Tell us a little bit about your background in the visitor industry.
I have worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years – 10 years as general manager of Copper Whale Inn. Throughout my years in this business, I have held many titles, including sales and marketing manager at Party Wizard, at Mr. Whitekeys’ Fly by Night Club, general manager of Alta Lodge in Utah, as well as many years in restaurant management.
Specifically, how are Inns supported by the cruise industry?
Directly, we do not do much business with the large cruise lines, but we have many guests who will spend one or more days pre- or post-cruise with us during the summer season, exploring Anchorage, or basing their land travels throughout Southcentral in Anchorage. Many of our guests are on their second or subsequent visit to Alaska, having first cruised, then realizing there was so much more to see.
With Alaska expecting a record-breaking tourism season, have you seen an impact in your business?
During the high season, we are sold out many nights every year. We are so fortunate to be in such a prime location, with all the attractions, activities, dining options and shopping within a 15-minute walking radius of the Copper Whale Inn.
How important is the state’s marketing program to your business?
Very important! The broad outreach comes from the State Division of Tourism, marketing Alaska as a destination nationwide and worldwide. Then potential visitors begin to investigate their specific options for a vacation in the Great Land, and for those who settle on a visit to Anchorage and are looking for our type of accommodations in Anchorage, we are ready and welcoming their inquiries daily.
There have been steep cuts to tourism marketing. Have you seen an effect of this on your business? Have you revised your marketing strategy?
We have not yet begun to see the real effects, which will hit in the near term, 2017 and 2018. With decreased attention in the tourism marketplace, Alaska’s share of travelers will decrease over the next 1-2 years and, if the marketing program is not bolstered to somewhere near the levels before this current fiscal meltdown, market share will only continue to dwindle. Individual companies and particularly small local businesses with limited marketing dollars, like ours, will bear the brunt of the downturn and will have to increase their marketing expenditures and efforts to stay in the game.