Friday, December 17, 2010

City hands over $380K for marketing

Sun Valley set to match Ketchum’s share

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum signed over $380,000 to the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance on Thurdsay, putting an end to six months of debate over whether the city should increase its marketing spending and drop its longtime promoter, the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau. But not one member of the alliance was there Thursday afternoon to reap the fruits of their labor.

According to alliance President Jake Peters, the group is already hard at work with San Francisco-based marketing-firm Eleven Inc., whose staff are currently visiting the valley in an effort to put together a marketing plan for the Sun Valley resort area—essentially Ketchum and Sun Valley. The plan will be presented to Ketchum no later than Jan. 20, along with the alliance's detailed budget.

"We're all systems go," Peters said in a phone interview.

Ketchum and Sun Valley provided the alliance with $20,000 each in November to hire Eleven Inc. to draft a marketing plan. With Ketchum City Council's unanimous Thursday decision, that brings the city's total contribution to $400,000 for the alliance's first year of operation. The money will be handed over in quarterly installments.

The Sun Valley City Council plans to contribute an equal amount and was scheduled to do so Thursday evening, but their decision wasn't made before the Express' press deadline.

The cities' self-stated rationale for funding marketing of the resort area is that the desired effect of attracting more visitors will increase the cites' sales taxes, called local-option taxes. These taxes are applied to sales of ski-lift tickets, lodging, by-the-glass liquor, and retail.

Under the contract, the cities are paying not only for the alliance's service as a marketer, but to run the visitor center, plan local events and ensure customer satisfaction. The alliance has come to encompass the Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The contract also ensures that the cities can keep a close eye on their $400,000 investments. The alliance is required to provide detailed quarterly reports showing spending within each of their four service areas. The alliance must also demonstrate quarterly that it's accomplishing measurable marketing goals. These metrics will be established in its marketing plan.

If the alliance doesn't perform, the contract allows the cities to "terminate" their partnership "with or without cause," and they wouldn't be responsible for any further payments even if they hadn't handed over their last quarterly installment yet.

Peters said the alliance is also in the process of looking for its chief marketing officer. Candice Pate has been serving as the interim CMO and can also throw her hat in the ring for the permanent position, if she desires.

At this point, the alliance includes a board and the interim CEO, as well as elements of the chamber.

The Wednesday edition of the Express will include a report on the Sun Valley City Council's decision.

Trevon Milliard:

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