Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ketchum: Sun Valley should boost marketing

Mayor: City supports Marketing Alliance, but canít pay more


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

    Following a quarterly presentation of the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance’s recent activities to the Ketchum City Council on Monday, Mayor Randy Hall said the “biggest gain” that the Marketing Alliance could make would be to “restore the funding levels from Sun Valley.”
    Hall said that if the Marketing Alliance succeeded in doing so, it would “restore Ketchum’s confidence” that the Sun Valley area would be effectively promoted outside the Wood River Valley.
    “We’ve got to find a way to get that money back,” he said.
    In August, the Sun Valley City Council voted to reduce its funding of the Marketing Alliance from $356,000 to $250,000 for fiscal year 2013, effectively slashing the organization’s $1.21 million budget for that year by about 8.3 percent.
    The Marketing Alliance was formed in 2010 by a partnership between the two cities, in which each pledged to end their funding of the now defunct Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau in favor of supporting the new organization in the amount of $400,000 per year. Sun Valley even put up $20,000 in seed money to get the ball rolling. Both cities had agreed that judging by dwindling visitor numbers, the Visitors Bureau was not effectively marketing the area externally.
    In October, Hall urged the council to increase Ketchum’s fiscal 2013 commitment to the Marketing Alliance by $25,000 to help offset Sun Valley’s cut. The council voted unanimously to do so. Sun Valley Co. matched Ketchum’s contribution. Ketchum had already upped its support of the organization over the past few years in response to a decrease in funding (though less austere than the August cut) over the same period by Sun Valley. In fiscal 2013, it gave the organization $456,000.
    “The city of Ketchum fully supports the activities of the Marketing Alliance,” Hall said at the meeting Monday.
    However, Hall also said Ketchum should no longer continue to increase the organization’s yearly funding.
    “We’re there,” he said, referring to the limit of how much Ketchum should contribute.
    Hall said the situation is “demoralizing” for Ketchum.
    “The city can’t just keep throwing more money at the Marketing Alliance to offset Sun Valley,” he said. “We have to figure out a way to all start pulling in the same direction.”
    Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe did not respond to messages seeking comment by press deadline Tuesday.

Marketing Alliance activity
    During the Marketing Alliance’s quarterly presentation, President Arlene Schieven said the organization’s efforts are yielding “positive” results.
    Schieven said business membership had exceeded the Marketing Alliance’s goal for fiscal 2013, which began Oct. 1. According to Schieven, the organization now has 285 member businesses, versus 242 last year. She said the goal was to reach 275.
    Schieven also said the Marketing Alliance had exceeded its goals for engaging potential visitors on its website, blog and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
    Lastly, Schieven said hotel occupancy in the area over the year had shown “positive indicators.”
Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




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