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The Oregon Travel Plaza Project. A vision for welcoming visitors to Oregon. Mission Leadership Staff Funding Main Partners. Oregon Travel Information Council. Who Are We The Travel Information Council.

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The oregon travel plaza project l.jpg

The Oregon Travel Plaza Project

A vision for welcoming visitors to Oregon

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  • Mission

  • Leadership

  • Staff

  • Funding

  • Main Partners

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Who Are WeThe Travel Information Council

  • The Oregon Travel Information Council (TIC) was formed by the State Legislature in 1972

  • Federal Highway Beautification Legislation championed by Lady Bird Johnson.

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Highway Signs

  • Interstate Logo, Off Interstate logos

  • TODS, Museum, Tourist Attraction Signs

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Funding: Makes TIC unique.

  • Only state motorist information program in the nation that is completely self-sufficient

  • funded entirely through sign fees, grants and donations.Oregon: first state to implement the new program.

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Wayside Displays

  • All-weather kiosk at 14 of the state's busiest rest areas

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Wayside Displays

  • Using backlit displays,

  • phone-based reservation service

  • brochure distribution centers

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State Welcome Centers

  • 9 Welcome Centers at borders around the state.

  • State Wide Brochure Program

  • Contracted from Tourism Department

  • Public/Private Partnership

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Historical Markers and Heritage Trees

  • 32 Heritage Trees

  • 100 Historical Markers

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10 days 1,200,000 Visits

Christmas holiday 2003

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The Travel Information Council

  • 8,000 signs, 100 Historical Markers, 32 Heritage Trees, 14 Travel Info Centers, 9 State Welcome CentersA self funded agency - no tax dollars!

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The Travel Plaza Project: Background

  • Vision and Leadership

  • Kiosk/Visitor Info Centre/rest stop history

  • Visitor Info Centres vs. Welcome Centers

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  • Collaborative

  • Results-driven

  • Flexible

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  • Phase I

    • Committee Direction

    • Research

    • Council approval

  • Phase II

    • Building the template with pilot partners

    • Developing Business Plan and Budget

    • Council approval

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  • Phase III


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  • Surveys:

    • Visitor organizations

    • Industry businesses

    • Visitors!

  • Best Practices

    • Locations

    • Templates

    • Activities

PS – don’t shoot the messenger!

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(Organizations and Businesses)

What offerings are in state rest areas/kiosk visitor information centers at this time that serve the visitor?

  • Restrooms

  • Map with locator Brochures and panel advertising

  • Dog-walking areas

  • Vending machines, occasional coffee trailer

  • Telephone

  • Accessibility from freeway

  • Ours is pretty “basic”, but most have nice setting

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(Organizations and Businesses)

What offerings are in rest areas at this time that serve you as a business that wants to attract visitors?Note: businesses only were asked this question

  • Brochure advertising opportunities

  • Panel signage opportunities

  • Nothing, not sure, or nothing comes to mind, haven’t noticed any, not much participation

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(Organizations and Businesses)

What offerings are in rest areas at this time that serve you as an organization that wants to attract visitors?Note: visitor organizations only were asked this question

  • N/A, not much

  • Ability to purchase advertising to increase awareness, name recognition, or to distribute brochures

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(Organizations and Businesses)

What offerings or services have you seen in other states’ visitor service centers that you’d like to see in Oregon?

  • More detailed state and local information

  • Using technology to link with possible routes, accommodations, restaurants, and other services

  • More extensive food items, especially good quality, hot coffee

  • Information re: history, commerce, culture, and scenic routes

  • One-stop type centers where all these – plus auto services – are available

  • Opportunity to purchase local or regional travel, souvenir or visitor assistance items

  • Clean, warm, bright, welcoming facilities that entice you to stay

  • Consistent quality of centers around the state

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(Organizations and Businesses)

What 3 services or amenities do you think are most important to visitors?

  • Personal comfort and safety services, such as: rest room, place to stretch/picnic/relax, dog-walking areas, nice setting, security important

  • Snacks, especially good, hot coffee – indoors

  • Visitor information, both local and state, with directions and route suggestions. Most mentioned the importance of friendly professional staff to give advice as well as technology components to provide information.

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(Organizations and Businesses)

VISIONING: Of the possible services Oregon could offer, which stand out as services would encourage visitors to stay longer in your area/our state?


