Editor’s Note: This article is a direct response to The California Tourism Advertising Industrial Complex, a My Shot that ran in our December 2020 issue. Our opinion section is the space for readers to react to our content and what is happening in our communities (think of a My Shot as, quite literally, your shot). We never seek to misinform our readers, and we encourage all opinion contributors to provide sources to back up statistics to make our fact-checking process easier. However, a matter of opinion or part of an author’s argument is just that and is left alone. We also edit this section lightly for spelling and grammar to remain consistent with AP style and our own style guide.
In an era of fake news claims and misleading information, we felt that it was important to respond publicly to an opinion piece recently printed and posted by Moonshine Ink. A list of inaccuracies and false statements were written about the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau, none of which were fact-checked or verified.
Let’s start by saying that we believe in differing opinions and the importance of public opinion.
We openly ask for feedback to analyze the work we do, the agencies we hire, and the tax dollars we spend to promote the North Lake Tahoe region in periods of need. We take very seriously the role we have in revenue generation for a broad range of industries and the thousands of jobs our efforts support. Please take a moment to review the facts:
Usage of Agencies, In-House Talent: The Marketing Cooperative (NLTRA and IVCBVB) undergo an extensive request for proposal process every three years to determine agencies of record for social media, content marketing, and advertising. For the past six years, there have been two agencies of record for North Lake Tahoe located in Washoe County and Placer County, respectively. These agencies were selected because of their service capacity, skillset, and knowledge of the region. We also work with a number of local vendors and agencies to assist with web development, photography, and video, while a majority of the marketing, sales, and communications content is written and produced in-house. With guidance from two boards of directors and six committees, 74 local representatives from varying industries in North Lake Tahoe advise on consumer initiatives, corresponding budgets, and agency contracts to ensure they reflect goals outlined in the Tourism Master Plan.
Increasing Revenue for Local Businesses: Based on a 2016 study by Dean Runyan, tourism drives upwards of $800 million annually to North Lake Tahoe and employs 60% of the local workforce. Both organizations are tasked with increasing visitation to North Lake Tahoe during midweek and shoulder season timeframes to support local businesses. In evaluating the 10-year growth of Transient Occupancy Tax in Placer County with a focus on Q2 and Q4 (spring and fall), we have increased TOT collections by up to 183% due to sponsorship of events like WinterWonderGrass, Spartan World Championships, and Autumn Food and Wine, along with marketing and public relations efforts that focus on long-haul visitors. In 2018/19, North Lake Tahoe’s paid advertising influenced 125,000 visitor trips, which translates to over $205 million in visitor spending to local retailers, restaurants, activity providers, and lodging properties. As a result of our public relations efforts, many small, locally-owned businesses have been featured in national publications with backlinks to their website, increasing awareness and booking traction for their offerings. Our more recent campaigns (Takeout Tahoe, Shop Local) are dedicated to infusing dollars back into local businesses and results through website analytics demonstrate a high volume of readers utilizing these content tools.
Financial Equity and Transparency: The NLTRA is required to undergo an official audit each year, and a finance committee, composed of local CPAs and business owners, reviews financial statements on a monthly basis to ensure transparency and financial equity of the organization.
The IVCBVB expends public tax dollars, is governed by Nevada Revised Statutes, and is required to conduct extensive monthly and annual financial reviews and related audits. CEO salaries and staff budget line items noted in the opinion piece are simply incorrect. Additionally, the full fiscal year marketing cooperative budget is up 3% (not 11%), and while paid advertising is paused, the team continues to create responsible travel content in the form of Know Before You Go guides, informational videos, and more.
NLTRA and IVCBVB staff members have decades of industry experience and have dedicated their careers to the success and resilience of our local North Lake Tahoe business community, while supporting a wide range of individuals, businesses, organizations, and industries. Our commitment is unwavering. We will continue to work with the community, stakeholders, and local government on decisions that move North Lake Tahoe forward, and we will serve, as we have in the past and into our future, with integrity, transparency, and an ethically-based decision-making processes, all with the advancement of our collective communities in mind.
~ Andy Chapman is the president and CEO of the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau; Jeffrey Hentz is the CEO of North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.