HOW HAS GOING FROM A VCTC BUDGET OF $497K IN 2010 TO A BUDGET OF $1.4 MILLION TODAY HELPED THE FINANCIALS OF THE TOWN’S BUSINESSES?
IS IT TRUE THAT ONLY THE BARS HAVE BEEN DOING WELL AND THAT THE REST OF THE BUSINESSES ARE DOING LESS WELL OVER THAT TIME SPAN?
IS VC AN EVENT ONLY, DAY TRIP, WEEK-END, SHORT SEASON DESTINATION….OR DOES IT HAVE THE ABILITY TO BECOME A MULTIPLE NIGHT STAY, YEAR ROUND DESTINATION?
WOULD HAVING THE “BONANZA” REPLICATED IN VC BRING AND KEEP PEOPLE IN VC FOR A FEW DAYS THEREBY INCREASING REVENUES?
PIPERS IS BEING PROMOTED AS A PERFORMING ARTS CENTER!!
By Nicole Barde
You can find the agenda packet HERE.
Executive Director Deny Dotson opened the meeting by saying that he had read the Top 3 Issues document that the Merchant Coalition had submitted to the Board. He had been on vacation when it was discussed but said that the P.A. system for the other end of town is being looked at and that the Docent program is still “in play” and that he would like to meet and give a full overview to the merchants of what had been done in the past, which includes the airport as well as numerous other activities on a state level.
During Public comment, Steve Saylor updated the group on the status of the Donovan Mill work. It is moving along nicely and they can give tours to foundation members. There is a lecture series kicking off at the Gold Hill Hotel which will talk about St. Mary of the Mountain’s cornerstone 150 years later ( August 9) and the VC Camel Freight Business ( August 16th)
Alexia Sober, Canvas Cafe, noted that it was a great weekend for Hot August Nights.
Jim Ward, Grandmas fudge, gave the report for the Merchant Coalition.
Jim reported that the Coalition is moving forward with re-starting the Docent program and said that they can run it but would need a bit of help from the VCTC. He said that the Docents will need training on the correct history of the town in order to avoid the historical inaccuracies of the past. Deny agreed that the VCTC would help in any way needed.
Someone suggested contacting the 601’s to participate. They are always impeccably dressed, always in town and always willing to help. The use of “did you know” cards was also brought up as a way to help the Docents convey the fun facts of VC as they engage the visitors.
Alexia noted that the “ball is in your court” to the Board and that the merchants were waiting for a response to the top 3 issues proposals.
Alexia then updated the Board on the petition that is being circulated by the owner of the Reflections shop asking for 4 items to be done by the Board ( 3 of the 4 are already in the top 3 issues). Alexia said that the Merchant Coalition IS NOT in support of the petition and has distanced itself from it.
The ¼ cent sales tax numbers are up $91k over last year at this time and the Transient Lodging Tax is also up over last year at this time by about $24k.
Deny gave a brief update on the VCTC fund balance and budget by comparing it to what it was in 2010 when he took over. He noted that lots of new events have been added to bring people into the town, more and different types of advertising and promotion has been engaged and that all in all more people are coming to the town. Below is a breakdown.
|Ending fund balance||$611k||$350k*|
* after the purchase of Black and Howell and fairgrounds seating
SIDENOTE– There is no doubt that the VCTC has increased their activities with regard to bringing people into town as well as migrating the promotional activities onto social media and the increase in budget shows that.
But, as I have been saying for years unless these activities can be shown to positively impact the overall financial health of all of the town’s businesses then we may be missing the mark. It would be interesting to see what the ¼ cent sales tax has done for the town over the same period as well as the overall sales tax. Maybe Deny can plot this over the same period and present it at a future meeting.
Altho the Department of taxation can’t break out the town’s sales taxes from the rest of the county, I have seen what they DO report and it does list sales taxes by category for the county.
Assuming for a minute that the majority of merchant sales are in VC for most of the last 8 years if all that gets done is to look at whatever the relevant category is ( ie merchant sales) and plot it year over year …the trend line would give an indication of overall impact to VC.
