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A new year

Madison tourism board pursues
similar plan in 2010 as last year

Budgets show that festivals
held their own in a tough year

By Don Ward
Editor

(February 2010) – Operating on a slightly larger budget, the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to continue developing new products in 2010 and oversee its three festivals, Christmas home tour and Taste of Madison events.

Linda Lytle

"Considering the kind of year we had with the economy, we are pleased with our success in 2009."
– Linda Lytle, Executive Director, Madison Area CVB

The nine-member board and three-person staff met Jan. 29 for its annual retreat and strategic planning session at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, where the 2010 budget of $350,616 was reviewed after having been approved at a previous meeting. The number reflects an increase from last year’s $338,655 budget. Part of the increase stems from a 3 percent salary increase for CVB staffers and a $2,000 increase for Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art coordinator Georgie Kelly, to $26,500. The stipend for Madison Ribberfest coordinator Kathy Ayers remains the same at $16,320 after having been raised last year. Both coordinator salaries come out of their festivals’ respective budgets but are included in the CVB’s over budget totals.
Also in the budget for the first time is $6,000 to pay the newly hired Ohio River Valley Folk Festival coordinator John Walburn. The success and growth of that event generated enough profit this year to warrant the creation of a paid coordinator. Walburn had previously held that post as an unpaid volunteer coordinator.
CVB Executive Director Linda Lytle guided the meeting, which covered a myriad of issues and a review of the board’s goalsetting agenda. The board welcomed a newcomer to the board, Peter Woodburn of Woodburn Kyle & Co. He replaced outgoing Corey Murphy as the representative for Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County. The rest of the board remains the same as last year (see box, page 15).
The board voted to make A.J. Mistry of Hillside Inn and Best Way Inn the president for 2010. Renie Stephens of Holiday Inn Express was voted to vice president. Jenny Eggenspiller of Madison City Hall will serve as secretary and Lucy Dattilo of Something Simple retail store as treasurer. Dattilo had previously served as the board president.
The board also voted to change its regular meeting time to noon on the fourth Monday of each month. That follows the regularly scheduled 9 a.m. meeting time on the same day for the Jefferson County Board of Tourism, the taxing authority created to receive and distribute monthly innkeepers tax from the state. Two CVB board members – Mistry and Stephens – serve on both boards.

2010 CVB Board

A.J. Mistry, president, Best Way Inn/Hillside Inn (Jefferson County Board of Tourism); Renie Stephens, vice president, Holiday Inn Express (Jefferson County Board of Tourism); Jenny Eggenspiller, secretary, Madison City Hall (Mayor’s appointment); Lucy Dattilo, treasurer, Something Simple (At-Large from retail community); Kevin Watkins, Pets Doc (Madison Area Chamber of Commerce); Peter Woodburn, Woodburn Kyle & Co. (Economic Development partners of Jefferson County); John Staicer, Historic Madison Inc. (At-Large from historical sites); Jim Crone, Hanover College (Jefferson County Council); Bob Schoenstein, City Councilman (Madison City Council)

• The board meets at noon on the fourth Monday of each month at 601 W. First St.

A discussion ensued about the $105,000 in the budget dedicated to tourism marketing, which is handled by part-time staff member Ann Mulligan. Although the marketing total is included in the CVB’s budget, Lytle explained that Mulligan actually reports to the other board, the JCBT, regarding tourism marketing. At last year’s strategic session, an attempt was made to allow the CVB to have input on marketing, but that attempt failed. It remains under the sole purview of the JCBT.
Mulligan said that $25,000 of the marketing budget is earmarked each year to produce the annual Madison Visitors Guide. That leaves only $80,000 for advertising, trade shows, website management, and promoting family and group tours. Although the three major festivals operate under the umbrella of the CVB, each festival committee manages its own bank account and pays for its own advertising, brochures and websites, Mulligan explained.
Last year, the Madison Ribberfest, by far the most lucrative in net profit at $11,356, was down somewhat from the $18,391 it earned in 2008. The Madison Chautauqua, in contrast, does not earn as much in net profit, but Lytle said the event is by far the largest single event in the region and generates much more economic impact to the community.
“Chautauqua brings more people in, and they stay longer, and they spend more money at our shops and restaurants,” Lytle said. The Chautauqua reported a net profit of $6,302 last year, compared with $1,606 in 2008.

Madison Festivals in 2009

The following festivals operate under the umbrella of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

• Ohio River Valley Folk Festival (May 2009)
$81,437 = expenses
$88,162 = income
$6,724 = net profit
$1,503 = net profit in 2008
$81,000 = 2010 budget (approx.)
Coordinator stipend (John Walburn) = $6,000

• Madison Ribberfest
(August 2009)
$283,344 = expenses
$294,700 = income
$11,356 = net profit
$18,391 = net profit in 2008
$297,120 = 2010 budget
$30,000 = amount of savings invested in C.D.s
Coordinator stipend (Kathy Ayers) = $16,320

• Madison Chautauqua
(Sept. 2009)
$97,908 = expenses
$104,210 = income
$6,302 = net profit
$1,606 = net profit in 2008
$98,000 = 2010 budget (approx.)
$54,097 = amount of savings invested in C.D.s
Coordinator stipend (Georgie Kelly) = $26,500

• Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
(Nov.-Dec. 2009)
$15,159 = expenses
$34,470 = income
$21,775 = net profit (CVB receives half; historic sites divide the balance)
$18,100 = net profit in 2008
$38,000 = 2010 budget
Coordinator: CVB staff member Marci Jones

Source: Festival chair reports to the CVB Board.

The Folk Festival, now entering its fifth year, struggled in the early years but last year “broke out” with a significant net profit in 2009 for the first time. The Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Home Tour also produced a healthy profit of $21,774, of which the CVB received half, with the balance split among the participating historic sites.
Even the Taste of Madison, held in March at Clifty Inn and revived last year after a long hiatus, was considered a success, generating a profit of $2,000, Lytle said.
In all, the festivals paid back to the CVB $66,500 in income for services rendered to assist in ticket sales, staffing and website promotions. Some of the money earned from these festivals is returned to the community in the form of donations, sponsorships of certain activities and in high school scholarships. The balance is invested in Certificates of Deposit at a local bank to earn interest. Lytle says the CDs are “rainy day funds so that should we ever have a bad year, we can still hold the events.”
The board reviewed its long-term goals. Much discussion focused on someday moving the CVB into another location that might also serve as a performing and visual arts center that would include a gift shop operated by the tourism staff. Currently, the CVB is located in a building at 601 W. First St. owned by the state of Indiana and also houses its Lanier Mansion administrative offices. The Lanier Mansion Foundation operates the gift shop. Lytle said the CVB staff is cramped for space, having only its one office for three employees, the front desk for the receptionist and one storage room. Woodburn suggested forming a task force to explore the feasibility and cost of moving to another location, including the possibility of co-locating with other agencies.
The CVB does not pay rent for its space at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, and moving is likely to entail significant costs and rent payments. The City of Madison provided a substantial sum to help renovate the former Boys and Girls Club when the state took it over in 2003, and the agreement provided for rent-free space for the CVB for as long as it wants to stay there.
Lytle also reported to the board that despite the poor economy last year, the county’s innkeepers tax revenues were only down 1 percent. Innkeepers tax is the primary funding source for the county’s tourism office, staff and activities.
“Considering the kind of year we had with the economy, we are pleased with our success in 2009,” Lytle said.

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