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Compromise marketing plan to be considered

Sally J. Taylor

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Board of Directors will consider on Thursday a compromise marketing plan that could save the organization from a funding battle that threatened to destroy it.

“We’re using all the creative things (developed for Orange County) in Northern California and what destination marketing that we’re going to be able to do,” said LTVA Board President Mike Weber, the managing director of Camp Richardson Resort.

The revised 1997-98 plan was developed Monday by the LTVA Marketing Committee in response to the rejection by the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance of an Orange County advertising campaign. The Douglas County Commissioners on Nov. 20 refused to release funds to the LTVA until the two organizations and the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority could come to an agreement. The later organization, with four gaming officials on its five-member board, was recently created to manage Douglas County promotional funds raised from the room tax.

Without funds from Douglas County, which usually provides two-thirds of LTVA funding, the organization is left with only $700,000 from the city of South Lake Tahoe and cooperative dollars, both of which have been jeopardized by the controversy.

Before the new marketing program was released, a frustrated Tom Davis, the city’s representative on the LTVA board, speculated that the city might take its promotional funds and do something on the California side.

“If this were a business we’d be bankrupt,” said Davis, who was “disgusted” with the factions.

Weber was hopeful the new plan would calm the controversies and keep the funds together.

“If we can go back to the Douglas County Commissioners and show that the LTVA and TDVA are in sync, we can keep that money whole,” Weber said.

The new plan directs $1 million to be spent in Northern California on advertising on cable television, VIA magazine and newspapers in Contra Costa, San Jose, Sacramento and other Bay Area locations.

Destination marketing will continue with $300,000 of LTVA funding plus cooperative funds committed by other businesses and organizations.

That portion of the plan is directed to Orange County and Houston with some spill over to Dallas. Most of that effort will be focused on sales missions, travel agent contacts and airline partnerships plus advertising in USA Today.

“We can still get a jump start into Northern California and we don’t give up the concept of developing destination markets,” Weber said.

The new plan also opens doors for small businesses without big advertising dollars to participate by contributing to packages, he said.

The revised plan includes a new fall-season event expected to begin Labor Day weekend, possibly with a resurrected Sternwheeler Race, and continue through November.

“I’m much more optimistic than last week after reading all the rhetoric,” said Weber who was initially frustrated with the Gaming Alliance action. “This I can live with.”

WHO: Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

WHAT: Board of Directors meeting

WHEN: Thursday, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Tallac Vista Conference Site


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