Meetings provide new marketing voice
A group of business owners and citizens who feel disenfranchised from established marketing organizations met Tuesday to find alternatives to the economic woes of South Lake Tahoe.
The morning and afternoon meetings looked at alternatives to what Jean Persson, co-owner of Tahoe Villa and organizer of the event, considers the casino-dominated marketing of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority,
“This is not a gripe session. We’ve done that already,” she said to open the morning meeting which began with about 20 people. “We want to look at what types of things we in the community can do to turn this place around.”
Pointing to the frequent closures of established businesses, Persson hoped to find specific recommendations to present to the City Council on April 15.
Persson also distributed a petition asking the City Council to both withdraw its financial support from the LTVA and to provide “seed money” for a business improvement district.
A fraction of a percent of business license fees could be collected for the district to market Tahoe’s non-casino attractions, she said.
On hand to guide the meetings were Bay Area marketers Eric Persson, Persson’s son, and Myles Knapp of Knapp Enterprises.
“We work a system for turning around negative (economic) spirals,” said Knapp, who provided his services free of charge to his friend Persson.
Within a couple weeks, Knapp will deliver to Persson a report on the conclusions from the meetings for her to present to the city and LTVA.
“We’re not here to form a group, we’re here to give you a voice,” Persson told the dozen small lodging owners and interested citizens who stayed through the meeting.
That group considered the question, “What can we do to increase profitable tourist business now?”
A viable airport offered a long-term solution but not immediate economic relief, they concluded.
Better short-term economic solutions could be provided by marketing that focused on family-oriented and outdoor activities and the area’s ease of access.
“You have the resources to do that,” said Knapp, adding that marketing of that type could be done individually and as a group.
Following the meeting, Persson expressed satisfaction with the process and the “Hundreds of years of experience” represented by those who participated.
“If we’re honest and ethical, we shouldn’t have to fight to run our businesses in the most beautiful place on earth,” Persson said, explaining the need for the meetings. “We’ve done everything we’re supposed to do and nobody is here.”
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