In case many of you understand the concept of a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) as well as I do (not very well), here’s what I gleaned from conversations with Town Manager Rob Clark and Tourism and Recreation Director Danna Stroud this week.
Currently, Clark describes the Town’s external marketing as a “one off” arrangement. Individuals and businesses pay taxes, and in return, our Town government spends money marketing the town.
The problem with this arrangement, says Stroud, is that this leads to “little engagement with the people who rely on our [marketing] efforts.”
The overriding goal of creating a private organization focused on external marketing, sales and public relations, she said, is to actively engage the tourism industry within the community to create a broader and more collaborative effort.
As Clark explained, T.O.T. (room tax) revenue dedicated to Tourism and Recreation is spent in one of two ways. Part of the money goes to external marketing and part goes to enhancing the local resort experience.
Stroud referred to this as “booking” (drawing visitors here) and “cooking” (providing the best possible visitor experience).
*As opposed to Cooking and Booking. That’s the Finance Department’s job.
The debate underway right now is over how much T.O.T. should be dedicated to each category.
Currently, Stroud estimates the Town spends $1 million/year on external marketing, not accounting for staff costs or future air service subsidies.
She estimates that a DMO budget would, all in, be in the $2.1-$2.5 million range (the higher end of the range is applicable if an air service subsidy is built-in).
But the success of a DMO, she said, is not so much dependent on funding as it is on the framework, the amount of local support and how it’s able to leverage public dollars.
Town Manager Clark sent out a memo this week which suggests the Town should extend the UUT (Utility User Tax), scheduled to expire in 2011.
The UUT was initially implemented to finance park improvements at Shady Rest and Mammoth Creek parks.
Clark proposes the UUT be collected as a general tax (which would be absorbed into the general fund) and that Council should make a “poltiical commitment” to support current recreation facilities and programs.
Using those “committed” dollars for parks and recreation would essentially free up other general fund dollars to be used on, say, the air subsidy, which is a high Town priority.
Clark said the proposed tax extension should be ultimately seen as one which supports “economic development.”