  • Organization responses:

  • Cultural, culinary, historical, scenic byway, adventure/recreational, agricultural, events information as well as the usual foodservice and lodging info

  • Capitalize on what makes us special – emphasis on local info as well as state

  • Should include small businesses (often can’t afford current advertising rates, but are the ones people want to know about) as well as the big players

  • Weather, road reports,

  • route information, packaged itineraries

  • Current info on events, festivals, farmers markets, etc.

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(Organizations and Businesses)

Of the possible services Oregon could offer, which stand out as services that are important and would encourage visitors to stay longer in your area/our state?


  • Business responses:

  • More local information – with specific info on local routes, events, attractions, and of course lodging and restaurants within 100-mile range, scenic by-ways, that entice people into the region and prolong their stays

  • Need to sell and provide the “Oregon experience” that we are marketing. Create a welcoming, friendly environment.

  • Should include tourism niche-market information such as historical, cultural, tribal, geographical (topographical map), etc. – be educational as well as informative

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(Organizations and Businesses)

Of the possible services Oregon could offer, which stand out as services that are important and would encourage visitors to stay longer in your area/our state?

  • Concierge services would be an ultimate goal – for lodging, restaurants, resorts, events.

  • Staff can be both paid (supervisory) and volunteer – but ALL must be trained.

  • Possibilities of combination state/local staff; volunteers could include local organizations, hotel staff, college and high school interns (ProStart program?)

  • Security services necessary


  • Both businesses and organizations agreed on this one :

  • Staffing is not only important, it is critical for visitors’ centers

  • Staff must be professional, sales-oriented, and constantly trained, in customer service, visitor (state and local) information and security issues. If we are going to invest in staff, we must invest in their training and provide incentives& recognition.

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(Organizations and Businesses)

Of the possible services Oregon could offer, which stand out as services that are important and would encourage visitors to stay longer in your area/our state?

  • Oregon trivia game, or small sound-byte info about the state

  • Computer connections to websites of local visitor organizations

  • Cell-phone direct links with Centers and local visitor org’s.

  • Videos of local attractions etc. at centers

  • Tripcheck, On-star or AAA type services

  • Need to make sure we have people there who can explain, assist or fix the technological tools


  • Ideas were similar in both groups:

  • Interactive, touch-screen opportunities including printouts for custom information on routes and services

  • Cameras showing highlights of the state, road conditions, etc.

  • Pictures of Oregon regions on flat screens

  • Wi-Fi and internet connections

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(Organizations and Businesses)

Of the possible services Oregon could offer, which stand out as services that are important and would encourage visitors to stay longer in your area/our state?


  • Responses consistent:

  • Good, hot coffee is essential. Additional options for food service were important.

  • Tasteful, Oregon-based products to showcase/sell would be attractive to visitors, especially if there could be local products integrated with the base products (could be done in another area, emphasizing agricultural products, crafts, etc.)

  • Visitor assistance items – retail or service-oriented, such as umbrellas, sunscreen, and basic automotive services – whether fuel, vehicle repair, or links to these services

  • Ideas that were widely encouraged: sampling of Oregon products, farmers-market type products, cultural or entertainment including performers or costumed staff

  • Info delivery vehicles should be technological, printed, and human

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(Organizations and Businesses)

Of the possible services Oregon could offer, which stand out as services that are important and would encourage visitors to stay longer in your area/our state?


  • Responses consistent:

  • Cleanliness is the most important issue

  • Modern, warm, clean rest rooms a MUST

  • Inside facility important – or at least a center that contains restrooms and visitor services/info during peak hours, and public restrooms when center is closed

  • Dog area with plastic baggies

  • Picnic area important

  • Must be secure, well-lit Must reflect Oregon values: clean, green, welcoming

  • Signage should be unique, new graphics – so that everyone who sees it will know that they can find same basic services including a local flavor

  • Design and structure should reflect Oregon, incorporate regional flavor

  • Accessibility from freeway or highways is critical to traffic flow

  • Setting is important

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(Organizations and Businesses)

We will be considering ways to offset costs of operation. What suggestions do you have for us? note: this was asked of organizations only

  • Costs should be borne by all who benefit – truly a public/private partnership

  • Pay-to-play is fine, so long as there can be opportunities for small business to be represented as well

  • Should look to OTC, ODOT, Economic Development, local governments, as well as advertising revenues

  • Limited product sales should be considered, and various models of operation (see what is working elsewhere)

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(Organizations and Businesses)

Offsetting costs, continued:

  • Technology provides opportunities through links, advertising, etc.

