Electronic billboards the advertising method of choice.
The Tourism Development Authority addressed some lingering issues facing the board at Tuesday evening's meeting which served as a continuation of last week's meeting.
When considering the budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1, a few key components were discussed by the members at the meeting.
Last week Premiere Marketing presented a marketing plan that would focus on advertising outside of Franklin, largely in the Atlanta area. The plan would also utilize social networking sites, Facebook and Google Adwords, which causes Franklin to show up in the search engine's results when people search keywords that link them to Franklin.
The board agreed to move forward with the plan and member Josh Drake agreed to get the contract from the Atlanta-based company as soon as possible.
Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts put in a request for $30,000-50,000 to help with marketing.
“I don't know if we should be funding them at all,” said member Leland Rykse, owner of Signs Express Inc. “I mean, with or without our help, they are going to keep advertising.”
Chairman Candy Arvey referred to the high number of guests the Microtel Motel serves as a result of the shows hosted by the performing arts center. Arvey is the manager of Microtel, a division of Drake Enterprises who also owns the performing arts center.
“But we do have to keep in mind how many people they bring in,” she said. “We fill up when there is a show going on.”
Drake proposed instead of committing the money, to put it under “other” in the budget for now and decide a course of action at July's meeting where representatives of the center will be invited for discussion.
“We have to keep in mind this is a proposed budget. We can change things if we need to,” said Drake.
The budget he proposed would give $25,000 to festivals, down from $30,000, and $35,000 for digital billboards, $10,000 for Facebook, $15,000 for Google Adwords, and $15,000 to be put towards “other” means. Rykse seconded the budget, which passed unanimously.
“We also need to keep in mind that the point of helping these festivals is for them to eventually be self-sufficient,” noted Arvey. “We have to make that clear to them.”
Another issue that has been facing the TDA is that they have committed their services to the Folk Festival that will take place in July. The problem is that they were using Allison Outdoor Advertising's billboards to advertise for the festival and since the contract with the company will not be renewed for the upcoming year, the service concludes as of June 20, leaving the TDA without billboards for which they have already committed.
“As a result of this dilemma, I have called our contact at the company to check prices for an additional month,” said Summer Woodard. “We have some options. There is one currently in Sylva that won't have to be changed out that we can continue to use, but the other one is located on the Highlands Road and it has already been sold. After June 20, somebody else will be using it, but there are two we can consider. There is one in Dillsboro and another on the Georgia Road in front of Eller and Owens Furniture.”
To avoid two boards being in close proximity, the board unanimously agreed to fund the extra month of advertising and to place the new board at the Georgia Road location. The project will cost $610 and will leave the board with a little more than $100 to close out this fiscal year on June 30.
Woodard proposed a new application process that would lay out a deadline process for applicants who wish to get funding.
“This is just to get it in your heads so we can start considering this stuff before we get too far into the next fiscal year,” she said. “We could put out a notice that people who wish to apply for funding need to have their applications in by Sept. 20.”
After much discussion, the members offered different opinions about the deadlines.
“I'm not really sure about having a deadline so early in the year,” said Drake. “The problem here is that you may have people who have never done this before and they may have problems with the whole process.”
Ideas about making the process more structured were tossed around and the board agreed that applicants did need to get applications submitted in a timely fashion.
“We could even just start getting it into their heads for next year, but in the past we've had people trying to get grant requests put on the agenda the day before the meeting,” said Woodard.
In the upcoming year, the TDA will also require project reports to be turned in after the event or festival to describe participant numbers and different approaches that may be used in the next year.
“In the past we've haven't had a good success rate of getting these turned in,” said Arvey. “We have to require these, especially if it is a recurring event because it goes back to the process of them becoming self-sufficient over time. We have to see that the money is being put to good use.”
No solid action was taken, but the issue will likely be revisited at next month's meeting that will take place on Monday, July 8, at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.