Heads in beds.
That’s the goal for Christina Rehklau, the new executive director of Visit Corvallis, the tourism agency which serves Corvallis and Benton County.
Overnight stays produce the room tax revenue that provides the bulk of the funding for Visit Corvallis, with area businesses such as restaurants, breweries, distilleries and arts and culture entities also benefiting when visitors come to town.
“That’s the major thing for us,” Rehklau said Wednesday on her third day in the post after relocating from the convention and visitors bureau in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. “We want to boost the amount of conventions, meetings and sporting events to go after to get overnight visitors and reach out to other tourism-related business and those in economic development.”
Rehklau noted the advantages of working in Corvallis, including the new Courtyard by Marriott downtown hotel and the presence of Oregon State University.
“Having a good-sized hotel, especially one with meeting space, is extremely important,” said Rehklau, who will be meeting with OSU’s conference staff as she “looks forward to partnering and supporting them in all the great work that they do.”
Rehklau has a strong background in marketing research and statistics and said “even on day three I am already digging around on our website and looking at social media analytics. You never can have enough data.”
Key numbers that Rehklau will be trying to meet in the 2018-19 fiscal year are a $5.3 percent increase in the room tax, from $1.78 million to $1.86 million and a 6.4 percent rise in occupied room nights, from 166,000 in 2017-18 to 177,000.
Rehklau replaces Mary Pat Parker, who served in the role from 2012 until her resignation in February. A search committee reviewed 32 applications in a nationwide recruitment before selecting Rehklau.
“Christina knows the tourism business,” said Curtis Wright, a member of the search committee who served as volunteer interim executive director after Parker’s departure. “She has successfully grown both leisure travel and conferences and meetings travel elsewhere. Being brand new to Oregon, she brings fresh eyes and an open mind to getting the job done for Corvallis.”
Marti Staprans Barlow, board president of Visit Corvallis, praised Rehklau’s data expertise.
“Her statistician background will allow her to see what our website visitors are really interested in when they seek to visit Corvallis and focus our campaigns on those interests," Barlow said.