CAPC hears from community on new director
The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission is taking input from the community when it comes to hiring a new director.
At a special workshop Wednesday, March 6, the commission heard from local stakeholders about the kind of person they hope replaces longtime director Mike Maloney. Chairwoman Carol Wright welcomed everyone to the workshop and said the commission wanted to hear from everyone in the community.
"The purpose of our meeting tonight is to listen to recommendations about the experience, skills and personality you feel are needed in a CAPC executive director," Wright said. "We have an opportunity to start anew, moving forward to take advantage of many opportunities in our beautiful city."
The commission first heard from Damon Henke, who said he's been meeting with other stakeholders in the city to discuss the future of the CAPC. Henke said the new director should be the primary contact for state officials while fulfilling a local leadership role. That includes actively communicating, Henke said, and having an inclusive attitude.
"Eureka Springs is about energy and community, and the right candidate should be interested in living in the area or remaining in the area," Henke said. "The candidate should also have a knowledge and expertise in branding, public relations and digital marketing."
Bob Jasinski, who owns Angel Rose Hall Bed and Breakfast, said the commission should hire a professional advertising agency to handle almost everything. Jasinski suggested the commission work with the same agency that promotes the Arkansas Parks Department.
"They've been doing a good job for the state," Jasinski said. "If you do hire a new director, I think we need to get a professional ad agency. You can't expect someone to step in and do it great from the get go."
Mike Seals said he's recently opened a new consulting business in town, saying he'd like to see the commission hire an interim director and complete an intense four-month search for a full-time director. As far as the commission's marketing strategy, Seals suggested rotating a primary market focus each year with a couple secondary markets.
"That could provide a better return for our promotion dollars," Seals said. "I believe it's important we review our mission going forward before we hire a full-time director. The right leader can build the brand of Eureka and multiply the impact of our dollars in creative ways."
Jacqueline Wolven, executive director of Main Street Eureka Springs, said the downtown shopping district is one of the city's biggest attractions.
"We look to working together in strengthening the whole district by promoting programing that is part of downtown and drives visitation to the whole town," Wolven said. "Our goal would be to work with the entire CAPC team … to collaborate and create a culture with the community. We ask that team effort be a priority for the CAPC moving forward with the hiring of a director."
Doug Hausler, who owns Keels Creek Winery, said the CAPC needs to find a better way to measure its success.
"These metrics need to be more than a casual look at the tax collections," Hausler said.
Hausler said he's noticed a significant decrease in the number of people that have come to his business.
"It's not just isolated to one particular business, Business in general is down," Hausler said. "That should have been a red flag within the commission that there are some issues we have to deal with."
Hausler recommended that the CAPC consider everyone when hiring a new director.
"Find out what visitors are buying and what they're using," Hausler said. "Recognize and celebrate that Eureka Springs is more than just downtown. It's more than the collectors. It's more than the natural beauty. It's everything combined."
Jack Moyer, general manager of the Crescent and Basin Park Hotels, said he wants the commission to be sure the new director knows the scale of the job. Moyer said he's looking for a leader who is fast-moving, strategic, organized and willing to ramp up digital media.
"Those qualities need to rise to the top," Moyer said. "They also need to be cooperative, because there's no way we can be successful if we don't bundle our partners and organizations and move forward in a consistent manner."
Michelle Frey, who owns Tall Pines Inn, said she wants the commission to focus on millennials.
"They're looking for experience, not stuff, and you can give them experiences," Frey said. "Marketing to that group is something we can look at."
Wright said the commission is happy to listen to what the community has to say and will probably have more workshops in the future where the community can speak to specific issues.
"The members of the CAPC are all volunteers. We shop in your stores. We eat in your restaurants," Wright said. "We want to support you, and we need your help and guidance as we move forward."