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North Tahoe touted in ad blitz

An advertising campaign saturating the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets with glossy pictures of blue-bird skiing and panoramic shots of snowy mountains is planting strong and positive impressions of the North Shore among potential tourists, according to data taken from a recent survey.

The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association’s 2008 media campaign left 94 percent of viewers with the impression that North Lake Tahoe is a premier destination for skiing and snowboarding, according to the survey conducted by the San Diego-based Strata Research firm.

And 93 percent of those interviewed in Los Angeles said they felt the print advertisements illustrated Lake Tahoe as a “captivating vacation destination.”



“The thing that we’re most excited about are the kind of directional upward trends in almost all categories” of the survey, said Andy Chapman, the resort association’s director of tourism. “Rarely does [the research group] see a campaign that goes directionally [up] in all categories, and that’s what ours did.”

The survey’s results were presented to the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association Board of Directors at their meeting Wednesday.



The survey revealed strong percentages of respondents who were able to recall the Lake Tahoe advertisements, and most said the campaign portrayed North Tahoe as a place that offers a “pure experience” and a variety of activities.

“Doesn’t that tell us that we have an identity,” said Director Alex Mourelatos, noting that 17 percent of Los Angeles respondents rated Tahoe better than other winter destinations because of Tahoe’s variety of ski areas to choose from. “And that identity is tied into our diversity of resorts.”

The resort association intends to use the survey, which gauged the public’s reaction to their advertising campaign, to guide future decisions on their media outreach intended to attract people to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Chapman said.

Director Tom Murphy was critical of the population the campaign targeted ” people between the ages of 25 and 54 with a household income that exceeds $75,000 and who have an interested in winter mountain vacations.

“The marketing effort doesn’t seem to draw in new people to Tahoe or to winter sports,” Murphy said. “And I find that concerning.”

The resort association focused their winter advertisements primarily in the Los Angeles region, with a TV spot, aggressive direct mailing and glossy advertisements in regional publications, Chapman said.

“I think we certainly saw some good success out of the L.A. campaign,” he said. “I would anticipate, with all things being equal, that we will be back in that marketplace in the winter time.”

Chapman said they will turn their attention to San Francisco at the end of the month to promote summer travel to the North Shore among Bay Area residents.

Since the San Francisco campaign has not yet reached full force, the survey’s results are more indicative of the campaign’s impact in Los Angeles. Another survey will be cast after the San Francisco TV spot airs in the early summer.

In the meantime, the results taken from the San Francisco region are looked at as interim data, Chapman said.

Of the 814 Los Angeles and San Francisco residents who were interviewed by a 10-minute online survey, half were interviewed before the TV spot aired in Los Angeles in January and February and half were interviewed afterwards. The survey split the interviews to directly measure the campaign’s impact.

More than 25 percent of respondents had been exposed to the North Lake Tahoe ad campaign, which featured print, television and direct mail mediums, the survey said.

“To us, that’s very, very impressive,” said Vice President Gretchen Ponts of the Strata Research firm, who noted that typically only five to 15 percent of those interviewed said they were exposed to the marketing campaign being researched.

While San Francisco respondents said they are more likely to come up to Tahoe than those in Los Angeles, the survey revealed that Los Angeles respondents rated North Tahoe higher among competitive destinations than those in San Francisco.

“The L.A. market had a little more propensity to go to the North Shore as a result of the ads,” Chapman said. “Where in San Francisco, we didn’t see that same change, although it’s an interim report … I think that goes hand in hand with [San Francisco] being more familiar with the marketplace.”

Distance, however, is the biggest barrier to Los Angeles residents thinking of traveling to Tahoe, the survey showed, with more than half of L.A. residents saying they would drive the eight hours to visit, rather than fly.

“One of the perceptions we’ve seen here from the L.A. folks is that Tahoe is a far place to go,” Ponts said.

The survey also found that nearly one in five Los Angeles residents did not make a distinction between North and South Lake Tahoe, compared to only 9 percent in San Francisco.

While San Francisco visitors are split between which side of the lake they choose to stay at, only 21 percent of Los Angeles visitors said they spent the night on the North Shore. Nearly half of Los Angeles respondents said they booked lodging in South Tahoe.

– 83 percent of San Francisco respondents said they were likely to visit North Tahoe, compared to 67 percent in Los Angeles after the TV commercial aired in January and February.

– Mammoth Mountain (80 percent) and Bear Mountain (80 percent) were the two most recalled resorts among those who reside in Los Angeles.

– Visitors from San Francisco were most likely to be aware of resorts in Lake Tahoe, with Heavenly (87 percent), Northstar (86 percent) and Squaw Valley (85 percent) being the most recalled.

– 30 percent of Los Angeles respondents said they were not likely to visit North Lake Tahoe in the next 12 months because it is too far from home.

– 30 percent of San Francisco respondents rated Tahoe worse than other competitive destinations because of less snow or the quality of snow.


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