LAKEPORT — The special district behind a countywide destination branding effort that was released last fall to promote tourism in Lake County has reenlisted the advertising agency that created the new brand to develop a tourism website in the coming months.
Formed in late 2018, the Lake County Tourism Improvement District collects a 1.5 percent assessment from local hoteliers’ overnight stay revenues to fund marketing programs aimed at attracting tourists. Along with the county district, the cities of Lakeport and Clearlake also formed TIDs, with all three areas’ assessments funding the initiatives of a nine-member board made up largely of lodging business owners.
Last year the board hired Cubic Creative out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to create a brand identity for the county. Their work was compiled into a 300-page document, out of which samples including a logo and some image-based advertisements were presented publicly for the first time during a stakeholder meeting in October 2019.
Now, the TID board has entered into another contract with Cubic to develop a complete tourism website.
“It’s going to be our new front door,” TID board member Brian Fisher told the Lake County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “We’re going to ensure that our unique Lake County voice is heard in everything the visitor sees.” The site, Fisher added, will have “itineraries, it’ll have places and things to do” to “pique people’s interest” about Lake County.
Following the development of the website, Cubic will also assist the TID in launching what Fisher called a “micro-targeted media campaign” for specified Bay Area and Central Valley audiences in the spring. The locations to be targeted were determined by Cubic based on the postal code destinations of “smart cars that travelled through ten different Lake County destinations,” Fisher said.
To date, the tourism district board has received over $300,000 in government contributions, assessments and an award from Visit California, according to data presented by Fisher. Annual estimates for ongoing funding from the TID assessments have been about $170,000. Fisher noted that Lakeport’s TID assessment has fallen under what was estimated, while the Clearlake and Lake County assessment revenues have exceeded expectations. Roughly $154,000 in TID assessments were collected in 2019, according to data presented Tuesday.
Deputy County Administrative Officer Michelle Scully, a fellow member of the TID board, said the district has attempted to be efficient in the way it spends its funds. “We don’t have the marketing dollars to throw spaghetti on the wall and hope it sticks somewhere,” she said.
Most of the district’s spending has been invested in the branding work Cubic is doing, Fisher said—about $75,000 to date. Another $23,000 has gone to website administrator Brandhound to keep the developing tourism site up and running. The remaining 3 percent of the district’s total spending has gone to other costs.
Every member of the Lake County Board of Supervisors was supportive of the district’s efforts and the brand identity created by Cubic.
“I love your ideas of not trying to make us look like something we’re not, but using our strengths…in a humorous way. I think it’s important that we need to be looking at rebranding ourselves, and for the community to take pride in what we have here,” said District 4 Supervisor Tina Scott.
District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown, who has been critical of county-supported marketing programs in the past, said he feels differently about this effort.
“I’ve had a high level of criticism for the marketing program run by the county,” he said. “You guys are…headed in a really good direction here.”