Spokane became an incorporated City on Nov. 29, 1881,
encompassing 1.56 square miles.

PHASE ONE

1985 - 1999

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1974

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World Fair Opens

The 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane focused a great deal of attention on this region as a tourism destination.

 

The 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane focused a great deal of attention on this region as a tourism destination.

1976

Original Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau

In 1976 the original Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau was incorporated to continue marketing the region to visitors.  That corporation functioned under the wings of the Chamber of Commerce for several years.

1985

Spokane Regional Marketing

In 1985 the company was re-organized and incorporated under the new name “Spokane Regional Marketing” as a stand-alone corporation. Hartly Kruger, past leader of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, was recruited to manage the company with more emphasis on bringing conventions and meetings into the area.  The City of Spokane passed an ordinance committing 50% of the Lodging Taxes collected within the City to the CVB to fund tourism marketing efforts.  The CVB also contracted with Spokane County and the State of Washington to provide sales and marketing services to increase tourism in the area for a total annual budget of approximately $500,000. 

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1987

Momentum 87

In 1987 a progressive group of Spokane business leaders formed an economic development group called “Momentum 87” and solicited pledges from businesses to provide funding for organizations that would specifically contribute to the economic growth in the region.  The CVB had several economic development projects funded by this group, including providing staff and convention sales efforts to fill the new convention space added to the site of Expo ’74. The Momentum funding brought the CVB budget to approximately $800,000. That expanded convention space, called the Ag Trade Center, opened in 1989 and moved Spokane into the regional and state convention business, opening the door for larger meetings in the future.  Studies were soon underway to determine the feasibility of expanding the Convention Center further. 

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1989

Spokane Public Facilities District Formed

In 1989 the Spokane Public Facilities District was formed and plans moved forward to replace the antiquated Coliseum with a new 12,000 seat multi-purpose arena. 

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1995

Visitor Information Center

Seeing the need for a more visible facility, the entire Spokane Community stepped up in 

and donated goods, services and money to help build a dedicated Visitor Information Center on city-owned land at 201 W Main.  This center serviced approximately 23,000 visitor inquiries each year and was manned by two paid employees and a corp of well-informed volunteers. The Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena opened in 1995 as a sports, entertainment, and event venue.  

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1998

xxxx

Located at Spokane Regional Center (801 W Riverside)

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PHASE THREE

2010 - 2019

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2015

Convention Center Expansions

Cheryl Kilday does a re-org to include more Sales Managers

New Headquarter Hotel opened – the Davenport Grand Hotel with 715 rooms. 

 

Stakeholder sessions ahead of the strategic plan.

PHASE TWO

2000 - 2009

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2011

Randall Report done

Cheryl Kilday start date 2011

2000

xxxx

The CVB was under the leadership of John Brewer when the idea of a Tourism Promotion Assessment was born. Hotel owners and managers throughout the region helped develop the  state legislation that was necessary to enact the addition of a small fee paid on the sale of each room night.  These funds, collected by the State Department of Revenue and returned to the municipality, are by nature of the legislation specifically dedicated to tourism marketing that increases room nights used in the area.

The marketing programs and operations are funded through regional TPA dollars from Spokane County and the City of Liberty Lake. Lodging tax funds also support programming and operations allocated by the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, and Liberty Lake. 

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2001

9/11 Impacts Hospitality

2002

xxxx

With the success of the Ag Trade Center, in 2002 Spokane voters approved a bond issue to further expand the Convention Center, improve the County Fair & Expo Center, and create Center Place at Mirabeau Park in Spokane Valley.  There were other events that impacted the regional tourism marketing efforts at that same time.  

 

The Momentum group sunset, and those funds were no longer available to the CVB.  The cities of Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake incorporated, moving Lodging Taxes collected in those cities out of the County pool that had funded the CVB in the past. New contracts with each municipality were forged bringing the CVB budget to $1.2 million, but with expanded facilities on the horizon it was apparent that additional marketing funds would be needed. 

2003

TPA revenue source created

2005

John Brewer

Brewer steps down as president of regional CVB Thu., Dec. 16, 2004 

 

John Brewer has resigned as president of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau to take a job in his home state of Montana.

 

“The decision was a very tough one for us, because we immediately fell in love with Spokane when we moved there four years ago,” Brewer said Wednesday.

 

However, “we have a very strong family network here,” he said during a phone call from Billings, Mont., where he will become the president and chief executive officer of the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce.

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2006

2008

Convention Center expansion 2006.

The sales team was so excited, but “oh shit,” now we have to fill it.

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The Big Crash harms the hospitality industry

2010

Expanded Representation

Karen Staples, the first DC Representative for Visit Spokane.

Hartford Madison Spokane/Tri-Cities partnership

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2012

Visit Spokane

Name of the organization was changed from the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Association to Visit Spokane. 

 

An organizational brand study was used to determine how best to position the “CVB” as a leader in the regional economic development initiatives while also connecting with customers.  

 

Research conducted nationally by Destination Marketing Association International demonstrated that visitors do not associate CVB with any meaningful connection to what destination marketing organizations do. After considerable review, input, and organizational brand development the name was changed by a vote of the board of directors and a year-long phased approach was implemented with the legal name change occurring in 2013. 

Maureen Dodroe start date 2012

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2014

The Three Pillars

 Implementation of strategic funds guidelines and booking guidelines. 

2016

Cheryl Kilday resigns

Relocated to Wells Fargo Building

 

Cheryl Kilday, president and CEO of Visit Spokane (Washington), has announced her resignation after leading the organization for eight years.

 

Kate Hudson start date 2016

2017

Turning Point  - New Brand!

2018

Enters Period of Revolution

Partnership with the park for VIC at RFP for free rent in exchange for customer service + phones

 

Jamie Rand start date 2018

Ruth Fitzgerald start date 2018

Lisa Simpson start date 2018

2019

xxx

CFObyDesign and 2Synergize did full organizational audit.

The biggest booking and consumption years for the convention market in Spokane history. Fairchild AFB was one of the largest contributors, booking 42,000 room nights. 

 

Changed vacation and sick time to PTO

Meg Winchester start date 2019

Mackenzie DeGon start date 2019

BACK TO PHASE TWO

2020 - CURRENT

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2020

COVID 19

COVID Reduction: 

Laid off 19 team members

Converted website  to iDSS

Successfully got state legislature  to increase TPA  from $2 to $5

 

Team bonuses ended 2020

Relocated to Convention Center board room (Due to Covid) 

2021

Community Based Membership Model

Tourism Promotion Area - $4 per night assessment to City of Spokane and unicorporated Spokane County; $2 per night assessment Liberty Lake; City of Spokane is currently at $4 per night assessment but has withdrawn from the interlocal agreement effective January 1, 2023. 

 

Lodging Tax – City of Spokane – we receive 55% of the 2% lodging tax collected. 

 

Partnership $ - Hotels pay a per room rate; 120+ rooms $15 per room; Under 120 rooms $10 per room; Service / Catering / Venue partners flat $365 per year.  

Leadership only individual bonuses effective 2021 

July, State of WA Tourism get reinstated

Currently 19 FT and 2 PT team members

 

Visit Spokane changed from a membership model to a community-based membership model. 

 

December, began collaborative marketing with PFD

2022

Relocate

Spokane Valley votes to leave TPA

Relocated to 801 W Riverside sub lease with GSI