Message from Your President
To allow more accessibility to our fall meeting for individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, the OTTA board has decided to go virtual with our November 2 meeting. While we know some of you were eager to meet (safely) in person, we felt this new format would provide an opportunity for the greatest participation from our membership and allow us to give adequate notice to our hotel partner, Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites.
The new virtual meeting will be held on the same day, but slightly more condensed: Monday, November 2 from 10:30 am - 2:30 pm. The meeting will include an abbreviated virtual FAM tour of Ashland, updates from our committee chairs and a panel of speakers to lead a discussion on The New Normal - Doing Business Virtually. The cost to attend is $25 for members and $35 for non-members. Additional details are forthcoming.
Additionally, in September, we have decided to swap our late afternoon Oregon craft beverages for a morning buzz on Thursday, September 17 at 9:00 am. Please find details and register online for this complimentary event on our events page.
Willamette Valley Vineyards
OTTA September Morning Buzz
Thursday, September 17, 2020
9:00 - 10:00 am
Please join us for the OTTA Virtual Morning Buzz on September 17 at 9:00 am. Please bring tea, coffee or other morning drink of choice. Just like any semi-casual gathering - you are welcome to drop in or leave as needed. Want to have fun with it? We encourage you to use a photo of your property or favorite Oregon destination as your Zoom Virtual background.
See you then with a cup in hand!
Update Your Profile
Please take the opportunity to review your profile on the OTTA website and update it. Some of us are guilty of not taking the time to do our updates. Having an updated profile will help you get the most benefit of your membership to OTTA and will give tour operators planning to visit Oregon in 2021 the most update to date contact information - feedback we've received directly from tour operators.
Member profiles page.
OTTA is seeking nominations for our Board of Directors. COVID continues to affect us in ways we did not expect. If you like to work with great people who are passionate about packaged travel, especially during this pandemic, we would love to have you join our Board. Or, if you know of someone who is interested in being on the board ... send us your nominations. Please send your nomination to Governance Committee Chair, Dennis Corwin, email@example.com.
Great Time to Join OTTA
Oregon Tour and Travel Alliance knows that all our members have been greatly impacted by COVID-19. Many of us have lost our jobs or on furlough. We know that many of us are still committed to bringing packaged travel to our beautiful state and want to stay connected. The OTTA business membership belongs to the company and not to the individual. We value our members and want to make sure that we stay connected with you. We have created a new individual membership category at a very low cost for those who currently are unemployed or unaffiliated with a business/service. This membership category is called Tourism supporter and the annual cost is $25.00. If you want to stay connected and are unable to pay, scholarships are available. Membership Scholarship application.
In addition to the scholarships available for unemployed individuals we have created scholarships for members who are still working, but their company or DMO is unable to pay their dues. This scholarship, once approved by the OTTA board, will take the form of a complimentary membership and we will ask you to serve on a committee. Members on a scholarship will not receive any online profile or leads. Please give us 30 days to review your scholarship application. If you have any questions about membership please feel free to contact Membership Chair, Kris Hillard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member Profile: Dennis Corwin
Dennis is a native Oregonian, born and raised on a farm in Colton. He has been with the Portland Spirit since the very beginning. In fact, he was hired as a singing server one week prior to the ship arriving in Portland. Dennis' first job was to help paint and outfit the ship for the first cruise. Now 26 years later, they have five ships, three locations, and one onshore restaurant and he is General Manager and part owner.
Many members are aware that Dennis has a passion for theatre, but they may not know that he has been working professionally in Portland theatre for over 30 years, including singing with Portland Opera for five years. Dennis is married to a professional choreographer and has a son equally passionate, so musical theatre is a big part of their household. The Corwins even recently added a dance studio onto their house!
Portland Spirit has been involved with OTTA for more than 20 years, but he joined the board in 2011.
The two people who were instrumental in getting him involved in OTTA were Carol Ross and Jennifer Morkert. Dennis cannot speak highly enough of these two amazing individuals. His first few trade shows would not have been as successful without their guidance and support.
OTTA has been a great organization for networking and forming partnerships. With the support of his OTTA partners, he is able to sell Oregon and his specific product better. Dennis also knows that he has an immediate resource for any questions may have about the tourism industry opportunities and trends in Oregon.
Dennis has loved exploring this state. His favorite moments are the fam tours during the quarterly meetings. No matter how many times he may have been to a specific location within Oregon, he has always learned or experienced something new on these fams.
We are certainly in unprecedented times. Over these past six months his emotions have run the gamut but here is where he is at this moment.
Dennis is worried about the health and well being of his family, friends and colleagues. He is scared at the thought of losing a job and company he has spent the past 26 years building. Dennis is saddened at the layoffs and furloughs that have happened to his friends and colleagues. He is angry at our current political climate and the division of our country. He is confused and hurt by the hate, misinformation, and discrimination posted in the news and on social media by friends on both sides of the aisle. Dennis is anxious about holding it all together and being strong for those that count on him to help them through this. Those are many of the thoughts that keep Dennis awake at night.
However, when he stops and takes a breath, a whole other layer of emotions reveal themselves. Dennis is full of love and appreciation for his family and friends. These past few months have given him the opportunity to create new traditions and lasting family memories with his wife and boys. They have had deep conversations and laughed harder than he can remember in a long time. Dennis has reconnected with friends he has not spoken to in years and found new ways to stay in touch.
