Hotel Association Will Weigh in on Destination Marketing Discussion

March 31st, 2012 by Desiree Parker

Key members of the Historic Triangle’s tourism industry are gearing up to create a more focused destination marketing association, and the local hotel association wants to continue to be included in the discussion.

Since December, several tourism heavy hitters have been looking at whether the Historic Triangle has a real destination marketing organization. The Williamsburg Area Destination Marketing Committee (WADMC), an organization created to promote overnight visitation to the Triangle by using an extra $2 tax per room/per night on hotel stays, started talking about whether the area has a true destination marketing organization (called a DMO). The Historic Triangle Collaborative, a group made up of many of the same members, has also been discussing the issue, as has the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance.

The James City County Board of Supervisors heard Tuesday that discussions indicate the Alliance will likely become the new DMO, with the roughly $3 million WADMC budget funneled there (read a detailed story on this here). The Williamsburg Hotel Motel Association has been working to be included in the DMO decision-making process (the group has a vote on WADMC), but after hearing Tuesday’s discussion the WHMA is coming up with its own proposal.

WHMA President Billy Scruggs said his organization sees the DMO scenario presented to supervisors as “a possibility,” but “the WHMA board is in the process of gathering information to make its recommendations on what this DMO’s responsibilities would be, how it would be structured, and how it would be funded.”

The WHMA wants to be sure more businesses and organizations are part of the conversation. “We… have encouraged community leaders to continue to work collectively with all stakeholders,” Scruggs said.

“This includes the Alliance, but also includes the Hotel Association, the Restaurant Association, retailers and the myriad attractions and entertainment businesses throughout the Historic Triangle, which would yield a comprehensive approach for long-term success.”

The WHMA and the Alliance have had a rocky relationship that bubbled over in July 2009, when several hotels (and restaurants) withdrew from membership in the Alliance, citing dissatisfaction with the Alliance’s tourism leadership. (Read a comprehensive story on that period here). Since that time, the WHMA has been working on its own to promote local tourism by continuing to market and book guests through its own website and launching a new Tourist Information Center.

Ironically, local hoteliers are the ones responsible for the drive to create WADMC, as they were looking for a way to generate more tax from their industry and create a fund to market tourism. Now it looks as though the $2 per night tax governed by WADMC, which they have some say over with a vote on WADMC, could be shifted into the hands of the Alliance.

Scruggs also said of the DMO discussion, “the resources and assets of the Alliance could certainly be the foundation upon which a new, more inclusive and expanded organization, with governance reflective of the new structure, could be built with broader scope.

“Bringing all of the effort, messaging and tourism destination services together would be more efficient and effective.”

James City County Administrator Robert Middaugh told supervisors that he expected to hear more definite news about the DMO talks in a few months. “This important conversation will lead to a critical decision with long-term impact on our community,” Scruggs said.


7 Responses to Hotel Association Will Weigh in on Destination Marketing Discussion

  1. Let Me Understand

    March 31, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    So let me understand, the hotels pay the tax that they originally asked for, but they only have one vote. How many votes are there? Shouldn’t the hotels be the ones directing this DMO since they pay for it. What do the attractions or others involved pay to have a vote?

  2. if i understand...

    April 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    it’s actually the visitors who pay the tax. i think visitors deserve a seat at the table.

  3. reconstruction

    April 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

    “tear down the old motels/hotels” as Reagan might say. Now that is marketing!

  4. To if I understand

    April 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Spoken like a true benefactor of the public trough. Yes, the hotel guest pays the tax, but its the hotel that has to charge it and bear the wrath of a guest who demands an explaination of all these taxes. I don’t see the attractions having to explain anything, I don’t see any of the attorneys or accountants or professors have to explain anything to their customers. AND, dont forget the hotels still have to charge a sales tax and a room tax. How many more taxes can one industry pay and still NOT have a fair representation in a group that decides what to spend that money on.
    Enjoy the Public Trough, it cant last forever. And then, you have to actually go out and get a job that actually produces something. Only then will you feel taken advantage of like the rest of us small business owners.

  5. Great Idea

    April 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    It would be great for the hotels to have a major say in how the money should be spent to market our area except they can’t agree on much between themselves. For years they have riden the coat tails of the major attractions depending on them to bring visitors to the area.

  6. To Great Idea

    April 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Now thats a pretty ignorant comment. Please show me any industry that has 100% agreement. Its called healthy debate. In the end, there’s a vote and a plan is born. The difference is that the discussion is among those with “skin in the game” and the decision will be in the best interest of all of those that have to pay into the fund. Its amazing how so many people not in the hotel industry think they have the best ideas,but if they are wrong, no skin off their back, right??

  7. The truth

    April 5, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Let’s be clear – hotel owners/operators are and have been involved in all destination marketing groups. The WHMA has two seats (one non-voting) on WADMC. The manager of the destination’s largest hotel, Kingsmill, heads the Marketing Task Force. Hoteliers are involved in all relevant committees of the Tourism Alliance. The beef here is that the Hotel ASSOCIATION is worried it won’t be calling the shots. They say they want the lodging industry involved, but not if it’s the the people who run successful places like CW hotels, Kingsmill, Great Wolf, timeshares and other properties that operate independently of the WHMA.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login