January 21, 2015 - 12:06 PM
PENTICTON - It’s a new year for the Penticton Hospitality Association as the conflicts of last year between city and the PHA fade into history.
“We’re delighted last year is behind us, for a number of reasons. We’re looking forward to a fresh start,” operations director for PHA Tim Hodgkinson said.
Hodgkinson did not elaborate on last year’s dispute with the city, which ended in a B.C. Supreme Court decision in favour of the Penticton Hospitality Association.
“There are lots of theories as to why the city instigated the course of action they took. Like any other city, there are conflicts between groups. It started a long time ago.”
Hodgkinson said with new faces on council this year, everyone is forward facing and interested in collaboration.
“We have a chance to build a vibrant tourist sector for the first time in many years," he said. "I’m very excited. This will allow the PHA to build on previous successes on behalf of the whole community."
Hodgkinson adds the growth seen in hotel room tax revenue over the last two years comes from advertising to the right people to bring them into town.
Hodgkinson was asked about criticism voiced recently over the association’s practice of donating funds to local organizations.
“There’s a bit of a misconception about that. The biggest issue is people don’t see what we do because we don’t market in Penticton,” he said. “All our marketing is done outside, or to help those organizations that are in a position to bring in outside visitors. That’s the way it’s always been.”
The association recently made a public presentation of a cheque to the Penticton Peach Festival, but no dollar figure was provided. When asked what the amount was, Hodgkinson replied, “I’d love to tell you but we don’t want to steal their thunder. They’re going to make an announcement about that.”
PHA president Robert Appelman said getting the word 'Penticton' out there is the goal, along with letting people know what there is to do in town. PHA works on core marketing in addition to advertising events.
“We may not hit the people directly for each event, so we don’t mind helping out and giving those events money so they can hit directly,” Appelman said, adding the association’s goal is to try and expand existing events, in part by attracting families of the participants. Another way the association is trying to expand tourism is through funding of “overlapping” or similar events, such as Challenge Penticton and Granfondo Axel Merck Okanagan.
“They’re both fighting for advertising dollars, but we’re saying, 'why can’t you overlap it a little bit, we’ll give you money, but you guys double advertise in one ad.' It’s how we like to do things, get them talking together, maybe one organization sees something in another organization that could benefit them.”
Appelman said since he’s been in Penticton, he has noticed a lot of organizations don’t seem to talk, and the association is making an effort to enhance communications, especially between organizations that might have something in common with each other.
Hodgkinson said the city’s hotel tax has been rising steadily since the PHA was given control of the funds, and the tax is generating nearly $500,000 annually.
Appelman said along with the money returned to the association that was withheld by the city during their legal dispute, the association now has extra money on hand for “big things that may pop up.”
Hodgkinson said rather than spending it all on one hit, which wouldn’t be a commercially astute thing to do, they'd rather supplement existing projects with this additional money, and stagger it over the course of two years.
“It’s good to have that excess, because you never know what the next year is going to bring,” added Appelman. He said current economic conditions look like future marketing efforts may pay off in the U.S., as the Canadian dollar and fuel prices decline. As well, he notes there's going to be a push from the city to create another two or three events.
Robert Appelman serves as President of the Penticton Hospitality Association.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Tim Hodgkinson
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015