Dennis feels blessed to work for a company that puts people first. Many say that their workplace is like family but his is family. They have been through marriages, divorces, births and deaths and we will make it through this.
Finally, he is optimistic that we can make this world, country, and state a better place. This might seem like a tall order but the one thing he has learned from his years in tourism is that this industry unites people. We are at our best when we come together and break down the barriers. He is hopeful we will be able to do that again very soon.
Let's put our thinking caps on and think of ways to help our fellow tour operators develop new tours while faced with social distancing and capacity limits. Ideally, group sizes are going to be 15-20 to make it profitable for our friends. Many parts of our state are great options for small groups and social distancing. For example: Milton-Freewater is a small town and would be ideal for the smaller groups. With product already created in our Agritour Farm Loops we are in a great position from Walla Walla to Pendleton and beyond. A tour operator could book travel at the Holiday Inn Express in Walla Walla through Jennifer Morkert and travel through the Whisky Rocks Farm Loop. Overnight in Pendleton and explore Pendleton Round Up country and then head eastward to LaGrande to Joseph. Overnight Joseph and head out on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to Baker City. Milton-Freewater would be too small to do the tours of 30-40 but with some staggering we could accommodate wine tasting with ten at a time. Caterers can provide lunches at Watermill and Blue Mountain, off the beaten path to Dragon's Gate or outdoors at Frazier Farmstead. The tour could be set up at Frazier with half going inside and the other half outside. Our smaller hotels, bed and breakfasts, lodges couldn't accommodate large groups but could easily do the small groups and we could give love to our local hotels by maybe splitting up ten at one location and ten at another locations. Motels are seeing a comeback as visitors don't have to stand in a crowded lobby or share the halls with other people. Rural Oregon has lots of hotel options, some at the high end but many at the moderate end. Please send your suggestions to Chris Chester at email@example.com
OR call 503-551-6440. Tour operators can contact Chris Chester and let her know what they are looking for and where so we can customize itineraries for you by working with our local DMOs.
Travel Oregon Small Grants Postponed
In light of the continuing economic impact and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Travel Oregon is reviewing its Competitive Grants Program to determine how these funds can best support Oregon's travel and tourism businesses and organizations in their recovery. Therefore, the Competitive Small Grants Program, scheduled to open in August 2020, has been postponed. Travel Oregon announces all of its grant opportunities through this email list and will post further program details, when available, on industry.traveloregon.com/grants.
Opportunities for Eastern Oregon Members
GEODC Small Business Relief Funding
Business Oregon Program Targets Operations Missed in Cares Act
The Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation (GEODC) has been awarded $370,000 from Business Oregon to support small businesses in its seven-county region.
Business Oregon approved $5 million statewide in the second round of grants through the Emergency Business Assistance Grant Fund to help businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 but have not received federal CARES Act funding.
The program is for businesses with fewer than 25 employees and encourages providing access to sole proprietors and historically disadvantaged business owners. How much can a small business or 501C3 non-profit receive?
1-5 employees $2,500
6-10 employees $10,000
11-15 employees $7,500
16-20 employees $10,000
20-25 employees $12,500
Businesses may use the proceeds for any business-related operating expense, including the cost of reopening while abiding by state guidance.
Max County Allocation
Step one: Business owner completes the application and demographic questionnaire. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the link to the application and demographic questionnaire.
Step two: For businesses with 5 or more employees, we will need a copy of Form 132 which is sent to the Oregon Department of employment quarterly. The Q4 2019 or Q1 2020 forms are acceptable. This form denotes the number of FTE for the employer.
Step three: Applicants must provide a Profit and Loss (income statement) for January or February 2020 and one from March or April of 2020 and gross revenues must have decreased 50%. If the business was ordered to close per Governor's Executive Order 20-12, then they do not need to provide this information.
Step four: Once the first three steps are completed, forward the information to Susan Christensen by one of the following ways:
Questions? Call (541) 612-7142
Once the grant is "approved", GEODC will notify Business Oregon and they will verify the applicant has not already received funds from this program.
Step five: The final step in the process is having the grant applicant sign the grant agreement (certification of acceptance) and complete a W-9. Then GEODC will send a check.
Oregon Launches $500 Emergency Relief Program
Oregonians facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now able to apply for a one-time payment of $500!
To be eligible, a person must:
1. Be a current resident of Oregon and 18 years or older.
2. Be able to prove their identity and that they are an in-state resident.
3. Attest that they are experiencing severe financial hardship directly or indirectly due to the Governor's Stay Home, Save Lives executive orders.
4. Have earned $4,000/month or less pre-tax prior to their income loss due to COVID-19.
5. Not have received all unemployment payments they are owed.
How to Apply:
Participating financial institutions are taking applications and making funds available by check, direct deposit, cash or prepaid card. Applicants do not need to have a relationship or account with any of the participating institutions to apply and no institution will require applicants to create an account to access funds.
Some financial institutions will ask applicants to make an appointment online for an in-person meeting. Other financial institutions will have walk-in service. Click HERE to start filling out the application.
There are more than 150 locations in all regions of the state where eligible Oregonians will be able to receive relief checks. Click HERE to find a location near you.