Friday, December 7, 2012

Marketing Alliance gets applause

Members ask questions, but approve efforts

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance was grilled by valley business owners during its annual membership meeting Wednesday night, but attendees mostly expressed approval of the organization’s efforts to entice nonresidents to visit the area.

“The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance and the Sun Valley Co. are really the only ones doing external marketing,” said Arlene Schieven, the Marketing Alliance’s chief marketing officer.

Schieven said the organization coordinates with the resort to target the same cities that the resort subsidizes Horizon Air to provide direct flights from. Currently, those cities are Seattle and Los Angeles. Schieven also said another target market is Boise.

The Marketing Alliance is supported mainly by the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum, though Sun Valley has reduced its commitment significantly over the past few years. The organization’s $1.1 million fiscal 2013 budget is composed of contributions from Ketchum (43 percent), Sun Valley (22 percent, expected to be approved Thursday after press deadline), the Idaho Travel Council (19 percent), special contributions (9 percent, including a one-year-only $25,000 cash infusion from Sun Valley Co.) and membership dues (7 percent).

The meeting was held at the Community Library in Ketchum in a lecture room packed with about 60 people, including local business owners, Ketchum and Sun Valley city officials and representatives from organizations such as Sustain Blaine and the Wood River Economic Partnership.

Schieven presented a short overview of the organization’s winter campaign, “Searching for Sun Valley,” whose goal, she said, is to increase awareness of Sun Valley among “destination skiers.” Schieven said the Marketing Alliance is taking a two-pronged approach.

“First, we have to inform people to come to Sun Valley and inspire them to come here,” she said. “Then we get them here with the more tactical approach of offering special deals and packages.”

Schieven also said the organization is working to secure more events such as SolFest and the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival, perhaps including one to bolster business during slack. She said events provide exposure and “animate the destination.”

Attendees raised some questions, such as why the organization only promotes the brand “Sun Valley” and not Ketchum as well.

“Focusing on two different brands would be too much for our budget,” she said.

Attendees agreed that most people refer to the whole valley as the Sun Valley area. However, people who spoke up at the meeting mostly said they’re happy with the organization’s performance, especially considering its small budget and the many years that external marketing has been neglected in Sun Valley.

“Our group thinks you’re doing a great job,” said Doug Brown, director of the Wood River Economic Partnership.

His remark was met with applause.

Brennan Rego:




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