LTVA board agrees to move forward |

LTVA board agrees to move forward

Sally J. Taylor

The partners of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority on Tuesday agreed to keep the partnership going and get moving on the latest version of a marketing plan for 1998.

The seven-member board unanimously approved a motion calling for the partners to work together, commit funding and an equal vote for each partner.

“Yahoo,” said board member Debra Howard, the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce representative, who proposed the original motion that was defeated at the Dec. 12 board meeting.

Since then the motion was tweaked to the satisfaction of board members and specifically included on the agenda, a previous sticking point. The new version also acknowledges the need to revise the joint powers agreement between the city and county to include the newly created Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority.

Preceding the motion, the board unanimously passed the latest version of the 1997-98 Marketing Plan, based on one proposed by the casino marketing professionals.

The plan focuses advertising dollars on Northern California with $900,000 proposed, a little less than the gaming plan. Destination marketing in Orange County and the Southwest is proposed to receive $450,000 and a three-day special event, $150,000.

“This is a stop the bleeding plan (not a long-range strategy),” said Bill Chernock, marketing manager for Travel Systems Ltd. and the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce representative to the board.

The ultimate goal is to increase destination marketing, agreed board members as well as the plan’s presenters, Sue Hyde, vice-president of marketing for Caesars Tahoe, and Knud Svendsen, director of sales and marketing for Embassy Suites Resort.

“Everybody in the (marketing) group believes we have to spend money doing both those things. Where consensus drifts is in how those percentages fall out,” Hyde said.

“There is a consensus on this plan (between gaming and marketing committee members),” she said, referring to an earlier call for consensus from Douglas County Commissioners before that board would commit to funding.

With the addition of cooperative dollars and funds already committed for specific promotions, the total 1998 marketing package could amount to $3.1 million, if all the expected funds come through.

The new plan combines media, including cable and print and a call to action, noted John Wagnon, vice president of marketing for Heavenly Ski Resort and the at-large member of the LTVA board. “It’s pretty straight forward. Let’s let her rip, but let’s make sure we can measure the results.”

The biggest snag to the marketing plan was a hastily developed Labor Day Weekend event designed to kick off the fall season. As proposed, the event could include a slot tournament, sternwheeler race and fireworks display.

Tom Davis, the city’s representative, suggested a Memorial Day kick off event might be more appropriate.

The board instructed the committee to take a closer look and “come back and convince us (that this plan is better),” said Don Miner, the Douglas County representative.

“This process is the best thing to happen to this community,” Miner said. “This board must be more than a rubber stamp, it must challenge proposals. We’ve lived off personal testimonials for two long. We need hard data.”

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