Friday, August 12, 2011

Marketing groups nab major grants

Sun Valley Marketing Alliance gets $218K

Express Staff Writer

Greg Randolph

Though grant requests by local marketing organizations were not funded in full, the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance and the Hailey Chamber of Commerce have each received more dollars than last year from the Idaho Travel Council.

The council granted nearly $3 million in tourism marketing funding to nonprofit organizations through the Idaho Regional Travel and Convention Grant Program. The grants were announced at the council's annual summer meeting last week in McCall.

The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance submitted a grant request for $395,000. It received $218,000.

"We did pretty well," said Greg Randolph, general manager of the Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce, which operates under the alliance. "They saw we had a really good plan. It was encouraging we were that successful."

Last year, the alliance received $201,000. Figures had been higher, however, for nearly a dozen years.

The Hailey Chamber of Commerce asked for $33,011 and received $15,000.

"We're thrilled," said Executive Director Heather LaMonica Deckard. "It's the largest grant that the Hailey Chamber has ever received from the Idaho Travel Council. It is good news."

The Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce asked for $40,135 and received $30,000.

The grants are funded by the state's "bed tax," a 2 percent tax on hotel, motel and private campground accommodations.

"This is a remarkable program which leverages creative ideas and the 2 percent lodging tax revenues into marketing dollars for the communities of Idaho," said Karen Ballard, administrator for the Division of Tourism Development, in a news release.

The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance's request included funds for website and social media, advertising, public relations, design and production of brochures, event promotion and research.

"Digital media, including online and social media, are key to effectively and efficiently communicating with our audience," the grant reads.

Potential initiatives cited by the alliance, in collaboration with Sun Valley Co., were Sun Valley short films; social media content such as photographs, short videos and written content; and a Facebook page for the Sun Valley area.

Hailey's request included funds for the Hailey Visitor Guide, a tourism brochure, websites, social media, public relations and associated training.

"Hailey, Idaho, has many recreational and cultural opportunities and events," the grant reads. "The Hailey Chamber intends to advertise these attractions through a mix of print media, online marketing, and radio. Special emphasis will be placed on events that have the potential to increase the number of visitors they bring to Hailey."

Deckard said that although some initiatives will be scaled back because of only partial funding, the chamber is prepared to build on initiatives it recently launched.

"They saw the work we did last year," she said. "They were pleased, so this year they gave us more."

Lodging tax collections statewide for fiscal 2011 were $6.6 million.

Forty-five percent of the funds are used for statewide marketing programs; another 45 percent is distributed back in the grant program, which allocates funds to the regions in which the taxes were collected. The remaining 10 percent goes to administration of the division.

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