While the timing may seem questionable, it is being approached as a time of opportunity for newly appointed Oakdale Tourism and Visitors Bureau (OTVB) President and Business Manager, Amy Craig.
Appointed to the position in early fall of this year, Craig reports directly to the OTVB Board of Directors and is the face of the Visitors Bureau. In the role, she is managing OTVB business, providing an outreach to the community, and as the sole employee, responds to the board and what their goals are. She is also the person visitors see when stopping in at the 7450 River Road, Suite 6, Oakdale location.
“Basically just managing and overseeing what OTVB does going forward,” she said of her role.
As a native of Oakdale with a background in marketing and communications, Craig shared an excitement in joining forces with the OTVB as its sole staff member. A long time interest in becoming more involved with the community turned in to an employment opportunity when she happened by a job listing in the newspaper.
“It was on a whim, kind of,” she admitted of applying, “but it eventually worked out and I am so thrilled to be here.”
According to Craig, OTVB is a non-profit which receives funding from a portion of the Transient Occupancy Tax, TOT, earned through local hotel stays.
Prior to joining forces with the Tourism and Visitors Bureau she worked with a digital strategy company working on Social Media and on-line marketing for clients. Those are two vehicles she deems important to the success of any business or organization in current times.
“Social media is the biggest way that we communicate now. Our social media was almost non-existent when I stepped into this position. It is my goal to continue to grow it.”
Yet all the social media and marketing knowledge in the world can’t change the current challenge of COVID and accompanying decline in tourism. Yet, that doesn’t appear to be a deterrent for Craig.
“Even though tourism isn’t booming and we’re not planning our next event, there’s a lot of things you can work on internally,” Craig explained. “You can work on your social media strategy; you can work on your marketing and developing your website.”
Craig likens the current “down” time as a “spring cleaning” of sorts for the organization in order to be in the best position for the next event.
“The biggest challenge has been sorting through everything, the history and where we lie in the eyes of the community,” she said of her transition. “Everybody here is passionate about Oakdale. So I’m trying to navigate who I talk to, where to talk to them and how to get things done.
“I love working with people and connecting with people,” Craig continued. “I’ve loved this city, I’ve wanted to be involved with promoting the city and what it has to offer to others and so when this job came up I thought this could be a really great opportunity.”
Relationships with the city, the community as well as the tourism community, are a focus for Craig. The OTVB president noted she also felt it important to partner and build relationships with local businesses and downtown boutiques as well.
“I love meeting people. I’m a people person,” she said. “I love getting to know others and I think meeting people and learning what their needs are and how I can help them. I also have a deep desire to help others.”
As the Oakdale native works at building those relationships, she noted it’s equally important to maintain open communication with the OTVB Board and maintain focus on their mission of bringing people, as well as money to Oakdale.
“That is our mission to get those families, those travelers, those people to pause for a second and invest in everything Oakdale has to offer,” Craig said.
The mission will also include getting those visitors to say, if even for just a short time, trying to capitalize on the number that pass though Oakdale en route to Yosemite.
Yet the timing of a pandemic can pose its fair share of challenges for someone in her role. Craig noted the biggest challenge is to know when, and how and what you’re going to do once able to re-open things up.
She shared she feels the community wants to come into 2021 with a bang and connect, stating the tourism industry believes that there will be a huge hike in tourism once the vaccine is out and restrictions are lifted.
“l feel the community has almost everything a traveler/individual could need for fun and entertainment,” she said.
Until then, visitors passing through can find her at the Visitor Center or learn more on the website: visitoakdale.com.