The $200,000 question | AspenTimes.com

The $200,000 question

Dear Editor:The city and ACRA are now faced with finding a solution to the marketing tax that has disappeared, and coming up with a way to replace the $1.3 million they thought would make up their new budget.For years ACRA has had about $650,000 in the marketing budget they have received via City Council (think – power of the coin). This money has been used to promote summer tourism. The winter is promoted by marketing funds from Skico and Snowmass Village (think – millions, but it probably should be more, based on what our competition spends). Last year, the city augmented (think – plastic surgery) the ACRA marketing budget to about $815,000 (think – not bad). With the new tax on the horizon, ACRA thought they’d have about $1.3 million to spend this year. Their plan was to amp up summer marketing, do a little winter marketing, and allocate some money to special events (think – good plan). But, as we all know, the best laid plans of mice, men and ACRA sometimes go astray (think – screwed-up election).So – What to do? Here are my thoughts.This year ACRA is expecting $450,000 from their still-existing funding source. The city should put up the $365,000 needed to equal last year (think – fair solution), and ACRA should then ask the hotels to opt in voluntarily to some degree (think – $75,000). ACRA would have $890,000 to spend (think – not as good as $1.3 million, but not so bad).There are those working behind the scenes chasing the $200,000 currently dedicated to stimulating the economy, through new and existing promotions and events, and roll those funds into the ACRA budget.In my opinion, based on a few years in the marketing business, taking the $200,000 and giving it to ACRA is one POOR idea (think IRV).I’ll support that thought with this fact: ACRA claims their best return on investment (ROI) is public relations (think $130,000 spent – $6 million in value returned).Those in the business know public relations media is generated by a great event, “big idea” promotion, or existing relationships. Why eliminate the best ROI? We shouldn’t – the city needs to step up!At the same time we need to be thinking as a team – ACRA is good, but not the only game in town.New and existing (think – Win A Year In Aspen & Aspen Fashion Week) media-generating (think PR and best ROI) events and promotions to enhance the Aspen brand, promote the entire business community, and add value to the guest experience – that is the way to go. (think – NO BRAINER!)Andrew KoleAspen