Laying the Foundation for Destination Management in Sisters, Oregon


Sisters is a well-known and highly visited destination, positioned at a funnel point of three Cascade Range highway passes and surrounded by natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor adventures. It has been a popular travel destination for decades, but it achieved this without much coordination between the stakeholders involved in the overall visitor experience. This ad hoc approach left missed opportunities to deliver richer, more complete visitor experiences that would drive longer stays and bigger spends.

There was tremendous untapped potential for community leaders to develop a clear vision for the visitor experience, one that would pave the way for increased tourism success, currently and in the future. The City of Sisters hired Crosscurrent Collective to help them create a vision built on solid data, targeted efforts and increased community engagement.


Crosscurrent designed a comprehensive process to provide the type of information needed to create a destination management plan, as well as a recommended leadership structure for coordinated tourism efforts.

Understanding a community’s current situation is paramount to building a successful roadmap for where to go. Crosscurrent began with a destination scan that included reviewing dozens of existing tourism reports and plans, assessing compiled visitation data, interviewing key stakeholders in the community and region, assembling local focus groups, and subsequently creating a summary presentation to deliver at community workshops. This step allowed Sisters to benchmark their current results, and gauge local sentiments about managing outdoor recreation and management.

An effective tourism strategy should also be informed by a full picture of visitor trends and attitudes. As another element of the process, the Crosscurrent team conducted a visitor opportunities study, using on-the-ground interactions and an online surveying program to gather valuable information from the people already visiting Sisters. The team analyzed more than 1,200 surveys, to find broad patterns as well as nuggets of insight.

Any destination management strategy is only as powerful as the community consensus behind it. So a third element of planning was developing the draft of an in-depth community engagement process; this encompassed a detailed plan description, targeted outcomes, necessary partner commitments and needed investments. Using this draft, Crosscurrent can work with community leaders to undertake a concerted engagement effort going forward.

Collectively, these three facets all contributed directly to what Crosscurrent identified as the key to solidifying Sisters’ vision and making it come to fruition: forming a Destination Leadership Team (DLT), a core of committed local proponents who can identify, refine and execute a strategy. As part of this Phase I work, Crosscurrent worked with the Sisters core project team to identify ideal candidates for the DLT, as well as building an outline for how a DLT would work, and what it could strive to accomplish.


Sisters emerged from this project with multiple foundational elements for a cohesive destination management strategy. They now have a compilation of critical data from a diverse set of tourism reports and plans; firsthand feedback and suggestions from both local stakeholders and a large cross-section of visitors; the structure and direction for an upcoming community engagement process; and a plan for building a local leadership team to manage a collective destination strategy, with prospective team members identified.

The first phase provided so much valuable direction that the City of Sisters elected to reframe the use of its Transiet Lodging Tax to ensure it supports the newly identified priorities for destination management.  In order to ensure the new priorities would be addressed, the City of Sisters supported the formation of a new 501©3 Destination Marketing and Management Organization to lead Sisters’ tourism marketing, development and management initiatives.


  1. Conducted a Visitor Opportunity Study and Destination Scan for baseline data
  2. Provided strategic guidance for how to approach destination management in a rural, outdoor recreation-based community
  3. Designed an in-depth community engagement process
  4. Supported the formation of a new Destination Marketing and Management Organization

Crosscurrent makes the complex simple.

  • 01
    Set Up a Discovery Session
    Contact us to schedule a free 30-minute discovery session.
  • 02
    Create a Road Map
    Together we’ll sketch a road map to get a feel for the investment required.
  • 03
    Get to Work
    Once the road map is clear and the details agreed on, we’ll get right to work!