By Marcy Stamper
The Okanogan County commissioners have asked the organization that markets the county to tourists for more detailed information about how it promotes different regions of the county.
The commissioners also want the Okanogan County Tourism Council (OCTC) to transfer ownership to the county of logos, images and concepts it has created for the advertising campaign.
OCTC already tracks the effectiveness of its advertising and will work on putting the information in the format the commissioners have requested, according to Teri Leep, president of the OCTC board.
But transferring intellectual property rights to logos, images and concepts OCTC developed — such as the “Okanogan Country: Open for Adventure!” tagline — is not acceptable, said Leep.
The proposed changes to the 2016 contract ask OCTC to document the efficacy of different types of advertising — such as print, TV and social media — in attracting tourists, and to show how much money is spent in each market.
The changes also ask OCTC to explain how much funding has been used to promote each of four regions of the county. “Can an explanation of the weight or importance of those expenditures be provided that shows equitable marketing of the whole County?” the commissioners ask.
The contract addendums were prompted by a request from OCTC to change the way its invoices are paid to help pay vendors, said Leep. When the commissioners prepared a draft of the amendments, they included the request for detailed reporting and the section on intellectual property, she said.
Leep said the commissioners appeared to feel that because the majority of OCTC’s budget comes from the county — primarily from a tax collected on lodging — the county should own the rights to the marketing concepts.
The $175,000 contract with OCTC for 2016 already includes obligations to track the effectiveness of their marketing campaign, although the organization has been recording it in a different format, said Leep. The board is working on converting the information to the commissioners’ preferred format by the mid-December deadline.
OCTC provides the commissioners with quarterly updates and an electronic newsletter with updates of their activities throughout the county. The updates will now include copies of ads to show more detail, said Leep.
But the OCTC board decided at their November meeting that they will not sign the addendum unless the section that turns over ownership of intellectual property is eliminated, said Leep.
No decision on next year’s marketing
This fall, the commissioners solicited proposals from organizations for the tourism promotions contract for next year. They heard presentations by OCTC and the Borderlands Historical Society in October.
In a letter accompanying their proposal, the Borderlands society, which operates the visitor information center and railroad museum in Oroville, said that the North County has felt underserved by current marketing efforts and that images used in advertising focused too heavily on the Methow Valley.
After the presentations, the county’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommended the county continue to work with OCTC. The committee agreed to ask OCTC to provide additional information to meet the terms of the solicitation.
OCTC has had the contract to market the county to tourists for the past 27 years.
Albert Lin, chief civil deputy prosecutor for Okanogan County, said there is no prohibition on transferring the intellectual property rights to county ownership. “It’s a matter of whether the parties are willing to agree to that modification,” he said.
At a meeting with the commissioners earlier this month, Leep and the commissioners agreed that the OCTC board would meet again to discuss the contract addendums and report back to the commissioners. Their next scheduled meeting is in December, but they are attempting to get a quorum before then, she said.
The county has not awarded the 2017 tourism-promotions contract yet, said Leep.