Officials: North Tahoe saw increased 2012-13 winter visits |

Officials: North Tahoe saw increased 2012-13 winter visits

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Efforts to lure visitors back to the region this past ski season following the mild 2011-12 winter proved to be successful.

From January to March 2013, Transient Occupancy Tax funds increased 35 percent from the same time in 2012, making it one of the best third quarters on record, said Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association.

The increase in TOT funds — which are generated by visitors staying in short-term area lodging accommodations — is likely due to an uptick in visitation and room rates, he said.

“What we found is lots of early snow and clear roads is a great equation for a big winter up here,” Chapman told the Placer County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

Strong, consistent snowstorms in late October and early November 2012 allowed most ski resorts to have full or partial operations by Thanksgiving, according to the North Lake Tahoe Performance Report for October 2012 through March 2013.

Snow continued to pile up in December, and a large storm right before the holidays allowed for a strong Christmas to New Year period.

This period was followed by a “virtual drought” from January to early March, according to the report. However, resorts’ snowmaking abilities and grooming equipment, coupled with clear roads, made for a strong third quarter.

There also was focus this year on strengthening the region’s awareness within the Bay Area, using billboard advertising and TV spots branding Tahoe as a close escape from everyday life.

Non-traditional marketing tactics were also used, Chapman said, including the power-washing of busy sidewalks in San Francisco, leaving behind messages such as: “All these hills and no snow. What a waste.” This tactic drew a lot of attention, Chapman said, both with traditional and social media.

Chapman reported a 5 percent increase in Bay Area ad awareness from two years ago.

“It was almost like a perfect storm,” Chapman said in a follow-up interview. “(We have) a good product, we had great promotion of that product, and we had a consumer that was interested in receiving that information and acting on it.”

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