Winnetka questions Convention Bureau’s local impact
Updated: September 17, 2012 6:10AM
WINNETKA— It wasn’t so much the cost that bothered Winnetka trustees when they debated whether to renew the village’s membership in Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau.
But trustees had to ask, once again, if the village and local businesses were getting any bang for the $6,500 annual fee.
If the destination marketing organization was so beneficial to North Shore communities, why are so few towns members, trustees asked. In addition to Winnetka, the short list of municipal members includes Evanston, Skokie, Glenview and Northbrook.
Only 14 Winnetka organizations and businesses are members, prompting trustees to ask if promotions have proved beneficial. Members include the Winnetka Community House, the Park District, two banks and several restaurants.
“For the village’s $6,500 fee, you get the payback of a $1.2 million organization, which translates into millions of pieces of collateral every year,” said the bureau’s Jennifer Engel, speaking of the marketing pieces the organization distributes.
The Winnetka Village Council ultimately voted Tuesday to renew membership for another year, with only Trustee Richard Kates dissenting.
However, several trustees indicated they would like the bureau to step up efforts to recruit Winnetka businesses as members.
Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes the area as a destination for business and leisure travel. In order for local businesses to join the bureau’s marketing efforts, the municipality itself must be a member.
About half of the bureau’s $1.2 million budget comes from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.