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Minutes Chapel Hill_Orange County Visitors Bureau Board February


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                  Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau Board
                                 February 16, 2011

             The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitor’s Bureau Board met at
                              Open Eye Café, Carrboro

       Board Members Present: Dave Gephart, Rick Strunk, Mike Gering, Jim Norton,
       Laura Morgan, Mark Sherburne, Lydia Lavelle, Jim Parker, Greg Overbeck, Jim
       Ward, Valerie Foushee, Lee Pavao and Dwight Bassett

       Members Absent: Robert Kintz

       Staff Present: Laurie Paolicelli, Linda Ekeland, Tina Fuller, and Martha Shannon

       Incoming Member – Karen DeHart


Chair Dave Gephart called the meeting to order at 8:07 am


Gephart welcomed everyone and introduced our host, Scott Conary of Open Eye Café.
Mr. Conary informed members that the coffee served to them this morning is El Pinabetel
from Honduras, roasted by artisans of the Carrboro Coffee Company which is housed
with Open Eye Café, and is considered one of the best coffees in the world. Conary stated
that the Open Eye Café opened in 1997 and was originally located in the space that
Neal’s Deli currently occupies. They moved to this location in 2005. Conary stated that
he feels the Café is a good fit in Carrboro, noting that opportunities are more agreeable in
a small town. Conary stated that his background is in Bio Chemistry. He has two goals:
1) quality is bottom line and 2) to create a reflection of the community they are in,
accessible and comfortable in interaction. Scott stated that the Roastery is more of an
outreach than the Café in that they consult clients locally and regionally. He also stated
that he feels growth is fine but appreciates smart growth in the community. Scott picks
and buys the beans directly from family farms and co-ops; farm to table. The coffee bean
is the seed of a cherry. A coffee plant typically takes 3-5 years to produce the cherries
(fruit). Carrboro Coffee Company (CCC) takes great care in the preparation process-
“seed to cup” - and is very conscious of every step. Conary noted that coffee as compared
to wine as a more diminishing window to get the best cup of coffee.

Lydia Lavelle noted that Open Eye is open to the community in terms of art and music
and every 3rd Friday they have Tango classes.

Martha requested Conary talk a little about the judging competitions. Scott stated that the
CCC staff is involved in judging competitions through SCAA and he personally trains
judges; they have in house competition and the meeting room is used for training by CCC
staff to compete in regional competitions. In conclusion, Scott noted that they also own
Café Driade.


Mr. Gephart requested a motion to approve the January 19, 2010 minutes. Lee motioned
to approve with Mike seconding. Lydia noted a few things to change. Rather than
questioning if the religious group was multi-denominational she was just asking and the
second referred to the Carrboro Centennial. Lydia wanted to make clear that they are
working with Minnow Media in Carrboro to try to produce a documentary (it is not
definite) and if they do work it out, then they will send a proposal to the Visitors Bureau.
And with that Lee motioned to approve with changes. All members were in favor and the
minutes were approved.

Chair Gephart announced that County Commissioner Valerie Foushee will now represent
the county commissioners on the visitors bureau board.


Budget & Finance

Mike Gering reported that there is nothing to report this month other than December
reflected overages in occupancy collection but not arrears. Mr. Gering brought up the
question of the County charging the Visitor Bureau rent and if the VB is the only
department paying rent. Laurie Paolicelli answered that originally when the VB was
formed that it was thought to eventually spin off to a non-profit and therefore were
charged rent. It may be negotiable. Paolicelli will defer to Clarence on the rent now that
he is more comfortable in his position. Paolicelli will report back at next meeting. Gering
stated that as a county department, it was his view that the visitors bureau should pay less
rent or no rent.

Gering brought up the parking at the Visitors Center. Visitors Center is essentially a retail
center. Paolicelli stated that there are two handicap spots and limited parking because
several offices within the Bentley Building are for rent. She stated that downtown
workforce is parking in the lot and walking to their jobs down the street. Paolicelli stated
that she believes they need to have stickers and start towing enforcement. What is the
point of having a walk-in visitor’s center when you don’t have the parking spaces to
accommodate the visitor? Paolicelli stated that she would circle back and speak to Pam
Jones in Asset Management/Public Works re: a sticker system. May have to allocate
spots for the VC. Lydia Lavelle stated that it is not clear on which spaces are available to
the visitors center because way-finding signage directs motorists to visitors center but
once there, parking spaces say Bentley Building and Skills Development.

