Cute Dogs, Gnomes and Other DMO Tricks

I admit it: When I heard about the Doggie Bloggie, I let out an audible “Awww.” The silly-but-adorable blog is part of the Yakima Valley VCB’s campaign to promote dog-friendly activities in the Washington wine region—one of four ideas to land a coveted Best Ideas award at the recent Western Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus conference in Eugene, Ore.

Cute, effective and attention-grabbing, this campaign illustrates the value of thoughtful DMO strategizing.  Especially during a down economy—and at a time when people still don’t fully recognize the immense value of tourism and meetings—clever, passionate destination marketing is imperative to the health of the industry.

Luckily, at this annual conference of DMO leaders in the western region, cleverness and passion were on full display.

In addition to Yakima Valley’s precious campaign, three other bold ideas won awards. Visit Laguna Beach earned accolades for its Travel Info app, which breaks the app mold with its use of a GPS-enabled trolley-tracking service and way-cool augmented reality feature (watch this tutorial and be prepared to be awed). Visit Park City’s entry was the “It’s Snowing” campaign, which promoted the area’s first big snow during the winter season using social media, advertising and user-generated ski videos. And my beloved Monterey won for its quirky and fun Travelocity gnome campaign, which involved the ubiquitous gnome experiencing various parts of the coastal city (favorite part: the gnomance. Ha!)

While these ideas earned plaques, it was obvious that every person at the conference is working equally hard to promote their region. From those marketing large cities like San Francisco and L.A. to DMO employees for smaller locales like Redding, Stockton and Visalia, there was a consistently clear sense of purpose and vision, the result of which is the industry’s awesome win-win effect: create memories and boost the economy.

One thing’s for sure: I now really want to get a dog and bring him to Yakima Valley.

—Nikki Gloudeman

Image: A particularly cute marketing tool, courtesy of