7.12.12 – WTA July Board Meeting

WTA BOARD MEETING

July 12, 2012

10:00 am – 3:00 p

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

In attendance  Jane Kilburn, Kevin Clark, George Sharp, Darrell Bryan, , Donna Cappa, Diane Schostak, Monique Trudnowski, Andy Olsen, , Christina Pivarnik, Jennifer Leavitt, John Cedergreen

Staff   Suzanne Fletcher, Monica Hinckley, Kathryn Hedrick

Call in George Schweitzer, Dan Moore, David Bauermeister

Absent Karen Stebbins, Cara Egan, Cheryl Kilday,  Brett Wilkerson, George Schweitzer, John Bookwalter, Kim Bennett , John Cooper

        I.            CALL TO ORDER

Meeting was called to order 10:31am by Kevin Clark

      II.            MINUTES REVIEWED AND APPROVED

Monique moved to approve the June minutes. Kevin seconded, and motion passed.

    III.            FINANCE REPORT

Revised budget (attached)

  1. The Executive Committee has reviewed and vetted this revised budget at their last meeting
  2. Changes that we made to the budget were necessary because revenues are not coming in as quickly as hoped. Re-evaluated the corporate investors, reviewed and reduced a number of expenses.
  3. We reduced the amount of higher level partnerships and also reduced the lower level partnerships and we also considerably reduced the expenses going forward
  4. We are currently running at a negative — almost 100K
  5. Partner level income: This is just representing the 2nd have of the year – not all of the founding partners in total. We are only anticipating that 4 partners will not renew. So far, one founding partner has declined to come back: Destination Media.
  6. The website expenses will continue through to the end of the year. Cheryl has specifically requested that we do not alter this line item
  7. We are projecting about a 98K shortfall which is about 12% of the budget. The budget now is about 55% of original budget.
  8. We need to focus on the bridge money even if we are successful in our LTF, we will not see revenue until September 2013, or possibly even September 2014.
  9. The key assets that we have are: Website, Logo, Tourism Guide, continued presence at PowWow and NTA, The lights are on and the world is watching, The Visitors’ Guide and website are the only known assets to the world. All the other work that’s taking place the behind-the-scenes the hours that are dedicated and spend on the different committees, are not. Hopefully, this website is something that we can tout to brag about your region.Dean Runyon $25K– We are not committed, and will decide if we want to order it again in October. Right now, the main thing is to get revenue and get members. We already have the data.  If we pull out the 35K for market research it would really help the 40K shortfall.We have already decided not to spend the $9,300 on STR, the DMO’s should pay for it if they want it. This was something that WA State tourism office provided by the state, and now we are taking it away, even though we are asking for money. Maybe this doesn’t come up with membership discussions, and nobody seems to need it, but we need to be cognitive that this is what people are anticipating. People are looking for what money we are putting in to promoting the state – rather than getting data. They want to know how we are getting “heads in beds”, and “butts and feet on the street”.

Maybe this consulting money needs to be spent on people who do data research and help build models to be able to roll out this information to industries as to how the assessment model would work.

  1. We could get some PhD type to help us with disseminating how an assessment model could work in various industries to be able to sell that to the industries as well as the legislature.
  2. Darryl chaired a group that had a UW grad student from the Evans School put together a very thorough piece of research. Perhaps Central WA’s hotel program could have a graduate student or team do this.
  3. Kevin has worked with the students at the Business and Economic Development Council at the UW, and is stunned at the amount of data and information they are able to pull in. And it’s all there for the taking because they are part of the university. They do surveys and pull in data. Instead of handing a theoretical piece of the pie to the restaurant people and allowing them to figure out how to slice it up, we can give them some suggestions.
  4. There are also state economists that give the DMO’s information that is part of the EDC of the state.
  5. Ascentium agreement is maintain the website at $5,700 per month and then additional charges to fix anything that breaks — which happens every time we touch it. Therefore, we are not adding anything to it, including advertising, which was where we had hoped to receive some financial benefits.

Website The Committee sent out a request for RFP, there are 8 submissions, and 4 are set for final review on Monday. We hope to have a recommendation on Thursday. 2 local firms, 2 national firms (one of whom does 16 other state’s websites). Build out time would be January 1, 2013. We pay Ancentium month-to-monthThe costs will be greatly reduced, coming in around 100-180K. This is an absolute complete overhaul (i.e. not starting from scratch), and then we are handed the reins to move forward. We had 4 or 5 experts come and give us information on what our proposal should look like, and it is fairly middle of the range (95K-150K) so we can migrate what’s on there to a new platform. We have a pretty robust site, and we also want to have the ability to grow and to generate revenue. It will be dynamic from the standpoint of being able to drill down to see all the information from all over the state, having links that members can pay for, and calendars, and also compatible for cell phone use. It also has to be traveler friendly, and have people want to pay to be on the site. The CRM aspects are important to, so members can pay to have access options to be able to purchase tickets, update their calendar. The biggest cost right now is that the platforms in the back are all proprietary to Ascentium, but it will not be going forward – we will be able to own everything. This 150,000 is not in our 2012 budget. It is in the 2013 budget. There is a development line and a maintenance line. A lot of the firms were willing to take the second part and move it to next year.

