Oregon tourist campaign targets Scottsdale

"A variety of trinkets representing products and activities in the Mt. Hood, Oregon, area, will be available in a specially designed vending maching at Scottsdale Fashion Square this week."

In case you need incentives beyond cool weather and majestic views to fly or drive to Mt. Hood Territory in northwestern Oregon, tourism officials there have a suggestion: Head over to Scottsdale Fashion Square June 24-30.

Between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. June 24-28, there will be a vending machine where visitors can pick up a free sample of a local product from the end of the 2,170-mile Oregon Trail, the wagon route that connected the Missouri River to the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Then, from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. June 29 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. June 30, tourism officials will be on hand for a pop-up event with the vending machine as well as a chance to see Mt. Hood and its surroundings through virtual reality goggles, enjoy a free snow cone and maybe win a grand prize trip to the area.

The two-night trip for two includes $500 in travel vouchers, a two-night stay at the Best Western Rivershore Hotel in Oregon City, a $120 gift certificate to Mt. Hood Outfitters for a tour or gear rental, a visit to an alpaca ranch, an even a gift certificate to Bob’s Red Mill and Wholegrain Store.

Guests can go to omht.us/win at any time to get a unique 6-digit code they can use at the vending machine to receive a random boxed item that relates to Mt. Hood Territory.

A total of 18 different items are packed in the vending machine — things like a stuffed alpaca to get you interested in seeing the animals for themselves at the Marquan Hill Ranch; a dry sack to store your valuables while you rent a kayak or paddleboard to reach the base of Willamette Falls, second only to Niagara Falls in water volume; a Bigfoot air freshener since the territory has the fourth most sightings of the legendary creature in the country; and other gifts.

And on each of the two pop-up days, the vending machine will contain a box with the free trip.

As for the other pop-event offerings, the free snow cones will come in flavors huckleberry, blackberry and lavender because huckleberries are found on the slopes of Mt. Hood, blackberries are available at u-pick farms nearby and the region is home to multiple lavender farms.

Along with tourist representatives to answer questions, the pop-up events also will allow guests to use virtual reality goggles that will whisk their minds to whitewater rafting on the Clackamas River and riding the Alpine Slide at the Adventure Park at Mt. Hood Skibowl.

Arizona is a guinea pig for this new approach to vacation advertising, said Casey Krupnik, spokesman for the Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs Bureau, which is also holding the pop-up event this weekend at Arrowhead Town Center in Glendale.

“This is the first time that we are doing a pop-up like this,” Krupnik said. “We have done other awareness campaigns but nothing like this. Until now our efforts in the Phoenix area have only been on the traditional marketing side: cinema videos, airport ads, office elevator screens and digital ads.”

He said he and his tourism bureau colleagues decided their campaign needed “a fun and exciting way to raise awareness about” the area.

“We thought, what better way to help visitors experience our area than by bringing part of Mt. Hood Territory to them,” he said. “When the idea for the vending machine came up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We worked with local businesses to find products that helped tell our story and highlight the experiences visitors can expect to find throughout Mt. Hood Territory, in a fun and unique way of claiming the prizes.”

The snow cones were thrown in as “a bonus treat for visiting” while the virtual reality goggles are meant to provide “even more inspiration of possible trip ideas,” Krupnik said.

Krupnik said the whole campaign is unique. “We are unaware of anyone else who has done a pop-up like this,” he said, adding that the custom vending machines have been done before by businesses.

Though he and his colleagues wouldn’t mind seeing Arizonans before fall, the campaign is really targeted to luring out-of-staters to Mt. Hood after Labor Day.

“We know that it does take time to plan a vacation and wanted to do the pop-up during the summer when people were starting to think about places they could travel. Portland International Airport is a quick and easy flight from Phoenix,” he said.

“We also know that our fall up here is a little bit different than the fall in the Southwest that Arizonans are used to and believe that they will really enjoy the variance of what Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory can offer. The weather is beautiful, the trees are changing colors, the summer crowds have left and it truly is an amazing time to visit.”

As for why Glendale and Scottsdale were selected, Krupnik said “a lot of research and data” pointed to the city.

“We wanted to find places that were inside so people would be gathering away from the heat, areas of large populations, easily accessible and highly trafficked,” he said. “We also wanted to select places with enough distance from each other that it would make it easy for people from different areas to check out one of the pop-up events. These two locations rose to the top.”