Del Mar Council calls for more progress, financial reporting of Tourism Business Improvement District

By Claire Harlin

Del Mar City Council members voiced frustration on March 4 that the city’s Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) has made little progress since its incorporation three years ago, while it continues to collect money.

The sentiment followed an update on the TBID and its Visit Del Mar campaign, presented by Michelle McCue of McCue Marketing Communications, which was hired by the TBID last September to steer branding efforts. Under the TBID, those efforts, meant to promote overnight stays in Del Mar, are funded by the hotels’ share of 1 percent of gross short-term room rental revenue in the city.

While Mayor Terry Sinnott said the report on marketing efforts was great, he said he would like to see a full report of accomplishments — “the kind of thing I think every year the TBID is supposed to come forward with to report the finances, report the results, report the accomplishments, in addition to what you still have on your plate to achieve,” he said.

While Councilman Don Mosier agreed the marketing efforts presented were “nice,” he said the council is not yet seeing the return on investment it anticipated when it authorized the TBID.

To date, the firm has designed a logo and tagline, “Your California Dream,” as well as developed a website that McCue said will launch in April. The site will feature a destination video to be shot next weekend, as well offer a “plan your trip” function and show hotel bookings and availability — which will help measure the success of the marketing campaign, McCue said. Public relations efforts and media kits are also being developed.

McCue said there is currently a balance of $213,000 for efforts including marketing, web development, photography, direct mail and administrative costs. Expenditures for 2013 are estimated at $165,000. About $30,000 is set aside for streetscape, according to McCue’s presentation.

Councilwoman Sherryl Parks said while much is being done in the realm of the Visit Del Mar website and marketing efforts, she would like to see more being done with the streetscape, as was originally proposed.

She also said she would like to see more reporting and feedback on the dollars used, pointing out that last month the TBID spent more than $6,000, which multiplied by 12 months, could account to more than $115,000 annually.

One problem presented as being a reason for slow progress is the fact that there are only five lodging businesses in Del Mar and therefore only five members on the TBID board, making it hard to achieve a quorum.

Parks suggested adding more, non-hotel members to the board, however, Mosier said the non-profit’s rules were purposely written to limit the board membership to hotel owners.