Yorkville rethinks pulling out of tourism bureau
By Steve Lord email@example.com September 12, 2012 5:26PM
Updated: September 12, 2012 8:43PM
YORKVILLE — In an abrupt turnabout, Yorkville aldermen this week said they will consider staying a part of the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The City Council’s about face on the subject came after businesses in town came forward and said leaving the bureau would hurt them.
But while aldermen were conciliatory toward the visitors bureau this week, they were adamant they will not support a five-year commitment.
“We will be asking for a three-year term because that is what it seems the council wants,” said Alderman Chris Funkhouser, 3rd Ward, the council’s representative on the visitors bureau board. “But if they cannot bend on that point, the city of Yorkville will find another way to go.”
Yorkville has been a member of the visitors bureau for more than 20 years. The bureau is asking the city to re-up its intergovernmental agreement for another five years. But in the past several months, aldermen have been questioning the affiliation, saying the city does not get enough promotion for its money.
Yorkville raises about $45,000 a year earmarked for tourism, and 90 percent of it goes to the visitors bureau.
Chris Hamilton, who has been the visitors bureau director for about a year, said the organization is trying to improve communication between the board and its members, and working to develop better marketing.
But he pointed out to aldermen this week that the bureau’s work goes beyond just marketing. Two weeks ago, aldermen heard from a local marketing firm about what it could do, marketing-wise. Hamilton said the firm did not address “the sales side.”
For instance, the visitors bureau currently is negotiating a three-year deal with cheerleading camps to locate in Sandwich at Timber Creek Inn. The spillover from conventions at that center would go to the Hampton Inn in Yorkville.
Moreover, the visitors bureau is arranging shuttle transit from both places to Raging Waves water park in Yorkville.
“We have a further reach than what a local marketing group could do,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton agreed that Yorkville was underrepresented on the visitors bureau board with only one member, and said the board already has agreed to add, as voting members, a representative from Raging Waves and a representative for Yorkville’s hotels.
Daryl Wiese, of the Hampton Inn in Yorkville, said his company has been receiving benefits from the visitors bureau, and his company needs the wider reach the bureau offers.
“Some 98 percent of my business does not come from Yorkville, we have to advertise other places,” he said.
Randy Witt, of Raging Waves, said in the first year of the water park, the park got most of its business from within an eight-mile radius. He said last year, that expanded to about a 30-mile radius, and he needs that to expand even more.
“What’s vital for our business is the reach,” he said.