Turning around Valdez visitor industry
VCVB looks forward with good and bad news at membership meeting
Valdez Convention and Visitor Bureau executive director Jeremy Miner said he's tired of hearing negatives about Valdez from visitors after he read some of those comments during the VCVB's Annual Membership Meeting.
"Our job is to grow awareness," Miner said during the meeting earlier in December. "What we got are some issues. It's not easy to hear some of these things."
According to some internal research conducted by the VCVB, tourism was trending up in the state, but Valdez isn't. Some of the negative comment criticized the appearance of businesses, poor service levels, the cost and quality of products.
But Miner made sure this year's meeting wasn't just another session where a few members just discuss the problems. Through a group exercise, he challenged the membership - over 40 were present - to come up with ideas to improve the Valdez tourism experience.
"It's easier to keep a visitor once they come," Miner said. "Once they come here, it's easier to get them to come back. But if they don't want to come back, it makes our job extremely difficult to do that."
Board members gave the Valdez City Council similar information during a work session December 16.
VCVB also announced at its intention to move forward in 2014 through technology. Miner unveiled plans to develop a Visit Valdez app for visitors. The app will be accessible throughout the state. Miner explained that it will highlight the drive to Valdez by point out certain landmarks and features along the Glenn and Richardson Highway.
"The drive to Valdez has never really been marketed well," Miner said. "Money has gotten tight throughout the state and people are really looking at the value of the dollar. We want to give them another option to come down to Valdez and make that trip."
The app will also feature a Calendar of Valdez Events.
The VCVB's website, valdezalaska.org, will undergo a makeover. The organization has hired a web developer to update the site.
"We're really excited to get the project going in 2014," said Miner. "What we're going to be moving towards is something bigger and easier to see."
The new site will be easier for visitors to navigate thought winter and summer events. Members will be able to renew their memberships, upload photos, and post events from their business. Miner said it's probably the VCVB's biggest expenditure for 2014.
It will cost $35,000. Other plans are in the works to produce a webcast series about Valdez.
"What we want to do is deliver a little taste of what Valdez has to offer and do it in a way that's fun, exciting, and engaging and it's tells a story," Miner told the membership.
He also said the VCVB plans to post the series on various social media sites.
Tony Gorman photo
Jeremy Miner, back, executive director for the VCVB, and Patricia Relay, board president, during a membership presentation for the organization.
One of the biggest positive for the VCVB was getting over its financial woes in recent history. The organization announced that it had gotten over its financial issues that came to light in 2011. During that period, the VCVB had not submitted an audit to the City of Valdez from prior years. As part of a city code, an entity receiving more than $100,000 in city funding must submit and audit. The city had threatened to cut off funding from VCVB, but gave the organization some funds in order to make payroll and other critical infrastructure.
The VCVB went the entirety of 2012 without an executive director and ran the organization through its board, part-time staff, and volunteers. In 2013, the VCVB hired Miner as its new executive director. The former manager of the Mountain Sky Hotel put together a full-time staff that put the entity back on solid ground