I'm for SMART MARKETING. I am opposed to Referendum 2A in Aspen, the proposed 1% increase in lodging tax. Taxing the guests is not a good solution. I am voting NO on 2A.
I have heard all the rhetoric about the benefits of 2A. Some of our esteemed business leaders have said that the extra 1% is an “absolute necessity” to market Aspen. I’ve heard people in power say the extra tax will “create jobs”. I’ve been assured that our occupancy tax is “much lower” than other markets. I’ve even reviewed the “measurable results” of Aspen’s current marketing efforts that were provided by ACRA. I’m not impressed by any of these arguments to raise the lodging tax.
Tourists today are more value oriented than ever before---even the super-wealthy tourists that frequent Aspen. Tacking on an extra 1% to hotel bills at the end of each guest stay might not even get noticed. Overall occupancy costs in Aspen are already extremely high---what’s an extra 1%---right??? PRICE is the #1 objection to Aspen.
I’m most concerned about 2A because it will use public money to promote private agendas. I’m also worried about creating a $1 million annuity via the increased tax and granting it to a marketing organization that has shown very little creativity or marketing savvy in the past. I’m troubled about the accountability and the transparency in the use of the funds raised by 2A. How is the money going to be spent??? Using the “same ol’ same ol’” marketing strategies won’t cut it with today’s sophisticated traveler.
Aspen has one of the best “brand names” in tourism. In today’s digital age, we don’t need to throw more money at marketing --we need to produce compelling campaigns with the marketing money we already have. We need to create innovative and unique promotions that result in a call to action from prospective guests. We need to work together as a community, forming one consistent message, to enhance and grow the unique market position that Aspen already possesses. We need fresh ideas not another fiefdom supported by public funds.
Andrew M. Israel