City hires market team for airport |

City hires market team for airport

Lisa Marsh

A Texas-based aviation consulting and transportation marketing firm has been given a $81,500 contract by the city of South Lake Tahoe to begin aggressively marketing the Lake Tahoe Airport and soliciting for a commercial carrier.

“We’ve asked (Vesta Rea & Associates) to jam work that would take a year into six months,” said Janis Brand, acting airport manager. “It’s going to be a heck of a lot of work, but well worth it.”

The firm’s strategy includes raising public awareness about the airport and general aviation, finding out what the community and traveling public wants in destinations, and working with local businesses to solicit an air carrier.

Businesses will be asked to help create an incentive package for the flying public, with written commitments for reduced rates, discounts on ski lift tickets and room blocks. Vesta Rea and Associates, in return, will take the information and incentives to carriers to see who will come to Tahoe.

“This will be a package, a complete song and dance, worthy of an academy award … to take on the road,” said Kerry Miller, city manager.

Phases I and II of the contract will be paid for from the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority’s $7,898 rebate to the city from the 96-97 Transient Occupancy Tax reconciliation. Miller will then bring the contract to the LTVA board meeting on Jan. 22 for approval of the funding in the total amount. The balance includes a $10,000 “signing bonus,” with a final goal to sign and keep a commercial carrier for the airport.

“We know we have a good product and a viable community, we just need to get in the door,” Brand added.

According to Brand, South Lake Tahoe is not the only city to experience hardships with their airport after losing commercial service. The dilemma has become so common that at least 20 different firms were approached for this contract. Commercial airlines have become used to dealing with marketing firms rather than individual airports. Vesta Rae has worked with such cities as Tampa, Fla., Albuquerque, N.M. and Las Vegas.

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