County Supervisors voted to continue with a new model to deliver tourism-marketing services to the San Luis Obispo County Business Improvement District (CBID).

While many such marketing districts hire a single consultant to handle all aspects of a marketing program, the County does something different, awarding a half dozen, smaller contracts with different firms to handle specific duties.

Originally formed in 2009, the CBID puts a tax on a room night at lodging properties in the unincorporated towns in SLO County. “In July of 2018,” reads a staff report by Tessa Cornejo with the County Administrative Office, “when the marketing agreement ended with Mental Marketing/TJA Advertising, the CBID began discussing if there was a better strategy to marketing the District rather than contracting with a single marketing agency firm.”

The CBID board launch “BID Bunch” in September 2018, with several vendors that provided services such as media, public relations, social media, website update and maintenance, project management, content curation, and new photos and videos. These agreements were for under $50,000 and approved by the Administrative Office.”

CBID Board embarked on a 9-month pilot program and in June 2019, recommended the Supervisors extend the program for another year. At its June 2020 meeting, the board voted to continue with the contracts for another year. But now the contracts are mostly for more than $50,000. Supervisors on Aug. 11 awarded the following contracts:
• Lori L. Keller, $61,500, to provide marketing support in the execution of the strategic marketing plan;
• Orange22, Inc., $114,000 for media
relation services including purchasing pass thru media, and up to $460,000 for pass thru media services;
• Josh Morris DBA Rain Studios got an $84,000 contract to provide photography and videography services;
• Vingage Consulting for $98,592 to provide analytics, email strategy and marketing, search engine optimization and website enhancement services;
• Townsend Public Relations, $78,000 to provide public relations services; and,
• Kaitlin Sturtevant $50,000 to provide Stewardship Program and public relations coordination.
All this is intended to help the CBID carry out is 2020-21 Strategic Plan.
“The CBID is funded by a 2% assessment of the rent charged per occupied room per night from lodging businesses — hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals — within the CBID. The agreements will be funded completely out of these assessments,” Cornejo’s report stated.

Out of that 2% charge, the CBID gives back half to individual tourism boards from the different towns. That money can be spent locally in support of things like special events and advertising.