The Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau’s executive board has recommended adding more elected officials and tourism industry representatives to its board.
On Thursday, the board approved adding two more elected officials, one each from the city and the county; adding two more tourism industry representatives, one being from the arts industry; and making the representatives from both the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce voting members. The board also recommended not forming a proposed advisory board.
Ultimately, the City Council and Board of Supervisors will have to approve the changes.
Both bodies scheduled public hearings in December on whether to add more elected officials to the executive board, but the city canceled its meetings and the county held off on making a decision.
CACVB Interim Director Adam Healey suggested the CACVB board could change its structure without councilors’ and supervisors’ approval.
“Without the support of the Board [of Supervisors] and council, we’re done,” said Ann H. Mallek, the county supervisor on the CACVB board. “So just understand, it’s not a power play for this group to try to exclude those two other groups.”
Jennifer Mayo, with Omni Hotels, who is the city tourism representative on the CACVB board, asked Mallek to clarify what she meant.
“This is a trial to see if we can figure out a better way to make this work, so the fact that somehow we’re going to say to the board and council, ‘we don’t need you anymore,’ that is not going to pass,” Mallek said.
Ann Taylor, executive vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello, said she supports adding more tourism representatives.
“We have abundant talent in our community and I do think that having a larger representation of the industry as we seek to realign in our marketing efforts and make them more relevant and resonate with younger audiences would be a benefit,” she said.
Councilor Mike Signer, who’s currently the city’s alternate on the CACVB board, said the industry best practices presented to the board were not comprehensive, and that there are “thousands of examples out there” of the proportion of government officials to industry representatives on tourism-related boards.
“The history here is that we wanted to have a more focused and effective, nimble board that was more in the model of the [Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority] rather than a very large, unwieldy fiduciary board,” he said.
He said the elected officials want specific programming to be a driver for getting people to visit the area, not just general marketing of the region, but that it’s difficult to do because of the separateness of the two local governments.
“The question is, how do we achieve more focus on programming to draw people here rather than just advertising industries,” Signer said.
Mayo said she isn’t against having elected officials on the board in general, but thinks there are tourism people who are not being represented by the two tourism representatives currently on the board.
“I would call on this board to recognize that there are so many pieces that we’ve been missing or have goals to fulfill and there are a lot of experts out here ... that would have real value to be added to the board,” she said.
Both city staff members on the board, Interim City Manager Mike Murphy and Economic Development Director Chris Engel, said they also support adding more tourism representation to the board.
Board member Roger Johnson, Albemarle County’s economic development director, said he was concerned with the board increasing its size in general.
“The larger we make this group, the harder it will be for us to make decisions, the more difficult it will be for us to act expeditiously to meet the needs of the tourism industry,” he said.
At Thursday’s meeting, Johnson was appointed chairman of the CACVB executive board, while Engel was appointed vice chairman.
Representing marketing firm Clean, Glen Fellman also presented an update to the proposed advertising campaign that was shown to the board in October. At that time, the campaign created the words “C’villeization,” “C’villeized,” “C’villeian” and “C’villeity” to advertise the food, wine, music and history of the area.
“We steered clear of certain words that people said were a little prickly. We don’t want to go down those paths,” Fellman said.
He said they weren’t saying the area was “civilization,” but was its own unique brand of it.
The new basic logo would have “Charlottesville” over “Virginia.” Another proposed logo has “Albemarle County, Virginia” instead of just “Virginia.”
Mallek said the county has to be in the logo.
“We are paying half the money, almost, and, yes, people in Oshkosh may not know about the name of Albemarle County, but this is how we help them to learn that name, is to see them together,” she said.
Murphy said he liked the art of the campaign, but was still against “C’villeization.”
“My feedback about civility last time was about, let’s take a new road, and for me, this is just changing lanes,” he said. “It’s still too close for me. I wouldn’t be in favor of the ‘civilization,’ or ‘civilized,’ which is in a lot of the copy.”
Signer said he thinks “C’Ville” could stand alone.
“It may be that ‘C’villeization’ appears elsewhere as context or as a touchstone for what the bigger idea is,” he said.
Healey said this additional feedback will be taken into account.