Remember “Say WA,” the Washington state tourism slogan unveiled a few years back? I know, I know… who could forget? Those two jazzy words strung together were going to drive vacationers by the tens of thousands to visit the state. Brilliant, wasn’t it?
Actually, it was a big FAIL.
So, what’s the latest marketing move on the Washington state tourism front?
Tourism is a $12.4 billion dollar industry in Washington state, and the Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development knows it. So I wasn’t surprised to see that the state tourism website, experiencewa.com, got a major facelift recently. And while it still can’t hold a candle to Travel Oregon, with its playful design and usefulness, its not bad. And its probably worth your bookmark.
Several new features highlight the things that make Washington state such a special destination, from outdoor recreation to stunning wine regions. There’s also a section on finding accommodations for your destination, which immediately piqued my interest. Might this be a great way to find more cheap sleeps?
I decided to try it out for planning an upcoming trip to the quaint seaside town of La Conner, Washington. Under “Plan a Trip” I went to “Accommodations” and typed in La Conner. The results were displayed on a clickable map (cool!) for a very large area, giving me possible accommodations from the San Juans down to Whidbey Island. It took me a minute to find La Conner on the map (it wasn’t labeled) and at that point I realized that only two of the accommodations it was giving me were anywhere near La Conner – Katy’s Inn and the La Conner Channel Lodge. Neither are particularly affordable (though Katy’s has a room or two under $100) and I knew from past visits that there were other options in La Conner, like the Hotel Planter or the Queen of the Valley Inn (neither are cheap sleeps). The search also did not allow me to filter for price range, and the results gave no indication of rates (I had to go to the accommodation’s website and look around for that information.) So basically, I would be able to get far more accommodation results on my own simply by googling “La Conner” and “lodging.”
The Experience Wa website also has a not terribly useful Explore Cities feature (where I learned that one of the attractions of Puyallup is the Auburn Post Office) and a Scenic Byways feature, perhaps the most cool and useful part of the site. A searchable events calendar is also a useful tool. Still, the site has no multimedia and does not have a blog. In fact, it doesn’t provide any way for users to interact and become involved with the site, a big oversight in my opinion.