Wow, that’s some marketing efficiency; Over $45M spent to realize that we have to “get back to basics” and “re-engage our core markets.” That’s nuts! Wouldn’t it have been great if the same marketing brilliance being displayed now could have been displayed three or four years ago at about the $21M or $30M mark? That’s a rhetorical question because, in an Ole Seagull’s opinion, the same marketing brilliance and desire for control that led Branson into this position, as embodied in the incestuous relationship between leadership of the “Tourism Community Enhancement District” (TCED) and the “Branson Lakes Area CVB” (CVB), is still “lighting” the way into the future. (Don’t panic folks, as used herein the term “incestuous” is defined as “a relationship excessively close and resistant to outside influence.”)
But wait, its gets even nuttier. The Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED) wants the voters of the District, who live primarily in Branson and Taney County, to vote for more of the same on April 8 by reauthorizing the 1% retail sales tax on the majority of non-food retail goods they buy in Branson day after day. “But Seagull, didn’t the front page of the Dec. 27-28 edition of this very paper contain a statement by Jim Barber, who is leading the “Branson Area Regional Tourism Committee” (BARTC) in its effort to get the tax reauthorized, saying: ‘Tourism is the lifeblood of our community. The renewal of the TCED tourism tax on April 8 will ensure continued growth in the area and a prosperous future for us all?'” “Yes it did.”
Very few people living in Branson would dispute the first sentence and certainly not an Ole Seagull. However, the second sentence is inexplicable from someone who has not only lived in Branson, but owned a show. Perhaps Mr. Barber could explain precisely how the $45M plus spent on marketing over the last seven years has contributed to Branson’s growth, particularly in the area of one of its most unique “attractors,” its live shows and entertainment? If the “prosperity” of the past seven years and the expenditure of $45M plus is any indication, it would appear that the majority of whatever “prosperity” there was, at least $1.5M plus a year, inured to the benefit of the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB. The CVB is the TCED’s marketing agent.
If the past seven years of marketing under the TCED/ CVB has proved anything, it is that spending money on marketing is not the same as effective marketing. It’s an Ole Seagull’s opinion that it’s more about controlling what is happening rather than what is best for Branson. One thing is for sure though, they have showed even those theatres and shows who wanted to partner with one of Branson’s largest and most respected marketing firms by putting up $500,000 of their own money for a cooperative marketing effort, who controls the standards that are arbitrarily applied and the impotence of the TCED Board who enables and permits it to happen.
Here we are, after spending $45M over the last seven years doing whatever it was they were doing, going “back to basics” when we should be looking for innovative new ways to move forward, eliminate duplication of services and multiply, exponentially, the effectiveness of every marketing dollar spent. Whether “innovative” or “basic,” cooperative marketing, makes up, according to a recent Missouri Division of Tourism report, the second largest expenditure in its budget, about 32.83%. As of this date, what percentage of the “back to basics” 2014 TCED CVB budget is allocated to cooperative marketing?
Do you think it’s coincidental that the new marketing agent for the TCED will not be chosen until after the Apr. 8 election? Does anyone really believe that it will be anyone, but the Branson Lakes Area CVB? That aside, does anyone seriously believe that, without changes to the current system, throwing millions of dollars more into marketing will “ensure continued growth in the area and a prosperous future for us all” any more than the $45M plus over the last seven years did?”
“Seagull, if the tax is defeated on April 8 will it impact the marketing of Branson?” Absolutely not! The TCED will be collecting the tax up until March 31 of 2016. They have the elections of Nov. 2014, Apr. of 2015 and Nov. of 2015 to convince the voters that their leadership and marketing plan is worthy of their vote and will in fact “ensure continued growth in the area and a prosperous future for us all.”