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State of the Chamber – Annual Meeting

2019 State of the Chamber

September 6, 2019

Annual meeting wrap up commentary:

Do you know what these numbers represent? I’ll tell you at the end!

2011-12 $683,545.42

2017-18 #1,114,582.02

I’d like to thank all those who attended the annual meeting! We had 41 people in attendance representing 26 businesses and events…Seems like this is the one time of the year that we all get together. Thanks to our volunteer Chamber Board, who has spent hours and hours working to keep the Chamber operational and moving forward…Although I was in the position of the Chamber President, the board works closely to discuss and approve all contracts and financial decisions; I do not act as an individual…

It was also my pleasure to thank and re-introduce our office staff first, Julie Vanderdassan, you may know Julie, she actually started in the office part-time more than several years ago and when the Tombstone Court House manager position came we were all too happy to hire her as the court house manger! Cassandra Greisner….Cassandra is a local and was initially working as the lead at Boothill Graveyard Gift Shop but decided to take a position in the Chamber office, both of these ladies have a huge heart for Tombstone…if you haven’t already met them, please feel free to introduce yourself! Last but not least I’d like to thank Amanda Bailey from Cochise County.  Amanda is currently the Cochise County Public Information Officer and the Chair of the Cochise County Tourism Board. Among her vast array of experiences, Amanda has also served a Chamber Executive Director of the Sierra Vista Chamber...she spoke about what’s happing around Cochise County and about travel and tourism trends in Arizona…

I expressed my excitement for our wonderful and unique city of Tombstone Arizona but my great disappointment and frustration with the current situation in Tombstone…Over the last 7 years; I had been able to say that each year we were able to hit the ground running with a refreshed marketing plan and with an expanded reach. I was able to report that we had monitored and adjust the Chamber’s marketing plan, steadily increased the marketing reach for Tombstone, however, due to theft, which was discovered and reported by myself, the city has chosen to not renew the contract for the Boothill Gift Shop. With the non-renewal for the management of Boothill, the over-all ability and responsibility to create and monitor a successful marketing program for the City of Tombstone. As I told you in the Email Blast I sent out previously, as of June 30th the majority of Tombstone’s advertising contracts have run out.  Currently, on a month-by-month basis we are still receiving a PORTION of the bed tax…When I say a portion, I’m assuming you’ve all read my Email Blasts explaining how the bed tax started in Tombstone, how it is distributed, how we don’t know how much bed tax there actually is and that the bed tax is designated to the Chamber by the City…if you haven’t read those emails you can go back and take a look.

As far as current advertising, to my knowledge, the only formal advertising in place are the rack cards and bill boards (which will run out at the end of September) and an agreement with Channel 13 and the city. Independently, the Chamber Board has also chosen to renew an agreement with Wowsers Web Design to keep the Facebooks and websites active, along with the many other detailed responsibilities associated with those services …It is my understanding that some sort of Marketing has been proposed from someone in the city but at this time I’m not sure what that entails… The City Council has copies of all of our budgets, contracts and the annual accountability reports for the advertising I have given them over the years so I am sure they will use that as a starting point, however, I also believe that they not aware how much time, effort, and Tombstone market-related knowledge it takes to consistently and successfully monitor and adjust those efforts.  In addition to the knowledge and time related to the program we had created, our advertisers had locked in certain price points for us as a Chamber. We shall see and I will continue to pass along the information I receive in the email blasts so please read them!

So let me continue and let you know what we have been doing…In this email there will be a link to the 2018-19 advertising accountability report. Each year I have been president the Chamber has worked with partners to accumulate data that demonstrates the effectiveness of the money that was spent on advertising... To my knowledge no one has EVER given an account of the effectiveness of public funds that were distributed for a purpose…this type of report was not required by the contract  between the city and the Chamber, it was our extra step to show how successfully we had invested the public funds. 

If you review the link with the Annual Accountability Report you will find that 2018/2019 was busy fulfilling promotional objectives, which in turn, promoted the success of individual businesses and local events…During 2019/20 our goals will not change in concept, but due to lack of substantial resources the Chamber has already begun to seek out other options to promote the City of Tombstone, our member’s business & local events, and to continue to help increase visitation to Tombstone.

Last year we spoke a lot about BRAND, we all know that Tombstone is a city with a strong brand, a brand we must protect…but we should also consider EXPANDING our brand to include ALL of the timeline of history in Tombstone that is recognized by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office which is 1877-1929…that gives us more to celebrate about our amazing little town!  Without the daily duties of running the Boothill Gift shop we look forward to providing even more assistance to the individual business and events.

So…The numbers above (2011-12 $683,545.42 & 2017-18 $1,114,582.02) represent the amount of taxes that were distributed the first year the majority of our board was installed and I became President of the Tombstone Chamber, 2011, and the most current fiscal year on record, 2017-18…Our board believes that the increase in revenue is, in large part, is because of our Marketing efforts…if they do not know we are a real place, they will not come… 

I concluded by reminding our attendees that what we do at the Tombstone Chamber is NOT a fly-by-night venture; it’s a daily responsibility that is more than just purchasing some ad space. It's important to know about the real history and local community of Tombstone along with current marketing trends. It is important to continue to invest in the process of re-acquaintance and introduction of our image to those young and old alike, with a focus on keeping our name and our AUTHENTIC history alive for travelers.

We at the Tombstone Chamber never want anyone to think that we work in a vacuum – we need to hear from our Chamber community, we need you to keep being involved!  

Thank you,

Susan Wallace
Tombstone Chamber of Commerce