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There Was a Plan B, After All

Experience-solvang-ca-app__smallA few weeks ago, the City of Solvang abruptly severed its contract with its Destination Marketing Organization without an apparent Plan B. Realizing its error (shutting down its Visitor Center and festival and event support in the middle of high season, the City then hurriedly extended enough funding for a skeleton crew for the next couple months.

Then, this past Monday, the Council reversed itself completely, restored the contract and pledged to continue discussions and negotiations with the Chamber and its DMO. The City is still not happy with the situation and, at least from afar, it appears that the influence that Chamber membership has on its DMO's marketing is at least partially to blame.

It's why so many DMOs have ditched the "membership model" that restricts visibility to only those businesses that pay a fee. As Chambers have fewer available revenue streams, it's harder for them to operate inclusively. Thus, they are often criticized for favoring only members if the DMO resides within the Chamber.  

Clearly, members of the business community had a lot to do with opening the Council's eyes to their mistake. As one Lyft driver said, “Please, let’s be adults about this. Let’s not get personal. Without marketing we will be Ghost Town USA. We will not be Tourist Central."

True 'dat. Here's hoping cooler heads prevail in the weeks ahead.

Bill Geist

Bill GeistBill Geist

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