Episode 212:

Eric Patrick is a lifelong marketing professional earning a degree in Advertising from Washington State University. He spent the first 10 years of his career working for small advertising agencies in Portland, OR and central Washington State. Through that experience, he started marketing fruits and vegetables extensively around 2000, working for one of the largest shippers of apples/pears/cherries in the U.S. He traveled extensively during his fresh produce career and started marketing for other companies such as Tajin Seasonings. About 5 years ago he was asked to pitch a tourism account with a friend – Union Gap, WA Tourism, a small DMO in central Washington State and a small town in Yakima County. Eric also teaches an Intro to Advertising Class at Yakima Valley College.

Destination on the Left is joined by Eric Patrick, the Marketing and Tourism Director for Union Gap, Washington. During our conversation, Eric discusses the different ways he is creatively generating awareness for Union Gap. He also explains how Asparafest—an asparagus-themed restaurant weekend—was dawned after one of Union Gap’s local restaurants was presented with the James Beard Award. Eric has been able to build a global network for his Twitter Chat called, #SmallTownTourismChat, and on our podcast, he shares insights about what small towns are doing to drive traffic as the travel industry returns.

What You Will Learn:

  • The different ways Eric is creatively promoting tourism in Union Gap, WA
  • How Eric has generated awareness for Union Gap during the pandemic
  • How Eric leveraged the James Beard Award won by a local restaurant to drive awareness
  • The roles of creativity and collaboration in driving tourism for Union Gap
  • Eric’s journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • What opportunities lie ahead for small-town destinations in 2021

Union Gap, WA

Destination on the Left is joined by Eric Patrick, the Marketing and Tourism Director for Union Gap, Washington. During our conversation, Eric discusses the different ways he is creatively generating awareness for Union Gap. He also explains how Asparafest—an asparagus-themed restaurant weekend—was dawned after one of Union Gap’s local restaurants was presented with the James Beard Award. Eric has been able to build a global network for his Twitter Chat called, #SmallTownTourismChat, and on our podcast, he shares insights about what small towns are doing to drive traffic as the travel industry returns.

Putting Union Gap on the Map

When most people think of Washington state, they think of destinations like Seattle and Spokane. Union Gap is not so familiar, but it has a flavor all its own. Located on the east side of the state, Union Gap is nestled in the agricultural belt of Washington which gets over 300 days of sun per year. It is only a half-hour from the mountains, with Mt. Rainier in plain view. Despite its small size, Union Gap offers an unparalleled charm that appeals to outdoor enthusiasts and wine/craft beer connoisseurs alike. Eric has been able to leverage all of these traits to put Union Gap on the map, and he is helping tons of other small-town destinations do the same.

Finding Opportunity in 2021

2020 has obviously been a challenging year for everyone in every destination, but looking forward, Eric plans to continue what he started. Union Gap was on the precipice of widespread recognition before the pandemic. They have tons of unique events, from the world’s largest sprint car show to the annual Pioneer Power show hosted every summer. Eric’s focus as the Marketing and Tourism Director has been to bring these events to the forefront and use them to define Union Gap. He has continued to do that virtually during the pandemic, and as things reopen, the physical events will re-emerge as well. 2021 has so much opportunity, and Union Gap will be positioning themselves as an essential stop in the year of the road trip, with tons of outdoor activities to keep you busy. There is opportunity for every small town destination out there, so join the conversation in Eric’s #SmallTownTourismChat on Twitter.

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