By editorial board • 

Mac's DMO decision worth the celebration

After a trial run at allocating lodging tax money through individual grants, McMinnville City Council on Tuesday approved creation of a destination marketing organization to handle all aspects of tourism promotion using room tax revenues.

Many cities have followed the same path - unwilling to immediately build new bureaucratic infrastructure and hire staff, but ultimately creating their own DMO organization. We are encouraged that the council heeded the advice of many and followed suit, and believe McMinnville will reap many benefits from creation of the DMO.

Congratulations aside, now it’s time to get to work. 

The first step is to hire a director who can act as both a player and a leader.

Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism department, has defined seven travel regions. Part of the statewide lodging tax is allocated to the seven Regional Cooperative Marketing Plan groups. The Willamette Valley RCMP is represented by the Willamette Valley Visitors Association, with six partnering local DMOs (Salem, Corvallis, Albany, Eugene area, Mount Hood and Yamhill Valley).

We hope McMinnville’s DMO will seek a seat at that table. Since this region touts its wine industry, and Yamhill County has about 70 percent of the state’s vineyard acreage, more representation for McMinnville and surrounding areas is much deserved. 

Speaking of wine acreage: It’s a guideline to how we spend revenue from the Oregon wine country license plate program, which has raised about $500,000 since the license plate debuted in May 2012. The state law creating the program designates half the revenue for matching grants distributed by the Oregon Travel Commission and the other half to four defined wine regions, with percentages of the kitty decided by wine acreage.

Again, it will be beneficial for a Mac DMO director to play an active role in handling those payouts.

Second, the city and its new DMO must develop McMinnville’s brand. This will take diligent discussions with local leaders and outside tourism experts. McMinnville has plenty to show off: a renowned wine and dining scene, “America’s Favorite Main Street ... West of the Mississippi,” beautiful landscapes, diverse events, major attractions and so on. But also, to tell its story well, McMinnville needs a tourism plan marketing it as a core visitor center for all manner of activities amid the rural beauty of northwest Oregon wine country.

Finally, with a director at work and a brand in place, it will be time to market McMinnville and build upon the local tourism industry. 

Nowadays, some may think the first step in a tourism project is to establish an Internet and social media presence. But we would urge a deliberate approach to those marketing tools. If the McMinnville DMO-to-be develops online platforms without having a sure-sighted brand as a guide, lack of cohesiveness in the ultimate message delivery will be likely. In essence, the DMO needs to think before it talks.

We look forward to following the creation of Mac’s DMO and celebrating the benefits it can produce for local businesses and the general economy.


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