PORT ANGELES — More than 295 million pairs of eyes viewed Port Angeles marketing materials last year, helping the city break another record for lodging tax collections, the City Council heard at its recent meeting.
Vertigo Marketing, the Oregon firm that has promoted Port Angeles as a tourist destination since 2016, delivered glowing year-end statistics at the council meeting Jan. 15.
Vertigo, which runs the website www.visit portangeles.com, reported 295.2 million “marketing impressions” in 2018.
“An impression is basically an opportunity to see,” Vertigo co-founder Trev Naranche said.
“If you put a pair of eyeballs on a magazine ad or a Facebook post or something like that, that’s noted as an impression.”
Meanwhile, the city collected $731,842 in lodging tax revenue last year, breaking the previous record of $705,773 set in 2017.
“Fortunately, in the last three years since we’ve been involved, we have seen year after year after year record growth in the lodging tax collection,” Naranche told the council.
Prior to 2016, the city contracted with the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce for marketing.
Vertigo officials reported web traffic was up 58 percent last year. Visitportangeles.com had 133,856 visits, or sessions, and 296,552 page views, officials said.
“Most importantly, our organic search traffic was up 149 percent,” Vertigo co-founder Lynnette Braillard told the council.
“Organic means non-paid free traffic, and we attain that obviously through a number of ways, but we also work hard on our SEO efforts, which is search engine optimization.
“We also do a lot of stuff within social media,” Braillard added.
Funding for Vertigo’s $257,985 contract comes from the city’s Lodging Tax Fund, a 4 percent tax on overnight stays at hotels, motels and other lodging establishments.
The “heads in beds” tax is taken as a credit against the 6.5 percent state sales tax. It is spent on the following year’s marketing and events that encourage overnight stays.
Naranche displayed slides of magazines, brochures and other publications that carried Port Angeles media placements.
“This is a fun one,” Naranche said while displaying a slide of Seattle Mariners Magazine.
“We’re in the program guides for all the Seattle Mariner games.”
Naranche said Seattle is a “key target” for Port Angeles. Port Angeles marketing materials are carried on state ferries and the MV Coho ferry to Victoria.
Banner ads were placed on the Oregon Public Broadcasting website to attract travelers from the Portland area, Braillard said.
Sunset, a lifestyle magazine that focuses on the West Coast, recently ran a list of things to do in downtown Port Angeles, Naranche said.
“It was really nice to highlight a full day of attractions downtown,” Braillard said.
“We’ve always seen that as a benchmark for us,” she said.
Olympicpeninsula.org is run by the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, the destination marketing organization for Clallam County and the West End. It had 70,937 visits last year, Braillard said.
“Look at all the people, between their traffic coming to their website and the traffic coming to visitportangeles[.com],” Braillard said.
“We have a lot of people looking at our area and coming to visit and planning their vacations.”
According to Google Trends, Port Angeles was a more popular search term than Olympic Peninsula or Olympic National Park last year, Braillard said.
On social media, Vertigo reported 1.9 million impressions and 109,547 “engagements” that measure comments, shares and likes on Facebook and Instagram, Braillard said.
“We’ve definitely seen substantial growth in Instagram,” Braillard said.
“That’s a big channel for us, and our followers overall have increased by 20 percent compared to last year.”
Braillard showed two marketing videos that Vertigo produced last year, both of which highlight recreational opportunities and the natural beauty of the Port Angeles area.
Assistant City Planner Ben Braudrick said marketing in 2019 would include more brochures, a bicycle trail map, advertising on the Clallam Transit Strait Shot bus to Bainbridge Island and a checklist for the “331 Things to Do in Port Angeles” campaign.
“One of the push backs that I’ve gotten from people in the hospitality industry is the 331 Things didn’t seem well developed,” Council member Mike French told the Vertigo officials.
“A lot of times we as the contact people didn’t know what the 331 things were, either, and so that’s a barrier to us communicating to the tourists, who have an expectation. So I’m excited to see that kind of being more fully developed this coming year.”
Council member Cherie Kidd said Vertigo has “made all the difference” for marketing the city.
“We’ve just watched it just grow and expand exponentially,” Kidd said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].