Friday, March 9, 2012

Jaquet takes seat on marketing board

Gail Severn, Meg Vorm elected to advisory positions

Express Staff Writer

Wendy Jaquet, former executive director of the north valley's chamber of commerce, has been elected to the board of directors for the chamber's successor organization, the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance.

Jaquet, who will serve a three-year term, took her seat at the board meeting Thursday.

Jaquet served as head of the now-defunct chamber for nearly 15 years before resigning in 1997. She currently is a state representative but is not running for re-election.

Members of the marketing alliance nominated candidates for the board position, culminating in a vote Tuesday. Restaurant owner Scott Mason was the runner-up.

Jaquet takes over the seat formerly held by Jane Rizzo. However, the process by which she got there is new.

At a December meeting, members voiced frustration about the alliance's mission of strategic marketing rather than business advocacy, as was done under the chamber. They clamored for a voice on the board to help represent their interests.

The board of directors, with the support of the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley—which provide nearly three-quarters of the organization's funding—created a member-nominated, member-elected position in January.

Previously, people were appointed to that and another at-large position by the three permanent-seat members, consisting of representatives of Ketchum, Sun Valley and Sun Valley Co.

Also elected this week were two members to the alliance's advisory board: art gallery owner Gail Severn and restaurateur Meg Vorm. They will serve two-year terms.

Guided by a goal

About 80 percent of the alliance's budget goes toward strategic marketing, with 20 percent tabbed for visitor services.

As a member organization, the alliance must also take into account members' wishes and concerns, though what members want doesn't always align with the alliance's mission. Ultimately, decisions are guided by one consideration.

"We always have to evaluate [member input] against what's best for the visitor," said Arlene Schieven, alliance president and chief marketing officer.

Budgetary constraints and staffing numbers also factor in to what can and can't be accomplished, she said.

The alliance has three full-time employees and two part-time positions, plus visitor center clerks. The part-time marketing assistant position is in this year's budget but has not yet been filled.

Schieven said Sun Valley is vying with other resort areas to attract visitors, but it has nowhere near the marketing resources.

"We're competing with organizations that have 60 employees," she said.

Looking ahead

Schieven updated board members on marketing efforts for the summer season.

Increasing awareness of the Ketchum-Sun Valley area, especially among young people, is an ongoing challenge.

"Our job is to make people in Southern California understand that Sun Valley is still here," said board member Jake Peters.

Efforts are focused on key target areas: Los Angeles, Seattle and Boise.

This summer, the alliance again will organize the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships. Though the itinerant bike race committed to just two years in Sun Valley, the valley will host USA Cycling Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships in 2013 and 2014.

"We will likely try to keep Ride Sun Valley as a festival going," Schieven said of the concurrent, local event.

Rebecca Meany:

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