SPARKS -- The holiday season marks more than just a time for gifts and family, it also signals the end of the year and another one fast approaching. For City of Sparks officials it means planning efforts must be discussed for the upcoming year.
On Friday, the topic of discussion was the city’s Brand Leadership Team (BLT) during a meeting of the City of Sparks Tourism and Marketing Committee. The team was looking for direction after completing a four-year branding process that developed the “It’s Happening Here” slogan.
Committee members Councilman Ron Schmitt, Councilman Ron Smith and COO of The Nugget Stephen Ascuaga were joined by BLT members Adam Mayberry (City of Sparks) and Kraig Knudsen (Tanamara Development) along with other city employees and officials to discuss whether the brand leadership team had accomplished its goal. The team was consulted about four years ago by Destination Development International (DDI), which provided the BLT with a plan to implement a new brand and marketing strategy.
“The team kind of needs to be retooled because we have been pretty successful in implementing just about everything in (the DDI) plan,” Mayberry said.
As part of its guidance from DDI, the BLT developed a new website, mobile application, logo and advertising campaign for the city to promote it as a destination for special events. Knudsen stressed to the Tourism and Marketing Committee that the BLT should be focused on the brand of the city above all.
“The whole point of this (team) is to promote the branding. We are not out there trying to get events or find new events, we are trying to help the people who put them on, the promoters and sponsors,” Knudsen said.
Rowe added that the BLT would be asking the committee for about $70,000 dollars in 2013 to continue implementing its advertising and marketing strategies. In the past, the team has asked for between $60,000 and $65,000 for its operation.
“I know that you have to earn a brand and it takes a while. We were talking about four to five years just to get it going,” Smith said. “The groundwork had to be laid step by step and they have been doing that. I think we are going in the right direction. To me, what we have done with the money we have been allocated, we have really spent it well.”
Ascuaga agreed the BLT was an important entity to have around in the tourism department and said the benefits the city has reaped from DDI’s proposals and the BLT’s work have been felt.
“I would hate to see the BLT disband because I think it is the best thing that has happened with the tour market,” he said. “It is taking kind of the private expertise and helping to prioritize a limited amount of funds. It strips out the political side too. This is the key branding move and it has been effective. For the amount of money that has been spent, I feel like it has really stretched the dollar for us."
The Tourism and Marketing Committee directed the BLT to hold a workshop comprised of its members and members of the business community. Though a date for the workshop has yet to be set, Schmitt said the agenda would likely discuss business participation in special events, brand exposure, new website and advertising features and any issues regarding special events.
Schmitt said the meeting should be scheduled for early in the first quarter of 2013 and stressed the need for the committee to quickly find an option for bringing in revenue to fund special events.
“The numbers that I have seen as far as what people expect the city to fund, we couldn’t even dream of that amount of money coming into the city,. So we can either keep dreaming of that amount of money or we can find a solution of the private enterprises helping out on this thing,” he said.