    IV.            SOCIAL MEDIA (Dan Moore)

The marketing committee assigned Dan the duty of figuring out opportunities for mobile apps for the WTA. One option that rose to the top is Yodio Tours. They have their own app. (free) that takes users content such as people upload their own walking tours. They raise money through sponsors, who are various people that are encountered in the locations of where the apps take place. They are ready with a WTA app that already exists, and could be used right now on an android. For Apple, it will take about seven days to approve.

  1. The purpose of this app is because people are increasing using mobile technology right up to the last minutes when they are travelling. This is an opportunity for the WTA to get in this market right away and the big advantage is that this would be a revenue model for us. (It pinpoints businesses on a map within a geographic location within the state.)
  2. The one hurdle is that we are not ready to go with content. So this would be an opportunity to reach out to our various members to get content. It would be a series of walking tours for an area, then sponsors post their business, and then there is also regular normal advertising. Content from the regions being loaded by the DMO’s and chambers that they do themselves. This was the one app that is the furthest along, and comes with practically no expense to the WTA. This one rose to the top b/c of the immediacy of getting it stated.
  3. Disadvantage is that any time you go into partnership with someone else, you have to see fine points, i.e. how much is the revenue share, when our website is re-done, will we have offers for other apps
  4. Yodio is also working with Chicago in regards to the convention arena, so you can download an app that is specific for your convention with daily events, sponsorship of those in the exhibition hall, suggestions for spouse/family you might be accompanying you, places to eat, tap your phone and get business card scanned, etc.
  5. Revenue share would be split down the middle.
  6. Another advantage is that the new ADA requirements require businesses to provide for site/hearing impaired come January. Currently, the operator has to provide an interpreter ($80). You can download it on an ipad and could then give a hearing impaired person the ipad.
  7. This could also help people who want to become members.
  8. Let’s continue to press Clay on as much information as you can. We could have two different rates (member rate about $20 a month) one for non-members could be 2-3 times expensive.  So this could be another way to loop in people who are on the peripheral who think they are not in tourism. Clay’s projection is that it could be as much as $20K a month in revenue. This wouldn’t be the case starting Day One, but if you look at state-wide, then it really could be a good revenue source.
  9. There is also a lot of data that is collected that the WTA can use, and share with sponsors.
  10. It is easy to get an app up, but can be hard to convince people to use it. We need to find a way to have ALL content come in to one place and then other people pull from that one source, so we are not loaded information from all over the place. Data collection process is something to be wary of.
  11. Social media is not free, it’s how to we get people to find you and how do you tell people about the app? There are SO many apps out there – it can be hard to find a value to convince them to download the app.
  12. Can we control the quality and quantity of the information? IF each community tries to go in and do their own app, it will get really messy quickly. If this is the app for the entire state of WA, then it will very quickly become very useable, and become one of the top apps. A shop, for instance, could produce their own tour of Port Townsend, and add all of the interesting things, and just introduce it by saying, I am Mr. Smith and these are my favorite places.
  13. We have to be cautious on how we control the quality and quantity. And — how do we manage the app? We have to own the back end so that we are sure we have the proprietary stuff.
  14. Christina is actually working on an app that we have federal grant funding for a Nat’l Trust for Historic Preservation. Which app do I go with? Do I go with this new WTA app, or continue on with the one we have now? Can we have one app that encompasses everything?
  15. Clay feels like interns could get all the content for us.  But also, there’s already tons of content being produced, so we just need to get it all in one place. The grant can help to get the content, and then you put it on this app.
  16. In NYC, there are 44 new apps just related to transit. It’s good to have four apps rather than one, because that competition could make them all robust.
  17. All content is immediate; there is no delay in making changes or editing content.
  18. We’d have to assign administrators. It can be similar to the youtube-type scenario. Anybody can create their own content, (but we can limit it to members), so more and more people will participate, and then more people will use it. It operates like a blog, you can approve everything, or you have certain thresholds.
  19. It’s a GPS based technology, so you open it up and it will show what is only in your area. And it also works without GPS, so you can use the app if you are not there yet to plan in advance.
  20. Might not have to worry about it in the short term, but as we become more robust, we whave more administrators. Interns were to assist the local regions and communities in taking photos and construct scripts to create content b/c they are the younger hipper crowds.
  21. Dan will take some time to meet with the web committee, then outline the proposal more thoroughly for the executive committee.

