Port steers into media blitz

The Port of Cascade Locks has launched a new advertising campaign to fill the decks of its paddlewheel — a move that is intended to benefit other businesses as well.

“We are not just marketing the sternwheeler, we are marketing the Gorge,” said Chuck Daughtry, port director.

The new media blitz for the Sternwheeler “Columbia Gorge” includes commercials at five Portland/Vancouver theaters, posting of a billboard at the western entrance to the Gorge and signs atop the Bridge of the Gods and the Bradford Island Dock at Bonneville Lock and Dam. In addition, the port acquired prime kiosk space at Multnomah Falls that is being used to display a large poster and offer brochures to some of the two million tourists each year.

Daughtry said the port’s new advertising philosophy is “simple,” very similar to throwing a rock into a pool of water and starting a ripple effect that fans outward. The first step, he said, is to “saturate” the local marketplace to catch the eye of visitors, who will then ride the boat and share their experience with others.

“The emphasis on marketing and selling the sternwheeler needs to be focused on the Gorge,” said Daughtry, the former director of finance at the Port of Vancouver.

After he was hired in July of 2001, Daughtry immediately undertook a cost and use analysis for keeping the sternwheeler in its homeport. Once he had reviewed all available data, Daughtry agreed with the port commission that the cost of operating and staffing a metro sales office was eating away the ship’s profit margin. So the decision was made to operate the vessel from Cascade Locks 11 months out of the year and only take it to Portland during the Christmas season. However, Daughtry also envisions even that short holiday stay being eliminated if the port can convince the Cascade Locks community to participate in a special lighting display that will allow visitors to enjoy the winter splendor of the Gorge.

Once the Portland office was closed and operations were moved to Cascade Locks last August, Daughtry said Roeder was hired to utilize her 10 years of hospitality expertise, most recently with the Skamania Lodge destination resort. She immediately helped redesign the sternwheeler brochures to replace the inside view of downtown Portland with text and photos centered on Gorge landmarks.

The port commission also then authorized more than $8,000 in employee training that focused exclusively on customer service. A local wine expert has also given instruction on presentation and sales techniques.

Once things began to settle down on the homefront, Daughtry and Roeder teamed up to visit business owners in Cascade Locks, Hood River and, on the Washington shoreline, in Stevenson and Bingen/White Salmon. Their request has been simple; put up one of colorful sternwheeler posters and take a free ride on the ship so that employees can answer visitor questions.

In return, the port has agreed to post information about available Gorge services on the kiosk in the Cascade Locks visitor’s center — and to buy as many local products for the dinner cruises as possible. Already, the new wine list highlights Mid-Columbia vineyards and the bar serves two local microbrews. The band “Djangoes Cadillac” from The Dalles has been hired to perform during dinner dance cruises.

Daughtry said the sternwheeler chefs are now working to develop a specialty dessert using Hood River pears as part of their buffet menu.

“The purpose of the port is to provide economic benefits for local communities,” said Daughtry. “We believe that by operating primarily in the Gorge the sternwheeler can be more profitable, more efficient and that we can have a better, more consistent experience for our passengers.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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