The key new stipulation is that a consultant be engaged "to review the organizational, board and management structure of the TMCVB," as stated in the Telluride agreement.
The two towns, along with San Miguel County, provide the bulk of the CVB's funding, reallocating to it business license fees and lodging taxes that they collect. The funds are dedicated by statute to tourist marketing. The three governments will meet on Jan. 10, when plans to hire a consultant will be discussed, including the possibility that they will share in the costs of the study.
In a related development this week, the director of the CVB for the past 18 months has submitted his resignation on Wednesday. Leary O'Gorman, who came to Telluride from the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, will work through Jan. 15.
O'Gorman's performance became an issue discussed by the board of the CVB at a closed meeting last month. But the decision by the three local governments who provide the bulk of the organization's funding to require a study of the CVB's operations as a condition of next year's funding suggests that at least some observers believe the problems within the regional marketing organization are not restricted to the executive director's office.
In public meetings, some members of the CVB board have sharply criticized the organization's marketing plan for next year. There has also been controversy surrounding a failed effort to merge the CVB's website with the website operated by the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., with some members of the board pushing hard for the merger to be completed as quickly as possible and others protesting that the effort was being rushed. Historically, the CVB has marketed the summer season only, leaving winter marketing to Telski. But there has been new pressure for Telski and the CVB to work jointly on year-round marketing. Members of the CVB board have expressed frustration about the organization's inability to provide timely statistics to gauge the effectiveness of its marketing efforts. Finally, a perennial marketing question is being asked with greater than the usual urgency: Who are we?
In response to the discord, the three local governments have held informal talks about the need to reform the organization in the last few weeks, Telluride Town Manager Jay Harrington told the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday. The fruit of those talks has apparently been the requirement for an outside study of how the bureau is structured.
"The organization's board members are almost to a person in support of" conducting the proposed study, CVB president Bill Marshall told council. But Marshall added that a proposed schedule of withholding a portion of town funds until the study is completed would put the CVB into debt and make it difficult or impossible to launch the CVB's summer marketing plan.
Telluride Mayor John Pryor responded that there was no intention to hamstring the CVB.
"The hope is that we would be able to have a consulting firm in place in the first quarter," said Councilmember Stu Fraser, who has served on the CVB board.
There has been a sense of urgency to conduct the study quickly, Fraser added, to enable the CVB to move forward with the most effective marketing possible as quickly as possible.
Council agreed to loosen the purse strings, prior to unanimously adopting the agreement.
Later the same day, Marshall appeared before the Mountain Village Town Council, where he was asked to provide greater detail about the CVB's marketing plan, adopted with reservations by the CVB board last week.
He told council that the plan is "dynamic" and will evolve and improve based on new guest survey information. He recited a number of areas that the CVB board has said are areas for improvement. They include developing a better definition of "who we are"; defining a new process for adopting future marketing plans; developing a plan to improve the Visitors Information Center; developing a better "green" marketing plan; better coordinating ongoing marketing efforts by independent businesses in the community; developing a single web site, with Telski, to promote the region; and emphasizing local arts in marketing efforts.
Like their Telluride counterparts, the Mountain Village Council expressed strong support for commissioning the study to look at the CVB's operations.