By Tommy Acosta
At its April 12 meeting the Sedona City council agreed by consensus to direct staff to hire a consultant to assist the city in forming its own “in house” destination marketing and management program.
Say what? Wait!
The City of Sedona, which has over the last few years done just about everything it could to stop the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau from destination marketing, now has to participate in the marketing effort as well. I was going to write a straight-ahead news article on this but the sardonicism of it all was just too irresistible. Thus, this editorial.
Talk about irony.
One would think with a council mostly elected by Sedona citizens hoping to limit the number of tourists coming to Sedona that the council would think twice before plowing into the business of bringing more tourists to this city.
They could think twice, three times or a hundred but the council is bound by law to spend a sizable chunk of the millions collected from its bed tax imposition, on the very thing they had tried to stifle over the last few years. And there is nothing they can do about it.
Business owners are turning cartwheels and waving pompoms at the prospect. Not only does Sedona have one proven entity promoting tourism but now will have two.
Imagine the chagrin, disappointment and frustration of locals that hoped the new council would take action to limit tourism but instead their representatives are now forced to work to increase it.
All those years of the city holding back that .5 percent of the bed taxes collected that right fully should have been released to the chamber, has fattened the city coffers by millions and now it’s going to have to spend the dough on tourism and tourism enhancing projects. How embarrassing. Someone should have thought this through before giving the chamber no choice but to disengage. The city’s actions have galvanized the chamber and local businesses that are banding together to further promote Sedona and Verde Valley.
With no prior experience in marketing the city is going to have to call in consultants, hire staff, build websites, create a budget and meet the standards set by the Arizona Office of Tourism to maintain the Destination Marketing Organization distinction.
Who knows how long it’s going to take or how much it’s going to cost. But they are flush with money so funding should not be a problem.
Again, the irony of these events is stunning. From micromanaging the chamber and doing what it could do to stifle destination marketing, the council now has become its champion, by no choice of their own.
There’s an old saying I always liked that goes like this: “Multiply, don’t divide. Add, don’t subtract.”
Looks like Sedona destination marketing will be multiplying and adding even more resources to bring even more tourists to this little Red Rock town.
The Chamber of Commerce fired the city. You ask why,the city really doesn’t want to do destinations marketing.
Councel was never honest with the community. It said it wanted to market, but then would never approve anything. The job at the chamber is to promote business and the well-being of the business community. It was time to MoveOn.
Perhaps I went to a different meeting on Wednesday but it was my understanding the chamber filed for divorce from the town so I would expect the town to move on. I feel bad to the people that work for the chamber now that they will run out of cash since they cut ties with the town. 1 interesting point that I heard was that the council wanted to promote all businesses on their website instead of how the chamber has been doing it, that sounds more inclusive to me.
So just like I said….The city would advertise, or get a PR firm. The Chamber will advertise for its members, and the Hotels will also advertise. A blind man should have seen that coming!
Public money funding requires any vendor to FOLLOW public policy and complete the service they were hired for.
You act as if it was chamber members dues paying for this. Well it wasn’t.
What I heard at the meeting is that the chamber members weren’t in tourism and that the chambers board refused to complete the outlined services as a vendor hired by city to do.
Sorry, but this is confusing and very misleading.
Businesses are in business for business and pay for their own marketing. This is why they form trade associations like a chamber. Chamber markets its members, Businesses.
Destinations aren’t businesses.
The City of Sedona is the Offical seat at the State for the Destination, Sedona. The decisions on Tourism are made at the Local level, by Sedona City Council. Destination Management & Marketing is a city function. The marketing term includes much more than marketing under the law like Tourism Planning & Management, Infrastructure,, repairs, maintenance, Traffic management caused form tourism, Programs, Grants including Arts, Performances, Culture, Festivals,
Events, Parking, Tourism Transportation for a destination.
It is really time for Sedona to move forward.
Contrary to one commenter: the Chamber of Commerce cut ties on April 5th with the City Council, not the other way around. The City has funded over 85% of the total amount of spend by the Chamber in the last FY. So, it is quite disingenuous to say anything else. The City Council asked for QUANTITATIVE measures of success for our citizens’ $’s for marketing and the Chamber simply refused time-after-time to do so, then pulled the rip cord.
It will be interesting to see how things go moving forward… the City of Sedona taking over the DMO activities as and the Chamber focusing on their clients: the businesses, many of which no longer have their headquarters in Sedona.
From a distance, this seems like a total cluster. It’s hard to believe the two entities couldn’t avoid duplication of effort.
No Buddy its 3. The hotel association decided to advertise on their own also. This was a few months back.
It’s about what kind of tourists to attract, not stopping tourism. And the city is more likely to invest the money in educating tourists to be good tourists. Much better than the Chamber’s goals.
There are a few fallacies and/or misunderstandings in Tommy’s article. First is the concept that the bed tax funds belonged to the Chamber “by rights.” Regardless of any agreements that were made when the tax was enacted, the state attorney general ruled definitively that the Chamber did not and does not have “rights” to these funds. After that ruling, the city attorney acknowledged that this old deal was in violation of the Arizona Constitution gifting clause and the old agreement was voided. The bed tax funds are, were and always will be tax funds that are public funds and they do not belong to the Chamber. They belong to the city and the city must take action to allocate them, not simply hand them over to the Chamber. The law is clear and the AG’s ruling is clear.
Also, as other posters have pointed out, the city’s tourism spending does not have to be spent on marketing. The law makes it clear that the definition of “promoting” tourism can include many things other than marketing, such as spending money on facilities or other activities that support tourism (not necessarily marketing for more tourism).
One of the many reasons that Sedona residents lost trust in the Chamber, perhaps the biggest reason, was the constant hemming, hawing and avoidance of the creation of a contract that included clear deliverables that were aligned with residents’ and the council’s wishes. The world changed, public sentiment changed and the Chamber simply refused to change its ways to accommodate that. They have no one to blame but themselves.
I will never forget the council meeting where the former Chamber CEO refused to detail her marketing program at the council’s request because she said the information was “proprietary.” First of all, it cannot be secret — those funds are public funds, and the operations of the program funded by tax monies cannot be kept secret. More important, the notion that the Chamber wanted to “protect” the “secrecy” of their marketing program is ludicrous on the face of it. Protect your magic marketing secrets …why? From whom? To prevent other competing marketing agencies from also promoting Sedona tourism, thereby doing even more marketing that would benefit the Chamber members? Because the Sedona Chamber of Commerce holds the key to magic marketing knowledge unknown anywhere else in the world? Oh, please. That statement didn’t make a doggone lick of sense and was, for me, a perfect example of the gaslighting we’ve all heard from the Chamber for so many years.
The mystery, for me, is how the Chamber could be so arrogant and blind as to be completely unable to read the writing on the wall in the last election. If they weren’t so unyielding and greedy, they could have come up with a new plan and forged a new contract with the city. The world is changing and they simply refused to change with it.
A Chamber marketing a city is not the norm. Flagstaff handles its own marketing and so does Cottonwood. The Chamber is a regional chamber getting the majority of the funding from a city and marketing outside city businesses. The Sedona visitors center was paid for by the city! The Chamber instead marketed their own members not in city businesses.
There is no other Chamber in this country that is regional and takes city money. This was a misuse of public funds. The Chamber stated to the city they didn’t have room in the visitors center to market anyone except their members.