Paolicelli agreed; visitors don’t know what the Bentely Building is. Paolicelli also noted
that there is a new student housing building behind the VB with a shortage of spaces so
they use the VB’s. May need more directionals and repaint spaces.

On another note, Mike Gering asked what the role of the board is in regard to the budget
process for the County. Is the board in an advisory capacity and what to expect from the
fund balance.

Lee Pavao answered that the Commissioners overview the budget and the board acts in
an advisory capacity.

Laurie Paolicelli noted that the BOCC defers to the tourism board. She also noted that the
fund balance grew over the years and the $200,000 of the fund balance that went to EDC
was an unusual case.

Valerie Foushee chimed in and informed that the BOCC understands the fund balance;
what is required, what needs to be maintained and how may it be appropriated to where it
needs to go. Ms. Foushee also noted that the Visitors Bureau is part of the EDC.

Ms. Paolicelli informed board members that the normal fund balance should be 15% of
the budget. The Visitors Bureau FB was near 50%.

Lydia asked if 5-6% would be reasonable. Valerie stated that it could run higher since we
are a smaller department

Mike Gering stated that he felt if the funds come from lodging than they should be used
for tourism.

Dave Gephart commented that it could be used as a rainy day fund.

Lee Pavao stated that the BOCC was previously anti-development and it is the boards
role to take on the BOCC on these issues.

Jim Ward commented that we should to find out what percentage is logical and what are
the best business practices.

Paolcelli stated that the State mandates 12%, which is still in there.

Pavao commented that 25% is a good number.

Ms. Paolicelli stated that they are already rebuilding and that May and June receipts may
build up the fund balance She also stated that the Arts Commission budget moving
forward would stay the same and that we should be proactive in how to use the fund
balance in the future.

Rick Strunk informed members that his term has expired and Karen Dehart will be
representing the NCHSAA beginning March.

Paolicelli informed board members that the Jennings contract is expiring and that Rick
Strunk had a big part in bringing them on board to execute current marketing programs.
Currently $250,000 is spent on creative, media execution, and account services. The
account is 5 years old and the County encourages departments to bid out periodically.
The pros of keeping with Jennings are that they are local, the cons is that some feel that
their creative is politically safe and not as representative of the actual destination as it
could/should be.

Rick commented that he has been pleased in working with them. Laurie commented that
Rick feels that we should keep Jennings and just work with them on a different approach.
Rick stated that it would be difficult to start from scratch. Dwight Bassett commented
that other agencies could do a better job and it is beneficial to have fresh eyes. Rick stated
we might see the same issues with a ‘new guy’ as we do with the ‘old guy’. Mike Gering
commented that competition is a good thing.

Laurie stated that we are currently working on a 6-month interim contract with Jennings.
Bureau staff would submit an RFP and solicit bids including Jennings. Paolicelli
recommends having a marketing committee review this summer and possibly have on the
September agenda.

Mr. Pavao concurred, that we should definitely look at what’s out there. Paolicelli
informed members that the bidding process in 2006 went from 13 agencies initially
interested; to 7 agencies; and then to 5. Finally three agencies were seriously considered
for the account. Jennings took an intimate approach and showed knowledge of the

Dave Gephart commented that more companies are focusing on CVB’s now.

Jim Ward asked Valerie Foushee what the BOCC’s role was in this process; i.e. what
brand are they wanting? Valerie stated that the BOCC has accepted the current brand
from this board and has found it beneficial. She also stated that she hopes this board
would continue its leadership in the VB branding. Valerie mentioned that she has not
heard any opposition to the current branding.

Anthony Carey commented that with the back and forth issues between funding tourism,
he feels we should get the county’s feedback on what criteria—if any—they would like to
see in the RFP. Lee Pavao stated that the branding should be shown to the BOCC but not
for the reason of asking for approval.
Laurie Paolicelli stated that Frank Clifton and she had discussed branding. He agreed
that Chapel Hill is the more known name and host to the hotels and he understood why
we led with the name but he’d like to see the visitors bureau introduce more marketing
programs that benefited the northern part of the county, i.e., agri-tourism.

Mike Gering made a motion for staff to create an RFP. Lee Pavao seconded. With all
members in favor, the motioned was approved. Dave Gephart requested that it go to a
marketing committee first. Anthony Carey as Chair, Mark Sherburne, Dwight Bassett and
Valerie Foushee were elected to serve on the committee.

