In July, Washington became the only state in the nation with no state-funded tourism office. Tourism is the fourth-largest industry in Washington – in 2010, travelers spent over $15 billion in the state* generating $1 billion in tax revenue. So while everyone laments the loss of The Washington State Tourism Office and its annual $1.8 million budget, I consider this recent turn of events as a temporary speed bump, and not a stop sign for WA State tourism.
Since I’m a think-big-and-make-things-happen kind of gal, I want to seize this opportunity to create a brand new website and modern media platform to connect the best of WA State with its travelers. GoWAState.com will be the definitive online travel guide for WA State visitors and locals with wanderlust.
GoWAState.com will be a highly interactive travel guide, much different than its informational only state-run predecessor. This will be a comprehensive resource for travelers, created and curated by experts and travelers – independent of bureaucratic organizations, member-run chambers and paid content.
The project will be spearheaded by Charyn Pfeuffer, a Seattle-based food, travel and lifestyle journalist, and social media and marketing maven who lives, loves and knows WA State, understands the resources people need to travel, and has the professional credibility and connections to make it happen. From the best hotels, hiking trails and most innovative restaurants, to cool events, must-have services and places to shop, GoWAState.com’s rule of thumb is this: If we wouldn't recommend something to our friends, we won’t put it on the site. We want to help create great in the know WA State travel memories for travelers instead of catering to meeting planners, travel operators and industry stakeholders. Readers can trust my journalistic integrity, knowing there will never be pay-for-play content on the site.
I’m not proposing a $1.8 million marketing campaign to woo big business, nor am I trying to replace the tourism board. My interest in WA State tourism is based in my belief WA State is the greatest place to live, play and explore in the U.S. and I want to share its diversity with visitors and local weekend warriors via an engaging new resource.
I plan to assemble a small team of travel experts and enthusiasts from around the state to create a frequently updated, dynamic travel community where people can share their WA travel experiences and visuals, post topic suggestions and engage in online conversations, both on the GoWAState.com website and via its social media networks. GoWAState.com will be an unbiased, user-friendly resource that promotes the best WA State has to offer, creates community and conversation, and ultimately, amazing travel experiences for our visitors.
GoWAState.com will include the following:
PROFILES OF WA STATE CITIES AND REGIONS
SEE, DO, EAT, STAY, GO – We will create a comprehensive directory of these usual travel planning suspects around the state, but supplement the database with recommendations from our statewide stringers.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE – This weekly Q&A will profile colorful characters and experts from around the state.
TRAVEL PLANNING TOOLS AND ITINERARIES – From planning a weekend with the kids to a romantic getaway in wine country or taking on WA State’s countless hiking trails, this section will include itinerary suggestions, as well as itineraries our travel experts, enthusiasts and stringers have taken and recommend.
COMMUNITY BOARDS – I envision a format similar to Chowhound.com, where users can post new topics and the community can comment. All responses will be archived for future keyword searches.
MONTHLY E-NEWSLETTER (website and subscription based)
WEEKEND HOT LIST (website and subscription based) – This round-up will make its way into inboxes first thing Thursday mornings and will include hot picks from around the state on what to See, Do, Eat, Stay and Go. This thoughtfully culled list of recommendations will provide weekend travel inspiration for both visitors and locals alike.
WEB DEALS (subscription) I want to offer limited time, last minute travel deals and discounts for subscribers.
GIVEAWAYS AND CONTESTS (via website and social media networks)
FREQUENTLY UPDATED CONTENT – Including “Where I’ve Been” blogs by myself and guest bloggers, which will give readers an insider’s/locals perspective.
SOCIAL MEDIA – I will have an active and engaging social media presence. I have registered @GoWAState on Twitter and GoWAState on Facebook. I also plan to set up a You Tube channel and Flickr account where people can share visuals from their WA travels.
Full disclaimer: GoWAState.com will never accept payment for favorable editorial/reviews and material connections will always be disclosed.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?A minimum of $50,000 in funding will enable me to design, create and curate original content and photography for GoWAState.com and allow me to dedicate myself fulltime to the website until it is financially sustainable (via paid advertisements, sponsored giveaways of products, tickets, etc., and sponsored web deals). If I exceed funding goals, I’ll explore appropriate print and online advertising options (for the site), as well as creating a mobile WA travel application. There is an immediate need for a resource like GoWAState.com and I’m ready to fully commit to its success if the project is funded.
WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN?If GoWAState.com is successfully funded, the website will launch spring 2012, before peak summer tourism season.
Paid advertisements, sponsored giveaways of products, tickets, etc. and sponsored web deals.
Thank you for taking the time to check out my project and thank you in advance for your support. Please feel free to ask me any questions. I want to hear what travelers want to see on GoWAState.com, afterall, this website is being created with your wanderlusting needs in mind.
All Backer Rewards are from EcoBrander Promos in Puyallup, WA. EcoBrander Promos specializes in eco-friendly and recycled promotional products.
- (60 days)