I also think that breaking out the food/beverage/bar numbers from the report and comparing them would also be telling. I keep hearing that the bars ALWAYS do great but that the merchandise not so much. It could be a scenario that the ¼ cent sales tax has been going up but that when you break out merchandise from bars that it’s the bars that are increasing.
This would be a good way to confirm or dispel the feeling that only the bars are making out.
It just takes a bit of digging to actually see if all of this new activity by the VCTC has had a significant or incremental impact.
But I digress….
RAD Strategies did an update of the VCTC website revision HERE. I must say that it is beautiful. Very well done. It seemed that the merchants in the room didn’t know how much was on the website. There are active links to all of the businesses in town, there is the ability of the merchants to put an event onto the website and lots more. This might be a topic for one of the upcoming Merchant Coalition meetings!
Tim, the golf cart transportation operator, noted that there used to be lots of visual advertising in the form of billboards and now they are mostly gone. He said that in his conversations with people he drives around that they didn’t know about VC and just happened to come in. …..these are people from the local area ( perhaps recently moved here due to all of the hiring at TRIC)..He suggested adding more billboards so that newcomers can SEE that there are things in VC….
Alexia, Canvas Cafe, noted that she and Richard had sponsored a mobile radio remote show with 100.1 FM for 5 hours this month and that it got all kinds of visibility and that people have started to come in as a result of that promotion. Perhaps RAD adding more of these types of promotions would be fruitful.
One of the things that RAD highlighted in their website review was the link to the upcoming events for the Rodeo on the 18th and 19th of August. And I have to share this cute as all get out picture for the “Little Charro Event”
Next up I presented a summary of some work that I did with hoteliers in 2014. At that time there were several of the lodging establishments which were closing and the overall room nights were declining which was an issue for all of the properties and the merchants as well since research shows that multiple room nights equal more revenue for the town.
Chris Echin, B street B and B, put together an expansive presentation to the VCTC at that time HERE and I offered to help. A group representing the major properties and B and Bs met over two months to brainstorm how to increase room nights in VC.
I wanted to restart that conversation with the VCTC Board by reviewing what had been done and the ideas that were generated at that time. You can, and SHOULD, read the detail of the brainstorming HERE, and can read the presentation which I made HERE.
Net-Net…..in order to increase room nights there needs to be more for people to do and see in the day but especially at night and especially for families. It’s chicken or egg…..merchants and establishments won’t stay open if there are no people, people won’t stay if they aren’t open.
Additionally, if we did a survey of the types of businesses that we have in VC and then did an analysis of what types of businesses would attract and keep people in town….the town could actively recruit those types of business to locate there…JUST LIKE TRI DOES IT ( ie, a spa, zip line, more restaurants, etc)
Lastly, the brainstorming group suggested that we bring the Ponderosa and “Bonanza” into Virginia City. The actual set is around here somewhere according to Jim Clark.
The historical purists have opposed doing this for decades because it is not “real” history. And yet….to this day people still ask where it is and where they can they go see it. It IS part of popular history and we are missing a huge opportunity if we don’t bring it here. It would be a huge draw.
This is not an original idea….there have been several proposals made to the VCTC to do this and nothing gets moving. This is a spectacular business opportunity for someone who wants to start it.
During the Events summary Deny said that Hot August Nights was a great success according to all reports. The final numbers will come in next month. Deny did note that there are not enough restaurants to feed people and the waiting lines were long.
Alexia Sober noted that people didn’t know what was open or where to go on Friday night before the start of the event and that the Canvas was empty. That maybe handing out a map with just the restaurants on it and times that they are open would help.
Whitney Brunson gave an update on the Pipers website….which is nothing short of spectacular…you can see it HERE….I mean ….look at the use of color!!!
It is now ” Pipers Opera House Performing Arts Center”! I am SO happy to see this change from just being a venue to “performing arts”.
She absolutely LOVES Pipers and it shows in how it is being promoted, in the types of events she schedules, in the flexibility of the tours….we finally have Pipers looking like the resource that she is.
Now, hopefully, we can get the fundraising momentum going to do the restoration that she needs.
Bravo Whitney and thank you!
Deny gave an update on what his duties are and they are expansive. He also gave an update on what he learned from other Tourism agencies in Europe while he was there during his vacation.