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Here’s The Scoop … The Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Ad Hoc Marketing “Group” Continues On Out Of The Sunshine In 2012 …

IT’S LIKE GROUPON IN LBTS….

Dear Readers …. The LBTS Ad Hoc Marketing Group is continuing on in 2012 but still not as an advisory committee subject to public notice of all meetings to taxpayers … Today was the meeting on the “Festival by the Sea” set to take place next summer …It was put in motion by the commission in a 3-2 vote (Sasser/Dodd voted against) without any prior knowledge of the group  including its participants …(prev. posts) … The original plan was a Caribbean Night party to follow the Chamber’s Taste of the Beach in Feb. but that unraveled soon after the $6,000 vote…This writer posted the minutes from the meetings before it was brought to the commission and found the decision to use taxpayer monies came from a very small “group”…In my opinion the presentation made by the new Asst. To the Town Manager made it appear quite different than that… Now it’s on to summer 2012 and events that include the hotels and retailers and 3-day at a time events…(down from the original 4 slated in Feb.) …It appears the group will be asking the hotels and retailers to assist by way of offering some major discounts as well as aiding in the advertising costs …One LBTS hotelier, Arthur Franczak has already commented on it in the following email to this writer…
“As I said earlier I am not discounting my rooms 20-40 percent and selling rooms at even greater loss in June just so that Connie can
claim success. Plus I do not understand why our marketing department at the town hall cannot sell rooms without discounting by that much. I can sell by discounting and at a loss too without the town’s help and town spending taxpayer money on this event. If they cannot sell our rooms without discounting then we should add the cost of this discount to the cost of the marketing director
position. Plus is not the town complaining that our room rates are too low and we should raise them but the town’s best idea to drive
occupancy is to lower rates by 20-40 percent? Plus we are told that we should raise rates 50 cents per room (even unoccupied one) to pay for the sewer rate increase, and then discount them 20-40 percent just so this event can happen? Nuts!”

I have to agree!..It sounds like a Groupon-type move in this writer’s opinion…By that I mean that I have read in the news as well as  personally hearing from vendors or business people about many smaller type businesses that have participated in deep percentage discounts (coupons) to get an influx of business as promised only to find out in the end that they took a major hit financially all in the hopes of getting repeat business …only to find it was a one-time only deal for those buyers who took advantage of the deep discounts and they were already on to the next deep discounts offered up elsewhere not willing to pony up the real cost …

Isn’t it time to hold an open to the public meeting with the hoteliers and businesses and residents including the Chamber to see where the interest is or is not with this marketing of the Town?… It also seems to me there is another missing link with this going on besides the Chamber’s MIA component…This is moving forward at the same time the downtown revitalization decision is to be made on Jan 17th … I am still hearing the plans for that are not being welcomed by many of the businesses that will be in the thick of it as a result and they are not happy with communication via the Town …. On top of that as Mr Franczak addressed the hotels are still in the midst of a rate increase that hit them hard and is to be re-addressed by the commission ….It’s mind-boggling how this marketing  can be happening at the same time!…

The group has already moved ahead to start two websites according to the minutes below with one group participant hosting the sites for a year though the Town purchased the sites … Is the participant being paid for the service?…The new vendor list on the Town website does not include this group participant as a vendor on the new 12 page list added on this week under the new Town Ethics Reports catagory on the left side of the home page … http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/ …Is that an oversight?… Isn’t there some problem with a private company hosting a government paid site?… And again, was there no coordination with the Chamber of Commerce beforehand? … I was under the impression the taxpayers through the Town just approved monies to the Welcome Center which included advertising in different venues…. So why the double duty? … It’s time to have the commission put the brakes on this group and redefine the whole process…..

“Ad Hoc Marketing Minutes January 4, 2012
Present: Dorothy Hacker, Away Inn; John Boutin, Windjammer Resort; Jennifer Kovacs, Opt2web.com; Danny Carter, Dance Moves; Mark Silver, Argenti Designer Jewelers; Pam Rossi, PJ Rossi Jewelers; Paul Novak, High Noon Resort; Steve d’Oliveira & Pat Himelberger, LBTS staff.

It was discussed that Opt2web was working with the Town to create marketing materials for Festival by the Sea. The Town had purchased two domain names, LBTS Events and VisitSoFLA, with Opt2Web’s assistance and they will host the sites for one year. The premise is that the events that the Town promotes will reside on these pages in addition to the Town’s website. The banner ads developed will also be provided to hoteliers, retailers and restaurants to promote the three days of events.

There was discussion concerning going forward with Family Frenzy Week, debating about the audience we’re trying to attract. Although LBTS is not known for attracting younger families, it was reiterated that we are trying to reach a new demographic to expose families to all that LBTS has to offer. It was agreed to go forward with planning the event based upon hotelier commitment, as the primary reason to focus on the week of June 23-30 is to fill beds in the shoulder season and during that time most children are out of school. If hoteliers won’t commit, then it won’t be the same type of event and perhaps it becomes a retail event. Dorothy and John agreed to visit the hoteliers to ask for the following:
1. Participation in the event and at what discounted rate, i.e. 20%, 30%, 40%, etc.
2. Participation in the cost for a cooperative ad for the event.
3. Gauge interest in starting a hoteliers association.

It was agreed that we need to visit retailers to get a commitment from them for the event. Danny will provide Pat with a detailed list of what type of dance lessons he can offer with times available at what discounted price. It could be used as a template for other retailers. He also said the people in his building are interested in participating, eg. yoga lessons. Pam suggested she and Mark talk to retailers around them to see if there is interest in participating. We talked about asking participating retailers to offer a 20% discount, but the percentage may change. Jennifer said she would make up a mock calendar for them to take to the businesses to show what the activity schedule could look like. Commitments to contact businesses for specific activities were made as follows:
1. Jennifer will contact Interior Digs – Scavenger hunt or treasure hunt?
2. Steve will contact Gold Coast Scuba – Snorkeling tours & diving lessons, suggestions for kayaks
3. John will contact Louis Marchelos re: Kid’s Fishing Lessons & contest on the Pier.
4. Pat will contact Jan’s Candies
5. Jennifer will contact the art galleries re: Painting Classes
6. Pat will contact Lenore Nolan Ryan re: Cooking Classes:

We will meet next Wednesday at 9 AM at Jarvis Hall to review our progress and plan the next steps. Everyone needs to think about the name “Family Frenzy Week” – if that’s not representative of the event, then we need to agree on the name – maybe Family Fest by the Sea or something else.”

more to come…

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