by BRENNAN REGO
Ketchum and the Sun Valley Co. have agreed to make up part of the funds recently slashed from the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance budget by the city of Sun Valley.
During a Ketchum City Council meeting Monday, Mayor Randy Hall urged the council to increase the city’s fiscal 2013 commitment to the Marketing Alliance by $25,000. Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley Co. director of marketing and public relations, said the resort was prepared to match any contribution the council approved.
The council voted unanimously to increase Ketchum’s commitment by $25,000, effectively injecting $50,000 into the Marketing Alliance’s fiscal 2013 budget.
Hall said the money would come from the city’s contingency fund.
“We are very pleased with [Ketchum’s] continued support,” Marketing Alliance President and Chief Operating Officer Arlene Schieven stated in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express. “We are hopeful that we will be able to continue to increase our presence amongst key mountain resorts so that Sun Valley will, in time, once again become top of mind as a destination for a ski vacation.”
Hall’s request and the council’s subsequent decision to increase funding for the Marketing Alliance were made in response to an Aug. 16 decision by the Sun Valley City Council to cut Sun Valley’s fiscal 2013 commitment to the Marketing Alliance by $100,000.
Hall said at the meeting that Ketchum’s increased contribution—along with Sun Valley Co.’s match—means the Marketing Alliance will only have to scale back its fiscal 2013 budget by $50,000 instead of the full $100,000 as previously expected.
Including Ketchum’s and Sun Valley Co.’s increase and Sun Valley’s recent decrease, the Marketing Alliance’s current fiscal 2013 budget now totals about $1,043,600.
“Now’s not the time to gut marketing,” Hall said at the meeting. “It’s time to double down.”
In fiscal 2011, both cities agreed to pay $400,000 each to hire the Marketing Alliance to promote the Sun Valley area outside of Blaine County. In fiscal 2012, Sun Valley dialed down its commitment to $356,000, while Ketchum picked up some of Sun Valley’s slack, paying $431,000. For fiscal 2013, Sun Valley will pay $256,000 while Ketchum pays $456,000.
The remainder of the Marketing Alliance’s budget is funded by Idaho Travel Council grants and members’ dues.
Hall said he isn’t a “marketing expert,” but he feels the Marketing Alliance’s mission is “on target” and its marketing strategy is “gaining traction.”
“Our [local-option tax] numbers are up, we’re bringing more money in and we might be able to start doing more capital improvement projects soon,” he said.
Hall said he wants to send a message to the community to show that Ketchum is not giving up on promoting the area to outsiders.
Sibbach agreed with Hall, saying the resort works well with the Marketing Alliance’s president and chief marketing officer, Arlene Schieven, and its director of public relations and social media, Greg Randolph.
“[Sun Valley Co.] wants to show everyone that we’re all in it together,” Sibbach said.
Sibbach also said he is disappointed that Sun Valley Co. has not been able to convince the city of Sun Valley to reverse its Aug. 16 funding cut.
“I don’t want Ketchum to be an enabler in a codependent relationship,” Hall said, referring to Ketchum’s yearly tendency to pick up the slack left by Sun Valley in the Marketing Alliance’s budget.
He said Ketchum’s additional contribution of $25,000 is a “bitter pill” that the city is just going to have to swallow.
Councilman Jim Slanetz agreed that Ketchum should not be the “enabler” in the kind of “codependent” relationship described by Hall, but—like Hall—he said he did not want to see the Marketing Alliance lose momentum.
Councilman Michael David said at first that he felt strongly about not “enabling” that “codependent” relationship. However, he said he realized when “times get tough,” investing less in outside marketing is just the opposite of what the community should do.
Hall and the council members agreed that Ketchum needs to come up with a mathematical “matrix” that empirically outlines how much Ketchum and Sun Valley each benefit from the Marketing Alliance’s work. With such a matrix, they said, it would be easier to calculate how much each city should invest.
“The reality is we do have to show [the city of Sun Valley] the math so we don’t have to fight this battle every year,” Hall said. “It’s not good ethos for our community.”
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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.