CAPC denies marketing support for chamber guide

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission won’t be funding postage for the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce’s annual visitor guide.

At the commission’s regular meeting on April 14, chamber representative Devin Henderson presented a marketing support fund request for $5,000 to pay for postage. Henderson said the chamber is expecting to mail out 20,000 copies of the print guide, with the digital guide already available on the chamber’s website.

“That amount doesn’t really cover all that postage, but it sure does help out,” Henderson said. “We still get plenty of requests for them and they’re an important piece for the town.”

Chairman Jeff Carter asked how many guides were mailed out last year and Henderson said the chamber mailed out between 10,000 and 12,000 copies.

“This year you’re thinking it’s going to be more?” Carter asked.

“Well, it’s picking up, so we’re hoping it will be more,” Henderson said. “We’re earmarking 20,000 of the guides to mail.”

Henderson said the chamber is printing 60,000 copies, with 25,000 copies being distributed at welcome centers throughout Arkansas. The chamber has been told “on numerous occasions that we’re the most requested guide in the welcome centers,” Henderson said.

Carter asked how much the commission paid for postage in 2020 and Henderson said it was $5,000.

Carter then asked finance director Rick Bright how much the commission has budgeted for marketing support in 2021, and Bright said the total is $29,000.

Bright said the commission has received a marketing support fund request for the Eurekan Multsport Festival. He expects to receive a request for Mardi Gras later in the year, Bright said.

“Our marketing support is really limited,” Carter said. “It’s $29,000, and we’re still going to have other people that are going to want marketing support.”

Commissioner Melissa Greene asked how the chamber responds when someone submits a request for the print guide.

“Do you respond back that it’s online and then do they still want one or will they read it online?” Greene asked.

“We’ll let them know it’s online,” Henderson said. “More often than not, they want the print copy.”

Commissioner Patrick Burnett said he referred his customers to the online visitor guide the first year he was in business in Eureka Springs, saying the online link was broken. As for the print version, Burnett said, his business has received many copies.

“And we’ve never actually replaced but maybe 10 in the last year and a half, so they’re not moving on our side,” Burnett said. “What you’re printing right now … it should diminish from here forward. You should not be printing as many, because I think print is dying.”

Burnett added, “We need to find a digital solution that’s going to be easy but most importantly, it needs to be mobile-friendly. In the current format as a booklet, it doesn’t come up on a phone very well.”

Commissioner Carol Wright said the commission’s “real duty” is to its collectors: lodging and restaurant owners.

“A couple of years ago, one of our big questions was, ‘Should we be supporting something that’s not inclusive of our members?’ “ Wright said.

Henderson said there are separate restaurant and lodging directories in the guide.

“Even if someone doesn’t opt to advertise in the guide, they’re still represented in one of those two directories,” Henderson said.

“Do they ask to be included?” Wright asked.

“No, they don’t, and I try to keep it as up to date as I can,” Henderson said. “We try to keep everybody in mind.”

Burnett moved to approve the request for $5,000 to mail the guide, but Greene said she’d like to reduce that amount to $3,000. Burnett withdrew his motion and Greene moved to approve $3,000 for postage.

The motion failed on a 2-2 vote, with Greene and Burnett voting yes and Wright and Harry Meyer voting no.

The commission then heard a marketing support fund request from Bruce Dunn, who organizes the Eurekan Multisport Festival. Dunn said the Arkansas Department of Health has dropped the mandate requiring outdoor non-stadium events to seek a permit, saying the festival will follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines as specified by the CDC and the state.

The festival was canceled in 2020 but still received $5,000 from the commission, Dunn said. Carter asked if any of those funds are available and Dunn said he spent it all on promotion for the event.

“It’s a fair point … but I believe your investment in us has kept us here and will continue to keep us strong and healthy,” Dunn said.

Wright moved to approve Dunn’s request for $5,000, pending Mayor Butch Berry’s “decision to open events … which he will probably do before June 30.”

Earlier this year, Berry issued a moratorium on events that is set to expire at the end of June. The commission voted unanimously to approve Wright’s motion, and Dunn said he’d communicate with the commission to ensure the promotion includes the proper logo.

In other business, the commission agreed to budget up to $15,000 to hire a part-time intern year-round. The commission also voted to approve the job description for the executive director and Carter said Lynn Berry should receive all information on the applicants.

Lynn Berry, wife of Butch Berry, agreed in March to volunteer for the three-person hiring committee.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 28, at The Auditorium.

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