My Turn: An accurate look at marketing our region
Recently, a guest column appeared on this page in which the writer questioned the effectiveness of the marketing strategies of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA).
It is interesting to note that in the same issue of the Sierra Sun, on the front page, there was a report that Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) collections in the North Lake Tahoe area of eastern Placer County were up 9.5 percent in the second quarter of the current fiscal year (October through December). The story also reported that total TOT collections for the period of July through December of 2006 marked the best first six months of a fiscal year in North Lake Tahoe history. Since a drop after Sept. 11, 2001, the trend in Placer County TOT collections has continued on an upward curve.
Marketing isn’t a precise science. TOT collections aren’t solely an outcome of marketing, but are certainly regarded by industry professionals as a key indicator. The NLTRA tracks a number of indicators on a quarterly basis to help measure the effectiveness of our marketing investments. We adjust and refine our expenditures accordingly. We track changes in the way consumers research and book their travel. More travelers now use online booking tools such as Expedia and Travelocity and search engines including Google and Yahoo, which generate more direct bookings with lodging suppliers.
Based on these changes, we no longer operate a locally-based reservation call center. It isn’t cost effective for the NLTRA or our lodging suppliers to do so. But we can generate awareness of our destination and demand for our lodging suppliers through our Web site. The NLTRA and its marketing partners just launched what we believe is one of the best destination travel Web sites in the country ” http://www.GoTahoeNorth.com.
The writer of the guest column criticized the NLTRA for promoting Truckee, Truckee attractions and Truckee member businesses as part of our marketing efforts. The NLTRA’s mission has always been to “promote North Lake Tahoe as a travel destination with the purpose of increasing travel spending within the region.”
Visitors are typically not familiar with, nor do they care about geographic boundaries. They’re coming to visit the North Lake Tahoe region. Truckee is a vibrant and growing community and is part of the North Lake Tahoe experience, as well as an emerging destination in its own right. It makes good marketing sense to leverage Truckee’s presence in the market place to benefit the region.
The potential for achieving the NLTRA’s mission is highest when we leverage our expenditures in marketing, infrastructure and transportation. Last year, the NLTRA signed an agreement with the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau to form the North Lake Tahoe Marketing Cooperative. Each organization contributes significant marketing funds to cooperatively promote the region with a unified message, leveraging TOT from Placer County and Washoe County.
While the Town of Truckee does not currently contribute any of its TOT funds directly to the Marketing Cooperative, it does invest Truckee TOT in marketing and promotional activities conducted by the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce (TDCC).
The writer of the guest column claimed all Truckee lodges in Nevada County are “riding for free on our (NLTRA) Web Site.” Not so.
TDCC officials recently noted that while TOT dollars generated in Truckee are far less than those in Placer County, they work diligently to leverage their dollars with other partners, including the NLTRA. They believe, as we do, that a cooperative marketing approach not only enhances our individual communities, but the economy of our region as a whole.
We’re pleased to work with the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce as a marketing partner. We salute the continued commitment of Placer County to return 60 percent of the TOT generated in eastern Placer County for investment in marketing, infrastructure and transportation projects, as developed through the locally based decision making process of the NLTRA.
We thank our partners at the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau for their collaborative funding and support of the North Lake Tahoe Marketing Cooperative.
We also thank our many partners in the resort and business community for their investments in cooperative marketing, as well as in economic, environmental and community improvements. Our mutual success is clearly based on effective partnerships.
As NLTRA executive director, I am proud to serve with 11 dedicated professionals who work for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and two who work for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. Our NLTRA Board of Directors and those who serve on our five committees, including our Marketing Committee, are all volunteers. They willingly contribute their expertise on behalf of the greater community good.
The author of the guest column discussed various NLTRA budget figures and expenditures, presenting the numbers as factual. Unfortunately, none of the figures presented were accurate or accurately portrayed. All of our meetings are open to the public and we actively engage public input. We’re happy to discuss our budgets, expenditures and fiscal accountability.
We are committed to the overall mission and success of the NLTRA, a 501(c)(4) non-profit public benefit corporation “that promotes tourism and benefits business through efforts that enhance the economic, environmental, recreational and cultural climate of the North Lake Tahoe region.”
Steve Teshara is the executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
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