LTVA director resigns
The executive director of the embattled Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is moving from a marketing nightmare at Tahoe to a dream job in Seattle.
Ron Spellecy announced on Monday his resignation from the LTVA, effective Dec. 9. He has accepted a position with the Seattle Mariners as director of team travel for the professional baseball team.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to get into baseball,” Spellecy said, adding that he played college baseball, coached and his father worked for a league. “I guess I inherited my interest. It’s something I truly love.”
Spellecy, who at one time worked in Seattle for Westin Hotels and Resorts, was first approached in October by the Mariners organization for recommendations for the travel director position. In November, as the LTVA’s future looked in doubt, Spellecy called to see if the position was still open.
“(Accepting the Seattle position) was not a difficult decision to make,” Spellecy said.
“It’s been a wild ride,” he said of his 15 months with the bistate marketing organization.
When hired by the LTVA in September 1996, Spellecy began almost immediately to develop a new strategic plan for the marketing organization.
“Ron came in and did what he was hired to do,” said Mike Weber, the president of the LTVA board of directors. “He did a good job.”
Approval of the three- to five-year plan was delayed by an emergency marketing campaign that followed the winter closure of flood-damaged U.S. Highway 50. The Strategic Plan was finally approved by the seven-member board of directors in May.
“I think I was very successful,” said Spellecy, who earns $75,000 annually from the LTVA. “I was brought here to change some things, to do some different things that, at least the board at that time felt, were necessary.”
Last month, the LTVA came under fierce bombardment even as the LTVA prepared to launch the plan’s first new feature, an advertising campaign to Orange County. The Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance asked that the organization’s advertising be refocused on Northern California only. They maintained it would take less effort to quickly turn around falling tourism numbers with more advertising in Tahoe’s primary market.
The South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association joined the appeal and the Douglas County Commissioners refused to release funds to the LTVA until the Gaming Alliance backed its plan. Each of the three organizations hold seats on the LTVA board of directors.
“After all the planning and progress, everything that the LTVA’s been able to accomplish has been put hold,” Spellecy said. “I’m sad about that.
“It’s awful disheartening to go through all of that and have a bomb shell dropped.”
While some board members were satisfied with Spellecy’s performance, he was often in the middle of internal conflicts.
Tom Davis, who represents the city on the LTVA board, expressed frustration with the infighting.
“Ron was criticized for his lack of leadership and initiative, then at the next meeting he was criticized for taking initiative without board approval,” Davis said. “We’ve lost a year now and all that time and grief.”
According to Weber, the LTVA will wait to seek a new director until “we solidify relationships” between the LTVA and its funding partners.
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