other People’s Programs, such as Washington State Tourism, Seattle
Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Port of Seattle, Museum of Flight and other area-tourism venues).
? Obtain and make available quality images representing all facets of tourism in the Pacific Northwest, and
Seattle Southside in particular, for the website image library. 4 5/5/10
? Make copies of media coverage available to SSVS constituents and stakeholders.
? Develop new press kit highlighting Seattle Southside. Distribute it to local, regional and state media contacts.
Launch an advertising campaign to attract visitors through unique positioning and offerings.
? Purchase media placements/advertisements in travel-related publications, including Sunset Magazine, luring
visitors with the value and convenience of staying in Seattle Southside and entice them with the appeal of
favorite, familiar attractions in Seattle and other lesser-known attractions in the area. All advertising includes
a call to action for purposes of tracking and evaluation. Media placements vary annually, see annual media
Provide friendly visitor services to the public while encouraging overnight stays in Seattle Southside and assist in the development of new guest services that will serve to enhance the guest experience.
? Offer visitor information services dedicated to providing personalized assistance over the phone to travelers
who demand the best the region has to offer. Our visitor information specialists use an extensive database of
goods, services and information, ranging from local hotels, transportation, restaurants, shopping and regional
attractions to assist guests with their travel plans.
? Obtaining and processing visitor inquiries, then tracking that information for statistical analysis.
? Mailing “Visitor Information Packets” to guests who call the toll-free information line, contact SSVS via email
through the website or come in monthly via “reader response labels” from magazines SSVS advertises in.
? Continue to lead the transportation initiative, “Seattle Southside Express”. The shuttle achieves visibility for
the area and increases the level of satisfaction of hotel guests and shoppers.
? Offering online and printed tourism-specific promotional discount coupons to convert visitors into consumers.
? Produce and distribute a Seattle Southside Vacation Planner that represents SeaTac and Tukwila hotels,
restaurants and regional tourist attractions. Distribute through website request, reader response cards from
publications with a media buy, Certified Folder kiosks, hotel front desks, Seattle CVB information requests,
targeted direct mailings, toll-free phone calls, and so forth. Distribution will include highly visible locations
throughout the area. It is imperative that visitors be able to easily obtain information to help them access the
sites and attractions that will maximize the value of their stay in Seattle Southside.
? Maintain the 12” by 12” leather-bound Restaurant Book placed conveniently at all hotel front desks so that
visitors can easily obtain information about area restaurants to maximize their experience and desire to
? Build and promote new bundled hotel packages that include attractions, restaurants, shopping,
Establish Seattle Southside as a value-driven, quality destination for groups hosting events for 10 to 200 people, with an
emphasis on increasing off-peak bookings (weekends and October to May).
? Partner with the Seattle Sports Commission to coordinate bids for regional and national tournaments that
generate overnight stays.
? Develop new sightseeing itineraries seasonally.
? Continue to pursue and research cooperative marketing opportunities that focus on the group travel market.
? Develop and implement a new position statement for all publicity-targeted group travel, “Seattle Southside.
The Affordable Side of Seattle!”.
? Purchase media placements/advertisements in meeting/group travel magazines including Corporate
Meetings & Incentives, Association Meetings, The Meeting Professional, Seattle CVB’s Professional Travel
Planners Guide and Meeting Planners Guide, Group Tour Magazine, and Religious Conference Manager. All
advertising includes a call to action for purposes of tracking and evaluation. Ad placements vary annually.
See Annual Media Schedule.
? Review and revise meetings and convention press releases in Southside press kit. Include a cost comparison
for holding a meeting in the Southside versus Seattle.
? Distribute and pitch seasonal press releases to group travel editors annually.
? Coordinate sales efforts to qualified tour operators and meeting planners in the Pacific Northwest, California
and relevant travel tradeshows through a series of sales calls by staff and industry partners.
? Participate in state tourism-sponsored tour operator blitzes in targeted markets. Make prearranged sales calls
to qualified group tour operators and established travel press.
? Participate in the state tourism office-subsidized International Tour Operator Sales Mission. Make
prearranged sales calls to qualified group tour operators and the travel press at the International Pow Wow.
