The Turlock City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Nov. 18 for a vote to accept the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) 2014-15 Budget, per City staff’s recommendation, to allot the $249,253 on the basis that it encourage economic development in the City.
The CVB has a calendar year budget and does not coincide directly with the City’s Fiscal-Year budget.
With the proposal, the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau is charged with marketing for the community with the goal of making the City a more attractive place for potential visitors as a means of bringing in outside dollars. Per the City, the goal of the program is increased convention sales, tourism marketing and services.
The $249,253 budget is comprised of an $138,000 administrative allowance with the balance of funds allocated to other projects and programs specific to the plan. The allowance includes a new event planner position; the employee would be shared between the City, Chamber, CVB and Turlock Downtown Association. An $111,253 budget for various elements relating to the promotion of tourism is also included.
Some highlights in the $111,253 allotment by the City for the promotion of tourism in 2015 include $10,000 for Directory and Visitors’ Guides, $45,000 for community funding, $10,000 for official city maps, $4,000 for media tourism advertising, $1,200 for web hosting and domain fees, $1,000 for smart phone technology, $5,000 for new and upgraded equipment, $2,000 for conferences, $2,000 for event hosting and receptions, $1,000 for travel, and $3,000 for the Carnegie Weekend Visitors Center.
The 2015 Budget includes an anticipated increase of $12,608 in comparison to 2014 for administrative and program expenses.
TurlockCityNews.com asked the CVB if the visitor guide directory listed all Turlock Businesses, or only those who are Chamber of Commerce members, but the CVB did not respond. There was also no statement made on how the visitor guides are currently distributed.
Additionally, the CVB did not provide the number of maps that are printed, nor how they are distributed.
The adoption of the budget devotes Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) dollars, the additional tax on hotel and lodging services, to CVB services and activities.
Charged with promoting economic development in the City, the CVB and Turlock Chamber of Commerce, per the agreement, would act as the City’s marketing and tourism arm.
Though separate, according to the City, the Chamber of Commerce’s duty would be to boost the local economy by attracting and supporting businesses in the area while the CVB’s duty would be boosting the local economy through bringing tourism and conventions to Turlock.
However, the Chamber CEO position is subsidized by the CVB as the visitors bureau spending plan allocates $12,440.76, or 15 percent, of the position's salary total.
The CVB, per the City, is “like a key to the city” to act as a “one-stop shop” for local tourism interests and serve as broker or point of contact for tourists and event planners.
The CVB website has no contact information readily available for those interested in visiting Turlock or bringing events to the area and the City does not link it’s website to the CVB for those researching the City.
The CVB did not respond to a request for website statistics, including number of unique visitors, most popular pages, most searched items, etc.
While the CVB website may not have a mobile version, there is also a Turlock CVB mobile app, created by Base 2 Applications. The CVB did not respond to a request for statistics of the mobile app, so it is unknown exactly how many downloads the app has overall or specifically in 2014.
As of Monday, there were approximately 100 downloads in the Google Play Store and 10 reviews — the most recent review being June 16, 2012. While having a small sample, it does have a 4.8 rating in the Play Store.
The App Store does not list how many downloads the app has, nor does it have enough reviews to list its rating. According to the App Store, the Turlock CVB App was last updated in 2012.
No statistics for hard copy or web materials were provided in the Turlock City Council agenda packet.
Of note, the CVB does update their social media accounts relatively frequently with information on community events. The CVB Facebook page has 855 "Likes" or followers.
Conversely, should the Council fail to adopt the proposal, TOT dollars would not be provided to the Chamber; the agreement can be terminated by either the City or Chamber without cause with 90-day written notice. Other options include providing additional funding for services or to expand services.
The City would have the option to direct staff and the Chamber to develop other methods of funding should the item fail to receive the Council’s vote and would have the option to put the project out for bid to outside groups who may offer more competitive pricing or different ideas.
Turlock City Council will meet Tuesday at 6:00 p.m at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway, in the Yosemite Room.