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2023/07/19MASON COUNTY LODGING TAX ADVISORY COMMITTEE Meeting Minutes 411 North 5tH Street, Shelton, WA 98584 Wednesday, July 19, 2023 9:00 a.m. Meeting was held hybrid — in -person and via Zoom. Members in attendance: Chair Sharon Trask, Rachel Hansen, Deidre Peterson, John DeLeva, Greg Oldham and Duane Wilson. Absent: Shaun Tucker. Chair Trask called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. Approval of Minutes Deidre/Duane moved and seconded to approve the April 19, 2023 minutes. Motion carried. Review Proposals for 2024 Visitor Services Board members reviewed the proposals received in response to the Request for Proposals for 2024 visitor services. There is $204,000 available for award. Hoodsport Visitor Center and Townhall Bailey Fuentes presented a proposal to build a Hoodsport Visitor Center and Townhall. The intent is to attract more visitors by using unique architecture and bring the community together. The request is for $204,000. Questions: Purchase of building — he would talk to building owner and use the LTAC money. John Deleva agreed that the concept is good with using iconic places to attract tourism but this proposal is lacking in the budget area. Mason County Historical Museum Liz Arbaugh presented the proposal for operating expenses for the Mason County Historical Museum. The request is for $25,000. The Museum creates exhibits to attract visitors and they use an app. The museum participates in a car show as a fund raiser. John Deleva - would like to align the hours with when visitors come in. He realizes they rely on volunteer labor. Liz said downtown Shelton is very quiet on Sundays but they have considered changing their hours, especially if other businesses were open. Rachel —feels museums are important as a destination and should receive money on its own merits, not as a VIC. Shelton Mason County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Centers Deidre Peterson presented the proposal for the VIC's operated by the Chamber in Shelton and Hoodsport. The request is for $152,971 with the majority of the funding supporting the Hoodsport VIC, the goal is to add a half-time person enabling them to expand their hours. They have a US Forest Service Ranger on site and issue hiking permits. The Hoodsport location is open to the public Thursday through Monday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during peak season (June to September) and Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the remainder of the year (October to May). They would like to improve their digital services by adding self -serve kiosk or screen style amenities. Visitor services is 32% of the Chamber's budget. LTAC Meeting Minutes —July 19, 2023 Revenues - $55K in maps and passes; $5K received from Forest Service; merchandise revenue amount was not available. Rent expense is for Hoodsport and 25% of caboose and Chamber office rent. John asked about digital content. Deidre - idea is that this will augment existing digital information and personalized service. Sharon — Sunday coverage. The caboose is only open when the Chamber office is open. Deidre — proposal is for an additional half time person and they could use that person to increase hours, depending on visitor traffic. North Mason Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Centers Rod Olsen presented the request for the North Mason Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Centers which includes locations in Belfair and Union. The request is for $56,000. The Belfair office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Union location is at Hunter Farms and is open year-round but staffed during May through October, Friday — Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. Visitors are tracked along with those obtaining their license tabs. One-third of the building rent is for the VIC. John asked about training the rest of the town (general small businesses that interact with visitors). It was agreed this is an important element and Rachel has been promoting this concept. Rachel has held workshops for local businesses and put together the Wild Side Guide to put the information in the hands of the businesses. Tourism Support Services Rachel Hansen, NEO, stated tourism promotion is sustaining all businesses that support visitors. She believes authentic, meaningful experiences are where tourism is going. Rachel spoke to advancing digital technologies using multiple platforms, including cell phones and apps. It's important to have current, relevant information. Tracking analytics is important to have real data to know the visitor impact on the county. The request is for $127,500 and proposes using kiosks/progressive web app/software modules. Rachel owns and operates the Oyster Bank in Hoodsport as a Welcome Center and said the most popular brochure is the Hikes Guide and visitors want ideas on what to do in the area. The proposal includes training local businesses as advocates. They have had over 16K visitors. She stressed the importance of keeping a consistent brand and image for Mason County tourism. Kiosks are expensive and would need to be located in businesses that are open a lot and visitors visit, such as grocery stores and gas stations. Rachel is proposing we work towards kiosks and start with using a progressive web app. From experience, John said to not go cheap on a kiosk. Including advertising in the kiosks could generate revenue. Discussion of how an app would be used. Rachel — provide a reason for a person to download the app, such as providing hiking maps and this provides tracking of visitors. LTAC Meeting Minutes —July 19, 2023 Award Process Discussion of how to award the lodging tax and is it time to change the model towards one contract that provides all tourism promotion and development, visitor services, social media and small festival support. John would like to have another meeting to discuss the awards. A meeting will be scheduled on August 2, 2023 at 10 a.m. in Commission Chambers. LTAC membership Rachel Hansen has been appointed to a spender position on the LTAC. 2023 2nd Quarter Reports The 2nd quarter reports were emailed to members for review. Other Business - none Public Comment — Bailey Fuentes clarified that what he is requesting funding to get his proposal moving forward. Diane pointed out that lodging tax can be used for capital improvements only when the facility is owned by a public entity. Calendar - The next meeting is August 2, 2023, 10 a.m. and then October 18, 2023 at 9 a.m. and will be held hybrid. The meeting schedule is the 3rd Wednesday, 9 a.m. every quarter —January, April, July and October. Adjourn The meeting ended at 10:50 a.m. LODGING TAX ADVISORY COMMITTEE MASON COUNTY, WASHINGTON Chair