      V.            FUNDRAISING

Membership Renewal

  1. March: 1 out of 4, April: 32 out of 71, May: 4 out of 14, June:  1 out of 17
  2. Invoices did not go out in March; April’s went out very late because we were working on the renewal letter that would go out with them, updating everyone on the WTA’s progress. Most have come in at the same level, except some are still sticking the original $300 basic membership level. DMA had come in as a founding partner at $5000, but is now a basic member at $500.
  3. We are now current on renewals, and going forward they will be on time.
  4. We will start sending out “past due” notices, (but just as another statement, not as an overdue notice) and the membership committee is working on contacting all of our members. Maybe the follow-up letter should be: Your continued support is important for re-vamping the website, keeping up with our social media, and to continue to participate in the official tourism guide.
  5. Acknowledging their renewal is very important. A thank you note should go out to everyone not just the over $5K members. George will look into a window cling partnership. Board members could write notes.
  6. Members can give discounts to one another.
  7. Should we offer a 10% discount if you renew for 2 years? Perhaps not, there is a hope that this is just bridge funding, and that this type of support won’t be necessary.

Top 30

  1. Suzanne sent out request for top-30 from board members. Have received from Darryl, Kevin, John B., John C., Christina, Donna (who sent 18), and Kim, Jane, David and Cheryl acknowledge that they didn’t have names to send by did reply which is a big help.
  2. Everyone has been contacted.
  3. If we can cross-reference it will be a greater impact, and will be harder to say no if we are lumped together.
  4. The Windermere broker that Christina had suggested acknowledged that Mike has called and mentioned how she enjoyed talking to him, and appreciated how it was handled,
  5. Have now segmented out the different sectors and who would be a primary in that particular sector, and how to approach each sector.
  6. Met with Donna on what would really resonate with her group, so if anyone would like to participate in a dry run with Mike and Suzanne let us know.
  7. Getting in the door has been considerably more difficult than we thought so we want to make sure our one time would work.
  8. Is there someone else within our organization to make the pitch to? This might be a more objective process.  Suzanne is doing the pitch to Stephanie Bittner of Nordstrom’s.
  9. Sometimes we over analyze with data. Darryl took photos of Canadians getting on board with their Marcy’s and Nordstrom’s bag. Starbucks has lines of folks standing outside their original store. This is a good way to show them how tourism matters.

Business Development

  1. Mike and Suzanne are using salesforce.com ($800/month), a tool to manage your call reports. Every time a call is made, or an e-mail is sent don, it’s logged.
  2. Costs $800 per month
  3. Mike averaging 60 calls a week, got 4 appointments. The average is 15-20 calls to get an appointment, and then 8 communications past the appointment to get a yes or no.
  4. The Level Up! campaign started at the start of the month to entice members to bring in their membership. We’ve had one response so far.
  5. Also did an individual members outreach – sent them all an e-mail asking if their employer is a member and then encouraging them to get their employer on board.

OFFICE INFORMATION

  1. We are sub-leasing 2 desks through November from a design firm; 1/3 is an IT company, 1/3 is the design team.
  2. There are two conference facilities available, but no validation for parking.
  3. New address: 1525 Fourth Avenue, Suite 601, Seattle 98109, and PO Box 953, Settle 98111.

SMITH TRAVEL RESEARCH

  1. We did ask for a discount but they were not willing to reduce the fees
  2. Questionairre went out with 9 responses; 2 members rated it 4-5, and 7 came back saying 1-2, so decided that since it’s so similar to the Dean Runyon we will not get it.
  3. The DMO’s all believe that it’s very important for them. But now our thinking is if they want it they can help buy it because we are not in the financial position to puchase it. It’s not necessarily why they have become members.
  4. The WTA gets a different report from what SVCB gets. It’s done by county and is state-wide.

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE UPDATE (See attached document)

  1. We have come up with tools to help give the board systems they need to start getting in touch with our stakeholders.
  2. We would like everyone to start on Monday and get done by the 31st and have board call or e-mail everyone on their list before the 1st of July.
  3. The membership committee members are assigned to each board member to give assistance. The membership retention calls will keep members active and occupied.
  4. New members should be recognized in the executive director newsletter.
  5. The call is a thank you, to say you’re their rep, here’s my info, to establish a monthly communication. This is not a sales call!
  6. The attached sheets have sample questions. And remember to refer to the primary talking points.
  7. After the call send a quick e-mail to Mike and cc Monica to let them know.
  8. After a new member joins, they will receive a welcome e-mail from the welcome committee. Suzanne will send out new members in her newsletter.
  9. Call everyone, if people have already paid say thank you, if they haven’t remind them of renewals. This will be a monthly communication from us to our member. When we call, start off by listening to them, before we start talking to them about the WTA. See what their needs and perceptions are first.
  10. Check with Monica or Mike to see if people have paid or not since you received this list.
  11. Some listings do not have complete information, send that to Mike or Monica and we will get the information.
  12. If folks paid $300 instead of the new $500 rate, they will not get any push back from us to re-up their membership.
  13. Questions from Membership Committee to Board:

i.      How often do you want your membership committee rep to communicate with you? Once a month, through e-mail.

