Marketing full speed in California
With the flip of the funding switch from Douglas County, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority has turned on the power to its 1997-98 Marketing Plan.
The first ads from the new campaign should appear in February in Bay Area and Southern California newspapers.
Late Thursday, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved $1.5 million in funding for the bistate marketing organization. The commissioners, who began their meeting at 1 p.m., did not address the LTVA funding issue until 10 p.m.
“The 1.5 million historical funding was reinstated (by the commissioners),” said LTVA Interim Executive Director Terry LeBan on Friday. “We’re ready to move forward immediately. Everything has just been waiting for funding.”
The plan directs $900,000 of LTVA funds plus $320,000 in private contributions for advertising in Northern California newspapers and cable television. For destination marketing in Southern California and the west, $450,000 of LTVA funds plus $40,000 private dollars will be spent on newspaper and magazine advertising, airline co-op programs and public relations programs.
A $150,000 special events component will be revisited by the LTVA board in January and the county commissioners in February.
According to Commissioner and LTVA Director Don Miner, with the county-approved funding and $680,000 already committed by the city of South Lake Tahoe plus other public funding, the LTVA could receive $3.1 million in funding for the year.
Funds from private sources could bring promotional funds to $4.4 million, “the largest marketing budget in the history of the LTVA,” Miner said.
“This is the result of a lot of people putting in a lot of their own ideas and working through the issues.”
A marketing plan that emphasized destination marketing in Orange County was nearly implemented in November. However, in response to a dramatic drop in gaming revenues and hotel occupancy in September, the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance asked that the plan be reworked to emphasis advertising in Northern California, the main feeder market for the South Shore.
Forward progress on the marketing plan stopped and threatened to undo the LTVA partnership which consists of representatives from the city, county, lodging, gaming, both chambers of commerce and an at-large seat currently from the ski industry.
The county commissioners refused to commit funding for the year to the organization until all partners could agree on a plan.
The LTVA directors unanimously approved the revised plan in December, with the exception of the special events component that proposes a three-day Labor Day weekend celebration.
The LTVA directors asked the marketing committee to reconsider a spring Memorial Day event and present this month to the directors a more detailed justification for its recommendation.
Once the LTVA board approves the proposal, county commissioners will consider it.
In other loose ends, the commissioners reserved $130,000 of the LTVA allocation to fund the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center should it be needed if the county has a budget shortfall at the end of the year. Historically, the chamber, along with the valley chamber, has been funded through a different division of the transient occupancy taxes.
While funding the marketing plan has been a major focus, it does not represent the whole of the organization’s programs, emphasized LTVA board Chairman Mike Weber, managing director of Camp Richardson Resort.
Through the controversy, work has continued on trade shows, public relations contacts and other programs.
This week, the LTVA and other sponsors will host Operation Sierra Storm, which teaches Sierra Nevada weather characteristics to meteorologists from across the nation.
Also this week, the first 1998 edition of the LTVA’s travel publication promoting South Shore vacations will be inserted in many newspapers in Northern and Southern California.
“It’s not as though nothing’s going on,” Weber said. “We’re working every day.”
With its revised plan in place, the LTVA staff will be working even harder and progress closely monitored.
“The best thing to come out of the process is the community (partners) agreed to be data driven,” Weber said. “We might not agree on the kind of business we want but we can agree on the numbers to measure the business. Numbers don’t lie but sometimes people can with the figures.
“I think we’re on our way.”
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