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It comes down to quality over quantity.

That’s the continuing goal of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce as it seeks to bring to the area more guests who are looking to stay overnight and fewer who are coming in just for the day.

That was the message the chamber shared on Tuesday, June 13, at the Sedona City Council meeting.

The council unanimously approved this upcoming year’s contract with the chamber in the amount of $2,386,700. This includes 55 percent of the projected bed tax collections for fiscal year 2018. That amount is $2,141,700, plus an additional $245,000 from the anticipated current year’s collections that will be paid in next year.

New next year, the city and chamber will exercise the hold-back clause, which will set aside $50,000 for the city to make parking improvements at 401 Jordan Road. Thus, a city report states that the payment to the chamber will be $2,336,700.

Council also approved a memorandum of understanding with the chamber regarding property on Jordan Road, which the chamber closed escrow on last month. The cost of the 5,200-square-foot building [which includes a $50,000 upgrade to parking] is $1,015,000. A down payment of $390,000 has been made with the remaining amount to be paid off by 2020 using product development funds. At that time it will be deeded to the city.

The property will provide free parking spaces with ADA accessibility, in addition to more motorcoach parking in the congested area of Uptown. This purchase also addresses concerns regarding the transition to 100-plus paid parking spaces being implemented along State Route 89A.

Potential uses for the property include transit hub and staging area, employee or bus parking, Geotourism center, business incubator, site for a potential parking structure or the city trades it for property to be determined.

In regard to the chamber’s plans for the upcoming year, the goal is to attract more overnight guests, especially during the slower periods of summer and winter. One way of seeking more overnight guests as opposed to those coming for the day is that the chamber is spending more on marketing in the Tucson and Chicago areas and has removed all billboard advertising in the Phoenix area.

But this does not mean that the chamber will no longer be targeting Phoenix residents and those flying into that area.

“There will be an increase in using multiday stay messaging in all marketing and communications particularly in the Phoenix Valley,” Chamber Marketing Director Michelle Conway told council. “This is an attempt to redirect the consumer’s mindset that we are not just a day-trip destination and there is so much to do here so that multiple days are needed for a satisfying trip.”

Additional chamber goals for the upcoming year include: n Increase visitor spending in Sedona with a focus on mid-week, offpeak seasons.

  • Reinforce Sedona’s brand pillars of arts/culture, wellness and outdoor adventure.
  • Use audience and industry research to inform decision-making.
  • Continue to investigate new and emerging markets and strategies.
  • Actively engage in product development efforts to link, enhance and create amenities that enrich the tourism experience, mitigate visitor impacts and contribute to quality of life for residents.
  • Position Sedona as a destination for small meetings in Arizona.
  • Position Sedona as one of the world’s top leisure destinations for national and international travelers through travel trade tour programs.
  • Provide the highest level of customer service at visitor center and call center. n Maintain trained, engaged volunteer core.
  • Develop new training activities for volunteers and staff to be well informed. n Increase in travel trade and group sales efforts.

Conway said that more than 30 percent of this year’s marketing budget was dedicated to product development. The chamber has shifted its efforts and is now focused less on how to market the existing product and more on what products they need to attract the type of visitors they want and when they want them.

“Our marketing budget is flat year-over-year,” Conway said. “We are not increasing our advertising spending. This is a strategic move to maintain our brand awareness — which takes years to build — while not attempting to increase the quantity of visitors to Sedona.”

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