City Looking for Ways to Maximize EOTEC’s Rentals, Revenue

Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith, left, and Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center General Manager Al Davis talk with the Hermiston City Council Monday night about strategic plans for the event center. (Photo by Michael Kane

The Hermiston City Council continued its efforts to finalize a strategic plan for the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center (EOTEC) during a work session Monday night.

The city unveiled a draft of the strategic plan for the event center in December. In the past few months, the council has been working with EOTEC General Manager Al Davis to finalize the plan which calls for several areas of improvement as well as steps to better market the center.

On Monday, emphasis was placed on marketing and event scheduling with the aim of maximizing usage and revenue.

Hermiston City Councilor Jackie Myers said the plan is critical, but long overdue.

“Why are we waiting over a year into operations before coming up with a plan?” she asked.

Among challenges facing EOTEC is its remote location and a lack of signage directing motorists to the center.

Mayor Dave Drotzmann suggested using money from the EOTEC marketing fund to pay for signs along Highway 395.

“It’s difficult to know where EOTEC is unless you live in Hermiston,” he said.

City Manager Byron Smith said one potential move could be hiring a marketing specialist, perhaps part time to start.

Another issue facing EOTEC is the overwhelming popularity of Saturdays when it comes to groups scheduling events.

Davis said he has tried offering significant rate cuts for Friday or Sunday bookings, but that hasn’t worked.

“So, one other option is to raise the rental fees for Saturdays,” said Davis. That suggestion received support from the council.

“You’ve only got 52 Saturdays to work with,” said Drotzmann. “Raise the rate so people start looking at other days.”

The council will continue to look at the draft plan with changes expected over time. Another work session on EOTEC is expected to be held next month.