City of Tenino is planning a big push for its tourism industry over the next year, so much so that it has partnered up with Experience Olympia & Beyond to streamline a branding and marketing strategy for the attractions the city has to offer travelers.
John Millard, City of Tenino clerk/treasurer, said the city has built great tourist attractions and continues to invest in them — what with $217,000 in renovations to the quarry pool going out for bid early this year, for example. Now all that needs to happen is for people to come enjoy said attractions.
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That’s where Experience Olympia & Beyond comes in.
“I actually get an emotional reaction when I come here (to Tenino), because the connection amongst the people who live and work here is so strong,” said Shauna Stewart, CEO of Experience Olympia & Beyond. “I think that pours over into working with visitors and customers and providing a really welcoming and friendly environment.”
The most recent promotion for tourism that Experience Olympia & Beyond has implemented is to identify and promote three trails in the county that are exceptional for biking. The Yelm-Tenino Trail was one such pathway.
“We decided to launch the Yelm-Tenino Trail first — the trail, of course, existed but we’re putting additional resources to market and promoting the trail and things to see and do along the way, Stewart said.”
They created a brochure to help inspire people to come use the trail that highlights mid-ride views of Macintosh Lake and Sandy Beach, Tenino Quarry Pool, Tenino Depot Museum, Tenino Farmers Market and Scatter Creek Winery & Brewery, to name a few.
“Tenino really fits in well with our regional branding strategy in terms of positioning Thurston County as a hand-crafted destination, where you can meet the makers,” Stewart said. “It really gives a sense of place and connection to the people.
Experience Olympia & Beyond will be working with travel/lifestyle influencers on social media and travel/lifestyle writers.
Basically, they are targeting people who are getting famous on the internet or have a large following to spread the word-of-mouth about Tenino’s tourist opportunities to the people they influence.
“Our strategy is really to influence the influencers,” Stewart said.
To add on to all of this, City of Tenino is building a bike kiosk at the Tenino City Park adjacent to the Yelm-Tenino Trail access.
Port of Olympia granted the city $10,000 to build the bike kiosk, which will be a covered area where bikers and hikers could rest, have a bottle of water or do maintenance on their gear.
“It’s the equivalent of a highway rest stop, but this is for trail users,” Millard said.
The city, which has already devoted $16,000 of its budget to tourism specifically, will provide whatever funds are needed to make the project happen if or when the $10,000 runs out. This money will come from the city’s capital improvement fund.
In addition, there could be busloads of tourists driving into Tenino in the not-too-distant future, Stewart said.
“One of the other things that I think is going to be unique to 2019, is we will be hosting a Spotlight on the Northwest conference in the county,” she said. “Over 20 tour operators who plan and book tours in the Pacific Northwest will be touring the area, and Tenino is one of the itineraries that they’ll be able to come down and experience first hand.”
So these tour planners could in turn book their own tours in Tenino, Stewart said.
“It’s bringing in busloads of people,” she said. “We believe that Tenino is really well situated for the group-tour business because you can park a bus and just have the whole day to be able explore, from the outdoor recreation to the museum, looking at the quarry pool and popping in and out of the shops along the main street.”
Tour participants would be able to check out bikes for free from Ironworks Boutique, which is located at 224 Sussex Ave. W. The bikes are located outside near 213 Sussex Ave West.
“I think Tenino has become that destination where you can slow down and enjoy a wide variety of handcrafted experiences in a very condensed, accessible community,” Stewart said. “The people here are so friendly and warm. It’s really the people in our communities that make this destination a great place to be so I look forward to connecting the world to the people of Tenino.”