News

City’s tourism effort is a sight to see

By JACINDA HOWARD

The Mirror

Go ahead and stay a while. It’s all within reach.

The city’s new tourism materials incorporate these slogans to remind visitors that Federal Way has more to offer than what appears on its surface.

In spring 2006, the Federal Way Lodging Tax Committee recommended the city update its tourism materials. The committee collects a 1 percent tax from visitors to Federal Way hotels and applies that money toward promoting more tourism.

The city used to have a rack card, a brochure and an events calendar. However, they were not created by professionals and lacked a polished look, said Economic Development Coordinator Patrick Doherty.

Now, the city has an updated brochure, a calendar of events and attractions and a visitors map. The city is also updating the Web site www.federalway.org.

The new materials carry Federal Way’s logo as well as the slogan “It’s all within reach.” They are also more visually appealing and target four specific audiences.

“It makes Federal Way look more appealing from a marketing standpoint,” said Lillian Yeh, economic development assistant.

Visitors mean money

Anyone that comes from beyond the city limits to attend an event or attraction, or to socialize with friends and family, invests money into the city’s economy and can be classified as a visitor or tourist, Doherty said. The average person spends $75 a day when away from home, he said. The more visitors Federal Way can attract, the better its economy and quality of life will be, he said.

“The more places there are to go and things to see, the more the visitor takes away a good image of the community and wants to come back,” Doherty said.

With this in mind, a citizen advisory group stepped forward to assist in the creation process. Cipalla Communications of Seattle was hired to update the city’s tourism materials. The company determined that Federal Way could better market itself by creating materials that were synonymous and by cross-promoting the city’s attractions within four specific target audiences: Nature lovers, amateur sports enthusiasts, regional families and business travelers.

It had been more than four years since the tourism materials had been modified, and the city had undergone significant changes in that time, including its adoption of a logo and slogan. The lack of a consistent look kept tourists from picking up the old materials, Yeh said.

The city usually distributes 89,000 brochures at a time, Yeh said. She would like to need new materials within 12 months, compared to the 16 to 18 months it usually took for the old materials to be depleted by tourists, Yeh said.

“This showed us that we are not attracting people to learn about our city,” Yeh said.

It was necessary to incorporate the city’s logo and slogan, as well as keep the look and colors of the materials similar, so they would resonate with the tourism community and create credibility for the city, Cipalla said.

To create the look, Cipalla Communications stressed the city’s slogan of “It’s all within reach” on the cover of the new brochure. Each of the cover’s four elements show a person reaching for something — the edge of a pool, fresh produce at the farmers market, a soccer ball and a cluster of vibrant balloons.

Virtues of cross-promotion

Cipalla Communications and the city hope that cross-promotion, drawing an audience to one location, then advertising a similar location will help visitors representing the four target audiences identify Federal Way as a city in which they can meet their specific needs.

For example, the brochure categorizes events and attractions as they apply to the target audiences. Dash Point State Park and West Hylebos Wetlands Park are featured in close proximity to each other. Both offer nature lovers a chance to get outside and enjoy the weather and natural settings.

Celebration Park and Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center are listed in the same paragraph. They provide entertainment to amateur sports enthusiasts.

The brochure recommends cultural experiences, such as the Knutzen Family Theatre or the Federal Way Symphony, to families within the region or traveling businessmen and women who are visiting the city only for a short time.

The map is also a useful tool for the four audiences. It is designed to have a cartoon-like feel, with hand-drawn pictures representing tourist destinations. A purple rhododendron flower is featured in the bottom right corner to represent the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. A yellow sand bucket and shovel, representing Dash Point State Park, are featured in the upper left corner of the map. Although the map differs from the brochure slightly, the city’s slogan and logo as well as a similar color pallet let visitors know the map can be used in conjunction with the brochure.

The calendar and the Web site are also more visually appealing. Blue tabs highlight the “things to do” and “things to see” in Federal Way on the site. Places to shop, eat and spend the night are also featured.

Establishing credibility was only part of the task. Educating visitors about what Federal Way has to offer was the other part.

People pass by Federal Way on Interstate 5 and see signs, but they do not stop in Federal Way, Cipalla said. A lot of people don’t even realize Federal Way is on the water, she said. Through interviews and research, her company found that people knew of places, such as the King County Aquatic Center, the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and even Celebration Park, but many did not connect these locations to the city of Federal Way, Cipalla said.

“People were just not aware that those attractions existed in Federal Way,” she said. “They knew the bits and pieces, but weren’t putting them together.”

Now, with the improved tourism materials, the city and the tax committee hope people will be able to easily fit the pieces together to realize Federal Way is a place worthy of visiting.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

How much does Federal Way benefit from its attractions?

Celebration Park, Wild Waves and Enchanted Village, and the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center are just three of Federal Way’s many prominent visitor destinations. Each draws people worldwide to the city.

In turn, these people invest their money and resources into Federal Way’s economy.

A lot of the Aquatic Center’s events are held in February and March, which is usually a slow time of the year for hotels. But because of these events, local hotels are full and there is no displacement of revenue, said Gerry Lamontagne of the Federal Way Courtyard by Marriott, 31910 Gateway Center Boulevard S.

On weekends when there are no major events happening in the city, the Marriott’s occupancy ranges from 40 to 60 percent. But on weekends with events, especially those drawing people from outside the city, the hotel reaches full capacity, he said. In the summer and spring, Celebration Park draws a similar number of people for its sporting events, he said.

• Celebration Park: This 83.5 acre park is booked every weekend from May to October with local, regional, state and even national sporting events. Last September, Federal Way teamed with the cities of Kent and Tukwila to host the Senior Softball World Championships, featuring 220 teams. Of those 220 teams, 82 competed at Celebration Park, said Terry Hennessy, CIO of Senior Softball-USA.

• Wild Waves and Enchanted Village: With over 60 acres of theme and water park attractions, this is the only park of its kind in Washington state.

• Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center: Hosting more than 50 events annually, this facility maintains one of the most active competition schedules in the country. Events such as the Olympic Trials as well as top national and international competitions have been held here. A recent economic study conducted for King County reported the financial impact of these events exceeds $7.5 million annually, according to King County’s Web site, www.metrokc.gov.

• To learn more or view the new materials, visit www.federalway.org.

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