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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
While working on the proposed 2024 Tourism Tax Commission budget, various ideas were exchanged on how best to promote the town during the joint tourism meeting on July 18.
This included whether paper maps are still relevant in the world of smart phones and computer apps.
Tourism Director Tanalyn Dollar, while noting that visitor guides “are very old and outdated,” asked about maps.
“Once you have an accurate maps … how many maps are needed?” she asked. “If we have VisitWidget, do we need downtown maps, or how many do we need?”
Both Dena Kreitler, Chamber of Commerce executive director and Geoff Giglierano, executive director of French Colonial America (FCA), argued that paper maps still have their place.
“People don’t want to hold their phone,” Kreitler said. “They certainly want a map. I go through those [maps] that Happy [Welch] gives me like crazy.”
Robbie Pratt, FCA property manager, said he was only allowed to take one packet of 100 of the scarce maps.
Based on “direct experience with the visitors,” Giglierano said that, the maps are “extremely useful – especially when you’re trying to explain something to people and are cross marketing…and telling people where to go to find the rest of the parts of the story and where to find something to eat and something to stay … has been really extremely useful.”
He said “the more mature” guests especially prefer having the paper maps to have in hand.
He suggested that the $1,500 budgeted for maps might not be enough.
City Administrator Happy Welch noted that for $1,500, they would be getting 5,000 maps.
“I agree people want to hold something,” Laura Oliver said, “but I also think that with our new VisitWidget and what not, some of that’s going to go away.”
“Yeah, if they can operate it,” Kreitler replied. She said the demographic group she deals with most at the Chamber office prefers thee tear-off maps because “They’re not on their phones; they don’t want to drain their battery.”
It was decided that the $1,500 was an appropriate figure.
It was also agreed that Dollar would send the members some examples of outstanding tourism maps from other cities.
Another big discussion took place over local festivals. Dollar’s requested budget figure for festivals was $11,000, compared to $2,000 last year.
She suggested that “an examination of the festivals, how they compare to our competitors, what kind of help they need, are they struggling with new attractions, are they struggling with getting the quality of musicians and artists,” would be helpful.
She recommended that “as part of the strategy,” the council help boost the festivals.
Giglierano asked whether she intended more than just promotional expenses to go toward the events.
Dollar said the events that are “really Ste. Gen.’s brand” could get a boost.
“I think it would be great to have the festival organizers in one room and look at what we are trying to accomplish with our festivals,” she said.
“I think we’re in agreement that there’s a lot to be said for investing, in supporting, the events that the in with ‘the brand,’“ Giglierano said. “The question is, ‘Is that just advertising?’”
Dollar indicated she was proposing giving key festivals a helping hand in being all that they can be.
“Do we have actors, do we have great musicians, do we have great food?” she asked. “All of the elements that male something like that very successful.”
She said she feels it is “worth exploring” to see how the events can be to improved, and possibly help event organizers pay for top-quality performers, etc.
“Is it our responsibility to be paying for their musicians?” Kreitler asked. “If Jour de Fete comes to you and wants you to pay for their bands for their entire festival, but then Oktoberfest comes to you and you only want to pay for one of their bands… Why are we in that business?”
“Because it will help brand the city,” Oliver answered. “We can identify some signature events … I think it helps the brand overall.”
“I wouldn’t disagree with that at all,” said Joe Steiger, the aldermanic liaison to the group.
Kreitler warned that it would be “a slippery slope.”
When Steiger noted that $11,000 wouldn’t go very far, Dollar said that “you pick and choose” and are “very strategic” in dishing out the money. She said in addition to Jour de Fete, the city should have two or three other “super signature events.”
Steiger said he was “real nervous about picking winners and losers among the activities.”
He suggested that the money would be better spent for overall advertising. Dollar countered that they were in “a competitive market.”
Steiger said the events should be able to support themselves.
Giglierano asked whether the $11,000 was a sufficient amount to promote the local events.
Dollar noted that she was taking care of that with the city tourism budget, which is separate from the funds the Tourism Tax Commission handles.
Oliver agreed that it could be a “slippery slope,” but noted that they are “trying to build something here, we’re trying to try something different.”
Kreitler warned that they would be “opening up a Pandora’s box” by assisting individual events.
CONSIDERING RACK CARDS
Kreitler also questioned the removal of all print advertising from the budget.
Dollar and Welch explained that the newspaper and magazine advertising would be paid from the city’s tourism budget, rather than the Tourism Tax Commission funds.
Steiger said he didn’t think it would be wise to “make 35 enemies” by using the $11,000 to supplement a couple of festivals, while leaving the others to their own devices.
He also asked about the uses of the money that had been allocated to the Welcome Center, once it is turned over to the National Park Service.
The subject of rack cards also came up. Dollar shared a list of where they are being distributed – at motels among Missouri interstates.
She suggested that a redesign of the current rack cards would be needed, if the cards were to continue.
Some questions arose over the total cost of the rack cards would be. A line item of $2,000 was on the proposed budget for them, but a $4,340 total, including the redesign would be a more accurate figure.
It was agreed that the group would take another look at the figures in August, when a budget work session is scheduled for Aug. 15 at the firehouse.