Extend the corporate/business travel market by engaging groups and individuals in leisure activities.
? Place visitor information in hotels.
? Send direct mailings to targeted corporate travel agencies.
? Distribute “What’s New” press release (twice annually).
? Support the corporate hotel sales staff as needed.
? Develop and implement a new position statement for all publicity targeting corporate travel planners: “Seattle
Southside. The Affordable Side of Seattle?”
? Coordinate and distribute tote bag of Southside tourism communications products and coupon books to area
corporate travel planners to encourage independent familiarization trips to Seattle Southside (include coupon
for free RT ride on the Seattle Southside Express).
Build relationships with the regional tourism network to create awareness about the Seattle Southside Tourism Program
in the trade and take advantage of partnership opportunities.
? Coordinate and distribute tote bag of Southside tourism communications products and coupon books to
Seattle concierges to encourage independent familiarization trips to Seattle Southside (include coupon for
free RT ride on the Seattle Southside Express).
? Establish cooperative, cost-effective initiatives with Washington State Tourism, Seattle CVB, Tacoma CVB,
Port of Seattle, Washington State Hotel and Lodging Association, and Puget Sound Attractions Council.
Include working with the Seattle CVB’s expertise and experience to increase exposure in the international
market segments, including the highly lucrative Japanese market.
Support the marketing and sales needs of Seattle Southside tourism businesses and hotel sales teams in particular.
(SSVS strives to sustain a role as a helpful and dependable resource to members of the tourism industry).
? Maintain and make available SSVS’s databases including visitor information request, media, associate
partners, leads, etc. on disk or labels to hotel marketing & sales staff for hotel-specific discount or
? Develop a public awareness campaign utilizing monthly electronic newsletters that report on the program,
provide partner co-op marketing opportunities, and other value information.
? Organize Tourism Networking Summits at least semi-annual.
? Maintain a consistent profile with local tourism interest groups by attending/participating in their monthly
? Continue presentations to various groups including chambers, visitor bureaus, city and industry groups.
? Sustain a program of business press releases to relate news important to the tourism industry and announce
important Southside activities for use on the website press room, newsletters, newspapers and radio.
? Keep abreast of ongoing product knowledge through site visits to visitor venues.
? Publish periodic “Outcome Reports” that include visitor industry statistics.
? Maintain a comprehensive resource library of materials pertaining to the travel tourism industry in King
County and Washington State.
? Continue to collect demographic data on all callers for purposes of building a complete database for future
promotions while asking all callers “how did you hear about us” for evaluation determination. The database is
made available to local hotel sales teams for additional promotional opportunities.
? Maintain memberships and cooperate, network and participate in co-op marketing efforts where appropriate
of the following trade organizations:
Travel Industry Association (TIA) represents the whole of the U.S. travel industry to promote and facilitate
increased travel to and within the United States. It is through this organization that we receive Travel News
Links, industry research, access to International Pow Wows and overall marketing resources.
National Tour Association (NTA) is the premier packaged travel association in North America. NTA’s
membership comprises more than 645 tour companies that package and sell to and within North America.
Puget Sound Attractions Council
Washington State Tourism
Washington Tourism Commission
Washington State Group Tour and Travel Association
Washington State Hotel and Lodging Association
Washington State Destination Marketing Organizatins
Western Association of CVBs
Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce
South King County Lodging Association
Contribute in economic development planning by providing input on tourism issues.
? Maintain a high degree of communication between City of SeaTac and Tukwila (Mayors, Council, City
Management, and Planning Departments) regarding economic development planning by providing input on
? Participate in committees, community meetings and conferences as requested by City Management.
Keep SSVS stakeholders informed.
? Provide monthly reports to joint L-TAC and City Management.
? Issue periodic reports to community partners.
? Provide an Annual Report to the Community reporting on program outcomes and progress towards stated
See the “big picture” and how customer service fits into it.
Establish an authentic human connection with each customer.
Render timely, accurate and thorough service.
Value and respond to unique customer needs.
Extend a hand—build and strengthen relationships with customers.