  • Charge for services rendered – to visitor, advertisers, etc. (commission for booking reservations, etc.)

  • Possibility of developer to absorb some of the capital costs

  • Sponsorship

  • Cooperative effort with local retailers or sites that are already built (convenient, of course)

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(Organizations and Businesses)

  • One comment seemed to sum up many that were received:

  • “ I would like to see our state work together with one message for our visitors. We are currently a little dysfunctional with our efforts of trying to accomplish the same things.  I think, with the additional resources, we have new opportunities to accomplish our common goals.”

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  • 2003 Oregon Rest Area Information Center Visitor Survey

  • Minnesota DOT, Des Moines River Safety Rest Area I-90 Westbound 2001 User Survey

  • Minnesota DOT, Blue Earth Safety Rest Area I-90 Westbound 2001 User Survey

  • State of Oregon DOT, Rest Area Survey, Fall 1996

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  • The common BASIC needs identified in all surveys were:

  • Restrooms

  • Travel information (most sited maps as key information source)

  • Vending machines/ eating

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  • OREGON VISITORS in October 2004:

  • Which of the following services would you like to see at Oregon visitor centers?

  • Person available to answer questions 71%

  • Sale of Oregon made products 66%

  • Wireless internet services 60%

  • Local cultural demonstrations 54%

  • Indoor coffee service 49%

  • Samples of Oregon foods 71%

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  • OREGON VISITORS in October 2004:

  • What other services would be of interest?

  • Maps and more travel information

  • Information on scenic routes

  • Agricultural products for sale

  • Auto services (air, water)

  • Souvenirs

  • Doggie bags

  • Umbrellas

  • Good coffee

  • Interactive travel info/ web access

  • More pictures

  • Oregon feeling

  • Restaurant

  • More security

  • Full service centers

  • Massage (remember this item!)

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Guidelines for Development

1. Nothing we are presenting is carved in stone; we are bringing a vision to the industry and allowing them to help us carve the final product.

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Guidelines for Development

2. We are not redesigning the state Welcome Centers. We do not own them, but we contract to manage them.

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Guidelines for Development

3. To keep confusion down, we refer to our rest area programs as “Travel Plazas”, which is how they are referenced in statute.

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Guidelines for Development

4. We are hoping to pass Oregon legislation that will allow us more flexibility of product showcasing in federally funded rest areas. TIC is working with ODOT on statutory changes that will accomplish this, with a subsequent pilot program with the federal government.

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Guidelines for Development

These locations are identified based on established program plans, location viability, probable partnerships with tribal councils or private businesses, all resulting in immediate opportunity at less cost. These locations are only immediate plans, they do not represent the long term opportunities statewide.

5. We have tentatively identified seven locations statewide that will house a regional visitor center in partnership with local visitor associations.

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Guidelines for Development

6. Four of the seven locations will be private partnerships opportunities, either with private businesses or tribal councils

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Guidelines for Development

7. Technological advances will be a key part of the design of all new and existing structures

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Guidelines for Development

8. We will retain the current Travel Info Centre program, and are in the process of identifying those structures that are still serving the industry. We are also planning to upgrade the public space offerings in those Centres to be retained immediately. These structures are a viable part of the Travel Plaza program, and we will continue display sales and brochure distribution.

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Guidelines for Development

9. We are currently working on redesign of the Travel Info Centres to modernize and make them more attractive to the visitor. We are also working on a design and budget for the regional visitor centers.

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Guidelines for Development

10. All of the industry input, the research and design, and the final program recommendations will be taken to the Travel Information Council as part of the 2005-7 biennial budget.

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Pilot Sites/Prime Partners


    • Eugene/Springfield (CVALCO)

    • Wilsonville (Mt. Hood Territory)


    • North Coast (OCVA)

    • Bend (COVA)

    • So. Oregon - 7 Feathers existing partnership (Roseburg CVB)

    • North Willamette Valley - Woodburn Company Stores (Woodburn Chamber, Salem CVB, Keizer Chamber)

    • Potential: Portland Airport (existing facilities and staff):

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(With apologies to Marshall McLuhan….)

The Medium is (part of) the Message

You are the other – and most important - part!

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Next Steps, Discussion

  • Questions?

  • Ideas?

  • Strategic partnerships?

  • Your call!