Friday, February 03, 2012

Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority: CEO dumps 'Far from expected'. New marketing plan introduced

Written by Bill O’Driscoll

Four weeks into his new job, Chris Baum has been a busy CEO at the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority.

A new marketing campaign targeting Northern California will be up and running by March 1. The tourism agency’s slogan, “Far from expected,” is gone. And the word is out to staff: As a destination, Reno-Tahoe will not escape prospective tourists’ attention.

“We want people to have Reno-Tahoe tops in their minds, whether they want it or not ... something they can’t escape,” Baum told the RSCVA board Thursday in his first monthly report. “We are keeping the logo. It’s good, solid and competitive. ‘Far from expected’ is dead. We’re not using that anymore.

“I think we can do a lot better, and we will,” he said. “We’re getting somewhere in my first 27 days. There’s a lot more to come. No reason to waste time.”

Baum’s no-nonsense demeanor in the face of recession impressed board members — just as it did in December when they unanimously approved him after a two-hour interview. “Way to hit the ground running,” said Beth Cooney, executive director of marketing at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

“There’s a new captain in the house,” said Glenn Carano, a Silver Legacy Resort Casino executive. “I look forward to (Baum’s) aggressiveness in marketing. We’re marching forward.”

He later added to Baum, “Thank you very much” for the decision to discard the “Far from expected” slogan that dates to 2009 and Baum’s predecessor, Ellen Oppenheim.

Baum, a former Detroit tourism executive, took the $225,000-a-year post after a nearly year-long search to replace Oppenheim, who resigned last February amid faltering room tax revenues and budget cuts that cost the agency dozens of jobs.

Baum told the board he is working with Stan Can Design, an advertising/branding firm in Reno, to develop the radio/billboard marketing campaign across Northern California, the Reno-Tahoe region’s primary tourist draw.

“I think you’ll be very pleased with the new message,” he said. “We want people not to just look at the ads but create trips. Stay tuned for what we think will be a very exciting turning point for this organization.”

Discussion also focused on the region’s image after last fall’s National Championship Air Races crash, which killed 11 and injured more than 70, and the fatal biker gang shooting at the Nugget during Street Vibrations, as well as the more recent wildfires which destroyed a total of 59 homes.

Baum downplayed any adverse impact from these events on the region’s tourism.

“The fires are the story more people recall,” he said. “Planes crash, people get shot. These stories blend into the wallpaper. When some jerk drops ashes out in a field, I don’t think it’ll hurt us at all.”


On Thursday, the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority approved a dozen 2012 special events receiving a total of $197,500 in RSCVA funds as recommended by an independent review panel:
$75,000: National Championship Air Races
$40,000: Reno Tahoe Open
$10,000: Great Reno Balloon Race
$10,000: Beach Sports Festival
$10,000: Reno River Festival
$10,000: American Cowboy Team Roping Association National Finals
$10,000: Xtreme Bulls
$10,000: Street Vibrations Fall Rally
$7,500: Artown
$5,000: Street Vibrations Spring Rally
$5,000: USA BMX Silver Dollar Nationals
$5,000: Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival


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