Chamber and visitors authority to have separate managers under reorganization |

Chamber and visitors authority to have separate managers under reorganization

by Scott Neuffer

Charged with two different economic missions, the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority is planning to give each arm under its umbrella more attention in the form of management.

On Wednesday, leaders of the organization announced that Executive Director Bill Chernock will be focusing solely on the chamber, and that a new director will be hired to oversee the visitors authority. They hope to advertise, interview and fill the position by springtime.

Chernock explained how the visitors authority was incorporated with the chamber in the mid 1980s. It has its own board, but it shares a manager with the entire organization.

“The structure has exceeded the ability of one person to be effective in both arenas,” Chernock said. “I can’t do justice to both at the same time.”

While the chamber is funded mainly through member dues, the visitors authority is funded through the transiency occupancy tax. The chamber focuses on the local business community, enhancing the business climate, and representing individual members. The visitors authority focuses on the tourist markets and attracting visitors to the area.

If both arms do their jobs right, the results are mutually beneficial.

“A lot of businesses fall into both areas and will be better served by this structure,” said Carson Valley Inn’s Bill Henderson, treasurer of the visitors authority.

The reorganization comes weeks before the rollout of a branding initiative to boost tourism.

Last year, the chamber and visitors authority budgeted $75,000 to hire North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville, Tenn. The company has since been conducting research in Carson Valley, compiling data on its inhabitants and product offerings, as well as investigating outside tourist markets.

The company is expected to deliver a strong and identifiable brand for Carson Valley in about a month. The “active selling phase” will be the focus of the visitors authority going into the warm season.

“There are too many opportunities being lost,” Henderson said. “When people were doing good and flocking everywhere, tourism kind of took care of itself. That’s not the case anymore.”

Carson Valley Golf Course’s Tom Brooks, visitors authority chair, said the brand will mark the beginning of a new and intense mission for the visitors authority.

“It’s not the finish line, it’s the starting line,” he said.

“If the brand is executed and developed properly, it’s the type of thing that restaurants, the towns, the arts council and museums should embrace and reinforce,” Chernock added.

There is a question of what chamber members can expect from the reorganization.

“The change will be most noticeable for the chamber, because they’ll have more resources now,” Chernock said. “I give both boards a lot of credit for getting this started. We’re really positioned to do some good things.”