ii.      What’s in it for me? The answers for that are in our long-term funding one sheets. We’ve continued the website and it is still up and running, we have a call center, and have created a Facebook for consumers. Any business can go on there and post for themselves. We’ve also continued WA State Visitor’s Guide. This is what we are using our membership funds for.

                                                            iii.      We will we have membership post long term funding? This is a bit of a negative because we are hoping that this will not continue.

  1. The state was supposed to send out an e-mail to their list of operators that Tammy met with at every PowWow. George will follow up with Tammy to see about this list.

iv.      There is also a consumer list of e-mails, and they were to send out the last-op in last week. Jeff at Saga City has the list of those who have opted in.

v.      We need to start our own consumer newsletter from the state, and people can pay to be on that if they want to be a featured story.

Nominating Committee

  1. Currently working on building a slate of candidates,
  2. One person came up from announcement on newsletter,
  3. We also have supplied other names of recommendations of folks in the industry

Web Committee

  1. RFP’s went out, 8 submitted, 4 in the finals,
  2. Hearing the 4 next Thursday, and then we will have vendor of choice (voc).

Future Board Dates

  1. Candidate’s Forum

We will have an August 9th board meeting because Inslee will be there.

We will have specific questions can be given to them – but not in advance.

We want to ask them their philosophy of tourism as economic development and give them both the same questions.

They have both said they support tourism, so we now need to get their buy-in to the WTA.

We will also need to schedule it as a board meeting.

It would be most convenient for them would be downtown Seattle; Kevin will look at contacting law offices to use their conference rooms.

Retreat

  1. The November board meeting will be a retreat
  2. Have sent out rfp’s to see if anyone wants to bid on the retreat. They must be a WTA member

    VI.            LONG TERM FUNDING

Bogard and Johnson was hired in June to advise the WTA to develop a proposal (PowerPoint presentation attached)

  1. We have Spokane and Tacoma scheduled, and are still working on how we are grouping the rest
  2. This is a first step in identifying and working with the DMO’s to explain what we’re thinking about and to get feedback. This is not to go out and talk to a whole audience. The next step would be looking at our regional representatives on the WTA board, or the industry representatives, and then finding different folks to talk to.
  3. However, any time that you have a reservation in the region, you should ask a tribal rep. to attend. They think of themselves as a DMO’s so they should always be at this first step. They are very active in representing tourism, and will be contributing, so it does not make sense to not including them just because they are not part of the assessment model, nor a DMO.
  4. The DMO’s should be inviting just a few representatives of the industry sectors – not everyone. This is a focus group to share the initial plan, and get feedback. We just want “team leaders” from each industry sector. After getting feedback, we’ll then have a different strategy for the sectors.
  5. Some of the things that surfaced in the Vancouver meeting:

i.      Up the level of communication –we need to let them know we’re a bridge organizing, and that we are going to be a marketing organization but not until we get this funding.

ii.      Concern over Seattle centricity – we let them know we are working on getting tourists to the state, the rest is up to them.

iii.      Added a slide to the power point which shows the total revenue for all 5 sectors, how many dollars they bring into the state, and the percentage related to tourism.

iv.      These meetings are to involve the DMO’s who have a good reach into the industries (we missed Gray’s Harbor) and that we’re not excluding anybody. They should it be more like the regional meetings that Suzanne did as opposed to what we did. You can’t have 5 breakouts if you have only 15 people. Would rather have greater communication and greater input.

v.      It’s a difficult time of year because this is everyone’s peak season.

  1. Whoever speaks about this, needs to know our numbers. Andy will send out this spreadsheet that lists all the industries involved in the 5 sectors, how many businesses there are and how much they generate by sector. Then columns of businesses that generate over 1M, and what percentage of tourism related business they do. We still need to have a third party present during the hearings to show that these numbers will work. Have to get the buy-in from the various sectors so that when there is a vote they are aware of it and will support it.
  2. The budget will grow by adding sectors, and with inflation built into the legislation.
  3. There are assessment options as handouts with a big DRAFT written across them.

  VII.            GOOD OF THE ORDER

George’s committee report will come later.

VIII.            Meeting was adjourned at 3:03.