THE RODEO LOST MONEY AGAIN THIS YEAR, AS DID TASTE OF THE COMSTOCK AND SOON TO BE OUTHOUSE RACES. IT MAY BE INTUITIVE THAT THE EVENTS DRAW PEOPLE INTO TOWN BUT WITHOUT A QUANTATATIVE WAY TO MEASURE THE ACTUAL IMPACT, IE….SPENDING…..WE DON’T REALLY KNOW IF ITS WORTH THE EXPENSE.
This month’s meeting was at the VC Conference Center and there were about 4 other “public” members there besides me. Happy to see them! The link to the entire meeting packet can be found HERE.
VCTC Executive Director Deny Dotson started by summarizing the Tourism Tax report which shows a lag of about $5k compared to budget. Since it’s only 2 months into the new budget year this isn’t a significant development for two reasons, one is that the way that they do the budget forecast is to take the entire budget and divide by 12. Therefore every months “budget” is a set number not a real estimate of revenues or expenses based on actual SEASONAL activity. The second reason not to be concerned yet is that Taxation “closes the books” on a certain date to begin their reporting and any revenues that come in past that date aren’t counted in that month…they slosh over to the next month.
Next up was the Transient Lodging Tax which is basically on target to the budget. Deny commented that the hotel build out at TRI is going VERY slowly and that he was looking forward to those revenues to help bolster the Lodging tax revenues in the future. I asked if we were getting ALL of this tax or if the current zip code issue was going to siphon off some of this revenue to Washoe County. Deny replied that no, this tax goes directly to Storey County and not to Taxation. So….we get it all.
Next up was RAD strategies who previewed a tourist engagement video which was produced by a visitor on his GoPro. It was quite good. It was noted that there are many, many such videos produced by our visitors and that it might benefit us to be able to share them across the VCTC media channels. RAD reported that both the Camel races were widely covered by media and that ESPN is also mentioning the Outhouse races (in October).
The VCTC website is in the process of getting a “refresh” to make it less crowded and easier to navigate. 60% of the hits are thru organic search, which is considered a good number this means that the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is pulling people to the site. Further analysis shows that the pages with pictures of the camels, ostriches and the wild horses are the most popular and that the horses are a real asset to the VC market due to that interest.
Liquid Blue was next with a report on the budget results for the Taste of the Comstock, Rodeo and Camel Races. Bottom-line the Rodeo and Taste lost money. Only the budget for the Taste of the Comstock was presented but there was discussion about the Rodeo and Camel Races.
Despite a promotional and organizational effort that was described as “done to perfection” the Rodeo still lost money. This is the second year running that it has done so. Despite the restructure of events, cost cutting, sponsorships and pricing strategy redo , the ticket sales were up but it still wasn’t enough to break even.
I made the statement that IF everything that could be done was done and if it was done to perfection and we still have a loss then don’t we need to do something drastically different? Pare down the event and its corresponding expenses perhaps? Deny and Liquid Blue agreed that something has to be done differently again next year and that they will strategize at an upcoming planning meeting.
The feeling about the recent Camel Races is that those revenues will come in closer to budget but all of the numbers aren’t in yet to be certain. It was noted that it looked like the shops were open later than usual due to adding the second later show and the people coming out of that show were still in town at the end of the day.
The upcoming Outhouse races budget is also designed to be a slight loss.
There was discussion about the value of these “loss leader” events….meaning that there is an assumption that as marketing events they help boost the overall revenues for VC merchants. It was noted that the Department of Taxation can’t break out the VC sales taxes in order for us to track the impact of the events. SO…..no quantitative way to tell what the full impact of these events are on VC.
Deny reported that the progress on the selection of an appraiser and its cost to appraise the fairgrounds has to go before County Manager Pat Whitten and the Storey County Commission since they will be the ones to approve the purchase. He anticipates that it will be on the next VCTC agenda at the October meeting.
Last but not least the VCTC Board voted to appoint Deny Dotson to the V&T Railway Commission Board effective October 1.