Setting the Record Straight

The NLTRA and IVCBVB respond to criticism in Moonshine

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BY JEFF HENTZ, ANDY CHAPMAN | Moonshine Ink

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.

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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.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Without direct attribution of revenue generated any of the NLTRA’s claims of “influencing” travel and “sponsoring” events continue to fall flat to anyone owner or employee of a Tahoe based business. Simply responding “fake news” dismisses the hard work put in by hospitality industry employees who made the ads, booked the sales, groomed the trails, and cleaned the rooms that generated the TOT tax. (which is continued to be spent with ad agencies in Reno and Roseville)
    With a staff, hired consultants, lawyers and multiple ad agencies I would have expected a much stronger defense all of the broken practices I pointed out than this. The direction of the NLTRA must change from a focus on public relations, influencing and sponsorship to driving direct online sales paired with public awareness campaigns educating travelers how to act responsibly.
    While working as the Director of Marketing for Granlibakken, I analyzed 5 years of past Google Analytics data (2015-2020) and NLTRA online properties accounted for only .002% of online traffic and .002% of online revenue. Similar results for The Franciscan Lakeside Lodge, where I had the same role.

    The restaurants I work for continued to endure everything the last year has thrown at them with single digit website traffic from NLTRA web properties.

    My clients and resume can be viewed here – https://lnk.bio/gallagheranalytica

  2. I completely agree with the first comment. But would go even further to say this: If these organizations are going to presume to “take credit” for all $800M in revenue generated by Tourists (seems a little unrealistic!) all TOT tax revenue etc etc – you must also take responsibility for the Tourism disaster that we have seen this past year (the wall of Tourists packing our beaches, the parking lots of traffic on our few roads, so much graffiti and litter!, the empty shelves at grocery stores, the increased number of people who have been sick or even died from COVID in this community, etc etc)
    NLTRA is completely out-of-touch with current trends in Tourism for ecologically sensitive areas like ours, where there are huge efforts all over the world to actually “limit” numbers of visitors, and have no sensitivity to the impacts that over-Tourism has had on the local community. The single-focus on “more is better” …more people, more money, is short-sighted and dangerous; it is destroying the quality of life for the people who live here and our natural environment. It is destroying the thing that you promoting!
    I have to also say that I was mortified that NLTRA never put out a single message discouraging people from coming to Tahoe during the pandemic or when massive wildfires were within “ember-range” of hitting Truckee this summer. You not only put the lives of this community at risk but also those of Tourists.
    Rather than tell us how much money you have made for the local economy – how about you tell us this:
    – What did you do to help promote/ enforce the stay-at-home order during the pandemic. Did you do anything to stop people from staying in AirBnBs while lodging was technically closed to non-essential visitors?
    – What messaging did you put out while there were massive wildfires burning within ember-range of Truckee?
    – How have you helped “clean-up” the Lake. I recall there is a “volunteer” organization who does this. Have you provided funding support to them?
    I cannot imagine myself or anyone in this community paying more in Taxes to NLTRA, while absorbing any more of the risk that this organization poses to us. Taxes should be used for public goods, not for increasing the health and safety risk on this community.