When the City Council approved the fiscal year 2013-2014 bed tax allocation on August 13th they also approved our annual marketing budget of $290,000 which is funded from bed tax. This is an increase of $40,000 over last year's marketing budget. Part of that increase is needed to fund a full-time Sales Manager position for the Tourism Office. This position replaces the part-time (30 hours per week) marketing coordinator position that has been vacant since April. Once that position is filled the Tourism Office will have two full-time positions and another position that is shared with Economic Development. The remainder of the increase will allow us to outsource some of the marketing functions previously handled by the marketing coordinator. The new Sales Manager position will allow me to focus on marketing and administration while the Sales Manager will be completely focused on working with tour operators, meeting planners and others to bring group and FIT business to Prescott. Much of his/her time will be spent working with clients in the Phoenix area in addition to attending and organizing our presence at trade shows and sales missions. We hope to have this new position filled by November.
Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO's) like the Prescott Office of Tourism, have four basic functions: marketing, sales, media relations and administration. Competing destinations, such as Flagstaff and Sedona, have at least one staff member assigned to each of these positions. Flagstaff's CVB is a city department and is funded through a BBB tax that brings in $5 million dollars annually of which $1.5 million is allocated to destination marketing. The Tourism Bureau of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce is partially funded by the City of Sedona with a percentage of the bed tax. Next week the Sedona City Council will be voting on a proposed .05 percent increase of their bed tax from 3% to 3.5% which, if successful, will increase the Tourism Bureau's marketing budget from $500,000 to about $1 million, which is supplemented even further with co-op dollars from resorts outside of the city limits. The DMO's in both of those communities also manage visitor centers. In Prescott, tourism sales and marketing is the responsibility of the City's tourism office, while the visitor center is managed by the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and a group of dedicated volunteers led by Robert Coombs. All of our marketing efforts direct potential visitor to our website as well as the Chamber's Visitor Center for further information. Starting this month we will start reporting on activity at the Visitor Center in addition to the other numbers we report on monthly.
Destinations compete fiercely for tourism dollars and that is certainly the case with Prescott and our competitors to the north. Despite being significantly outspent (and in the case of Sedona enjoying a much higher media profile), Prescott has managed to hold our own against the competition. The PKF report below compares Prescott's lodging metrics against Flagstaff and Sedona, as well as the entire Northern Arizona region and Southern Arizona (including Phoenix and Tucson). While Sedona commands a much higher daily rate than any other destination in the region, they have also seen their hotel occupancy drop by almost 6% and their Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) drop over 4% from January through July of this year. During that same period Prescott showed growth in all three of these key metrics and compares favorably to the rest of the region - and significantly outperforms Southern Arizona. It should also be noted that this time period includes all of Southern Arizona's peak season and only part of ours.
As we strive to be as efficient and effective as possible with our limited marketing dollars, we are fortunate to have many assets helping us to compete for visitor dollars: our beautiful downtown and Courthouse Plaza, our western history and culture and our lakes and trails that help make us an exceptional destination for outdoor recreation. We are also fortunate to host a variety of exceptional special events throughout our expanding tourism season that bring thousands of visitors - and their dollars - to our community. Thanks to all of the hard-working volunteers that make these events a success!
Prescott Chamber of Commerce - Visitor Center, September report
Walk-Ins -2503 / International - 98 / Phone Calls Received -1374 / Total Relocation Visitor Packets Sent -83 / Total $20 Packets Mailed - 18 / Total Relocation E-List Names - 53