Nicole Barde

You can find the Agenda HERE and the full packet HERE.

During public comment Zach Spencer announced that Comstock Mining had received another award two weeks ago from the BLM. It was for the reclamation efforts as part of the HWY 342 repairs and the reparation of the mineshaft.

Steven Saylor from the Comstock Foundation also announced that the Foundation had received the Pioneer award for non-profit of the year from the NNDA.

Congratulations to both organizations!

I got up and made some comments regarding the multiple surveys that the VCTC had asked people to fill out in order to get inputs for the October 18thworkshop. I had to admit that they confused me….and I ran the group that designed, implemented and compiled survey results for the corporation before I retired….so I KNOW surveys. I have given this input to the VCTC before but thought I’d try again. Here is just a bit of what I said:

  • I don’t know what the objective of the survey(s) was.
  • it was confusing as to which survey to fill out
  • it asks about marketing efforts but only as they pertain to events. There is much more to marketing than events, and there is more to events than just the marketing…so what information is the survey trying to get at?
  • not all things are as important as others, not all things get done as well as others. There was no way to gather how important some of the items were compared to how well that were done. I may not care about bar crawls no matter how well they are done
  • the surveys went out electronically and not everyone gets their information online. If they were really interested in resident inputs they might have sent out a team to go door to door and randomly gather inputs.

Needless to say Deny Dotson, VCTC executive Director ,said that the surveys were OK, that they are getting lite response as usual and that the information will be used at the workshop….and thank you for your input Nicole.

SIDENOTE: You can design a survey to tell you whatever you want it to. I have gotten feedback from merchants who say exactly that and that they don’t fill them out. The survey needs to be clear as to its objective, and the questions need to focus on getting that specific information. But if the survey was only oriented around what is important to the VCTC then ….I guess they hit the mark….for them.But there also needs to be a way to determine what is and is not important to the merchants and the residents and the surveys miss that mark completely.As I said, I’ve given this input before and I’ve always offered to help design the surveys since I’ve done it for clients….maybe one day they’ll take me up on it!

The majority of the meeting was dedicated to describing the roles and responsibilities of the VCTC, RAD strategies and Liquid Blue so that the merchants could understand them fully. All in all I found it very informative and I strongly suggest that you look at their presentations.

But first the numbers. The Tourism Tax is on track with the budget and is about $8k over last year at this time. The Lodging Tax is also on track with budget but is about 2 times more than last year for the same period ( July-September). We are currently at $102k as opposed to $55k last year for the same period. This is the hotel at TRI kicking in!

On to the presentations:

In a nutshell , over time the VCTC has assumed a triple role. It is doing what a typical Chamber of Commerce, a Destination Marketing Organization and a Tourism Board usually does. Deny went over the timeline of events and what led to the current structure as a Fair and Recreation Board:

A destination organization, often referred to as a destination marketing or
management organization, convention and visitors bureau or tourism board, is responsible for promoting a community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work.

The VCTC is comprised of the following “seats” required by Resolution:

a) One member must be a current county commissioner to serve the remainder of his or her term.
b) One member to represent the motel operators in the county.
c) One member to represent the hotel operators in the county;

d) One member to represent other commercial interests in the county (including tourism or gaming and excluding lodging); and
e) One member at large.

In addition to its job in promoting VC as a destination the VCTC assumed the responsibility for creating and expanding events as a way to draw people and revenues into the town. The events grew from the simple parades, traditional Camel and Outhouse races and fireworks to everything that we have now. This includesseveral events that the VCTC does not own and are runby other people ( eg,Hot August Nights). The VCTC has hired Liquid Blue to manage its events as an external contractor.

In this structure thru both NRS and County Resolution the VCTC qualifies to get its funding thru the TourismTax and the Room tax in addition to other sources.

Deny went thru a lot of detail pertaining to the budget and the activities which are all in the presentation. He also talked about the continuing concerns aroundconflict of interest since he is an owner of RAD strategies and the rumored link to Liquid Blue.

He explained that there is NO financial or personal link whatsoever to Liquid Blue. That perception may have started since Katie Demuth, Marketing/Tourism Manager, worked for RAD strategies and then worked for Liquid Blue before coming to work for the VCTC.

He also stated that when he entered into his personal relationship with his soon to be wife ( RAD Strategies) that he disclosed it to both the County manager and the ethics committee. That he has never been a part of any negotiations with RAD, that Hugh Gallagher the Comptroller does that.

He was asked who he reported to andto whom was he accountable. His response was that he reports to Pat Whiten and the Commission NOT the VCTC board of directors.

SIDENOTE: I find that odd….then why have a Board of Directors?

Next up was RAD Strategies with an extensive presentation on their activities which definitely shows how much improvement there has been in the promotional and social media activities for the town.

In a nutshell RAD is responsible for:

-Story Telling

  • Under the Surface Videos
  • Photos

-Design and the look and feel of everything that promotes VC and thatis a VCTC “product”

  • VC Brand must be unique
  • Brochures, websites, advertising and promotional pieces
  • Pipers
  • Cemetery Gin

-Stocks visitor kiosks with VC brochures

-Designs and maintains the VCTC Website

-All advertising, promotion and Marketing

  • print media
  • outdoor billboards
  • radio and TV
  • social media
  • events

-Media Relations

RAD also created the “history walking tour” feature on the Mobile App. A visitor can stand outside a building and get an audio snippet of its history.

Alexia Sober asked if RAD and the VCTC decided on the VC branding alone or if they got inputs and Deny said that the team and the Board decided.

Next up was Liquid Blue. They not only handle the events for VCTC in VC but alsohave over 20 events all thru the area includingThe Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance which is their branded event.

Events is what they specialize in .

They assumed responsibility for managing the majority of the VC events for VCTC in 2013. Since then they have added several new events to the VC roster from 6 in 2013 to 15 in 2018.

They have improved the events over time to increase attendance and bring more people into VC as well as to either lose less money or make money.

SomeEvent Growth over time:

Father Daughter Day & Dance

2015 – Revenue $2,324 Expense $4,334

Now – Revenue $11,600 Expense $7,575

Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry
2013 – Revenue $28,400 Expense $20,600

Now – Revenue $45,900 Expense $32,500

Chili on Comstock
2013 – Revenue $34,000 Expense $39,900

Now – Revenue $48,300 Expense $28,700

International Camel & Ostrich Races
2012 – Revenue $90,400 Expense $88,400 Now – Revenue $188,900 Expense $129,400

Next up was the Coalition report by Alexia Sober. She said that at the Monday night meeting they discussed their mission statement and did some work to prepare for the October 18throundtable meeting. They still need to define who and what they are as a Coalition which includes residents as well as merchants. They would like a role in the decision making of the VCTC activities and will work towards that end.

Next up was the appraisal for the Fairgrounds which came in at around $700k. Deny said that the only question now is where is the money going to come from? He also said that there is a possibility of a low interest loan from the County to the VCTC to purchase it.

SIDENOTE: I know that government accounting is a horse of a different color and a thing of mystery but won’t the county own it regardless? Opposed as I am to the county being in the real estate business why go thru the sham of giving the VCTC a loan? I would think that the county could “lease” the fairgrounds to the VCTC instead of doing a loan. But hey….

It was a long meeting…..







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