With that, Dave Gephart gave the floor to Mark Sherburne and Anthony Carey for a hotel
trend report. Mark Sherburne reported that it has been relatively quiet starting the year
and with UNC out. Demand reports are up 0-3% from US group transient. Sherburne
reported that ADR is not improving. He went on to say that UNC Graduation weekend
Friday May 8th, Saturday and Sunday looks very strong. Duke graduation is the weekend
after. Anthony Carey made the comment that as soon as ADR goes up, occupancy goes
away; bookings stop.

Sherburne commented that Priceline rates for Chapel Hill are $35-45/night. The
basketball program has brought strong occupancy and had about 10% displacements.

Sales Report

Linda Ekeland gave a report on group business. Ms. Ekeland reported that January was
busy for her for group sales but they are for year 2012. She stated that 1st tier cities are up
but not Chapel Hill. For good news, Linda reported that one of the Rejuvenate prospects
(Campus Crusades for Christ) signed a contract with the Sheraton for 70 room nights at
the end of this March. The will be returning in May for one night. However, in not so
good news, The Charlotte Road Show was canceled. Out of 250 invites, only 1 RSVP’d.
Linda stated that the reasons are unclear but it could be that Charlotte is so spread out
and/or they don’t want to drive into the city. Linda stated that they might try the Raleigh
Association market.

For upcoming events, Linda reported that the UNC Blitz begins March 8th and 9th with
the luncheon on the 10th. Laura Morgan sent 500 save the dates via email. Per a BOCC
request, Linda reported that she would be meeting with the Women’s Center, the Rape
Crisis Center and the Family Violence and Protection Center and the hotels to discuss the
need of 30 room nights for the year for women in an emergency situation.

Mark Sherburne inquired about Elizabeth Cardin. Linda replied that because of her
physical accident she would not be working for the Bureau and she and Laurie were
exploring new options.
Arts Commission

Martha Shannon reported that the OCAC is partnering with Americans for the Arts on an
economic impact study. It is the first statewide study in NC. The Arts Commission is
working with 80 plus non-profits to hand out surveys to their guests at their special
events. The goal is to receive 800 completed surveys by years end.

Executive Directors Report

Laurie Paolicelli commented on how big an asset staff member Patty Griffin is to the
Visitors Bureau. She then showed the proof of the upcoming 2011 visitors guide that
Patty has been diligently working on. The visitors guide will be geographically
positioned with Hillsborough on one side and Chapel Hill/Orange County on the other.
The Hillsborough section will be eight pages of the 76- page guide.

Continuing her report, Laurie recommended to board members, the contracting of a
research agency dedicated to researching new supply in our area for the cost of one
summer ad or the transfer of $15,000 - $20,000 from the fund balance. The specialists
would determine new group market diversification. An RFP would go out to 3

With that Laurie motioned to continue with the plan to hire a strategic
planning/marketing specialist. Mark Sherburne seconded the motion. With all members
in favor, the motion was passed.

In conclusion, Paolicelli stated that Rick Strunk has been her mentor and an asset to this
board. She then asked Rick to join us for one more meeting in March.


No new business


Chair Gephart commented that the National Trust for Historic Preservation Dozen
Distinctive Destinations event had a full house at the Carolina Inn. Gephart informed
board members that for the next month until March 15th, a contest to win the #1 position
of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations would commence.

Dwight Bassett spoke about a local campaign contracted for 6 months with Chapel Hill
Magazine. The theme is “Open to Business” and “Open for business”. Also sending a
post card mailing, quarterly, to all new corporations within the Triangle region
representing Chapel Hill markets.

Laura Morgan announced the football schedule was out and there are 7 home football
games this season. She also reported that Chancellor Thorp is part of the NACIE
committee and that committee will hold a public forum here in Chapel Hill on March
15th (first time out of Washington). Also announcing a gift from the Blackstone Group,
funding Blackstone Master Entreprenuer, to stimulate. A consortium with State Central
and Duke and Council for Entreprenuerial development. VB will offer trolley tour.


With no other business to discuss, Dave Gephart requested a motion to adjourn the
meeting, Lee Pavao so moved with Rick Strunk seconding. Meeting was adjourned at
9:29 a.m.

_______________________________             _________________________________
Minutes Drafted by:                         Minutes Accepted by:
Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director       Dave Gephart, Chairman

________________________________            _________________________________
Date                                        Date

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