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AGENDA PREVIEW: COUNCIL / TBID JOINT WORKSHOP, OCTOBER 30, 2023
Council meets Monday at 5pm in the Freedom Plaza gym to rethink the Tourism Business Improvement District and its $350,000 budget
Of all the issues facing Twentynine Palms, only the sewer has consumed more oxygen than the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). TBID was formed in 2017 as an initiative of out-going City Manager Frank Luckino who believes that “the endgame is to bring more people to the city.”1
TBID is funded by a 1.5% surcharge on accommodations paid by guests and collected by hotel, motel and STR owners who pass it onto the City. The budget is controlled by the TBID at the behest of City Council, who remained hands-off until a $560,000 reserve was revealed during the last reauthorization process.
TBID is comprised of five volunteer hotel/motel and STRs owners, all with businesses in Twentynine Palms. However, several do not reside in the City. They are supported by a paid Marketing Director, who was hired with little prior experience in the tourism marketing field and who also resides elsewhere.2 The TBID produces and manages visit29.org.
The TBID priorities (or lack thereof) went from months of smoldering levels of dissatisfaction to a firestorm that took over two City Council meetings. On September 12, Council voted 3-2 to end the TBID, partially based on misrepresentations spread during angry public comment where stakeholders cloaked who actually paid the assessment and tried to disenfranchise STRs by arguing their permits were invalid due to ADA regulations. Council then did a 5-0 reversal, reauthorizing the TBID in a special meeting called on September 18 where several City stalwarts, including now-Interim City Manager Larry Bowden, recommended keeping the TBID but rethinking its operations.
Which lands us at what’s billed as a “Joint Workshop,” led by consultants from New Deal Hospitality, and located at the Freedom Plaza gym on Monday, October 30, from 5-7pm.
Since 2018, Public Comment has taken place at the conclusion of Council sessions; it has been flipped to the front of this special joint workshop.
The discussion items are below, each followed by a question for public comment. We recommend reviewing the agenda, which has some additional detail and also links to the 2023-2024 TBID Marketing Plan and Budget :
TBID Structure + Objectives
Do you feel this organizational structure and TBID's objectives set a foundation for its success in upcoming fiscal years?
Are TBID budget allocations aligned with expectations for investment in tourism and destination marketing?
Tourism Pillars of Focus
Does the community agree with the areas of focus under the Tourism Pillars?
What are marketing strategies that you have seen in other cities that you found interesting and effective?
What are 1-2 realistic success metrics you feel would best inform you of the tourism growth and success?
What kinds of events do you feel would best deliver on the TBID's statement objectives and Tourism Pillars?
The session concludes with optional “Networking and Informal Discussion.”
With 2023 fast coming to a close, it will be interesting to assess how much can be accomplished in a single two-hour session with only two City Council meetings scheduled for the remainder of the year.
Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our live chat in the Substack app. Please note that we do not allow anonymous comments. Please be sure your first and last name is on your profile prior to commenting. Anonymous comments will be deleted.
Schauppner, Kurt, “Help shape future of tourism district,” Hi-Desert Star / The Desert Trail, October 27, 2023