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The Alaska Travel Industry Association announced plans today to improve its marketing efforts by creating a distinct image for advertising Alaska and by being more accessible to people planning trips.
The plan, which acknowledges increasing competition from remote travel locations and declining growth in the Alaska travel industry, will include an aggressive program to find potential customers and motivate them to request Alaska trip-planning information, ATIA officials said.
The major components of the plan are consumer marketing, niche marketing, trade and international marketing, inquiry fulfillment and market research.
Eric McDowell of the McDowell Group research firm told ATIA members Wednesday that Alaska showed a significant decline in tourism this year. McDowell's presentation ended with a strong push for marketing, advice taken seriously by the ATIA.
"Setbacks are not the best time to pull back on marketing," said Kathy Dunn, marketing director for ATIA. "Most of the companies here recognize that. Some people may scale back, buy an eighth of a page ad instead of a sixth, but businesses understand the importance of marketing."
ATIA's new marketing plan includes 10-second television advertisements to be aired on cable networks; new press kits; an Alaska Media Road Show that will allow ATIA members to meet with representatives of the national travel media; a redesigned vacation planner including a "How to plan a trip to Alaska" section; usability studies for the ATIA Web site, www.travelalaska.com, to ensure the site's effectiveness; and ATIA attendance at trade shows in the United States and around the world.
All areas of the ATIA plan will incorporate a new logo and slogan unveiled today at the convention. The logo is the word "ALASKA" with mountains made out of the tops of the A's, and the slogan is "Beyond Your Dreams. Within Your Reach."
Mark Bradley of Bradley/Reid Communications, the Anchorage firm that designed and tested the logo, said creating a brand is important for the tourism industry because it shows the integrity of Alaska, gives more predictability to a trip here and serves as an unwritten warranty for the traveler.
The Alaska Travel Industry Association is a statewide, nonprofit organization representing more than 1,000 businesses. It was formed in 2000 as a melding of the Alaska Visitors Association, the Alaska Tourism and Marketing Council and the state Division of Tourism.
The purpose of the ATIA convention is twofold, said Ruth Rosewarne, meeting and event coordinator for the organization.
"It's both educational and collaborative," she said. Members of the ATIA attend workshops on topics such as small business accounting, Web design and search engine techniques, and how to deal with the stress of running a small business. Opportunities to meet and collaborate with other industry members also is a big part of the convention.
"The most important thing it's brought to me is the marketing," said Juneau businesswoman Becky Janes, owner and operator of Above and Beyond Alaska, a guiding company that offers day and overnight kayaking, hiking, ski touring and mountaineering excursions. She's received a lot of positive feedback for her employee-owned business, which she started in January.
"People keep saying how they're excited by our company, that we're going after a different niche," Janes said. She wasn't intimidated by the slow 2002 season, either.
"It gives me the courage and drive to pursue this," she said. "If you have the right strategy and the perseverance, you can succeed."
The convention had 550 registered participants this year, only a small portion of which were from Juneau, said Lorene Palmer, president and CEO of the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau.
According to a McDowell Group study, the convention brings $1 million in revenue to the city, Palmer said.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.