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Winter marketing plan a work in progress

Representatives of the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort are going to have to wait a few more days for the Nevada Tourism Commission to iron out the details of its $1.75 million winter marketing campaign.

The commission met Wednesday but took no action on the plan, which traditionally focuses its winter media buys on attracting tourists to skiing and other winter sports activities, primarily in the Lake Tahoe area.

Two marketing companies — Las Vegas-based B&P Advertising and Public Relations, and Creative Concepts of Reno, are vying for the contract. Earlier this month, the commission’s marketing committee deadlocked 2-2 on a vote to recommend the agency that would manage the contract.

Media accounts of the tie vote got the attention of the Las Vegas resort, a small but growing operation in Lee Canyon on Mount Charleston that is adding capacity to its main chairlift and is opening a new tubing area. Resort officials are hoping the state’s marketing efforts would include the Las Vegas operation since it’s a statewide campaign.

The division over selecting an agency is laced with philosophical differences over the best prospective tourist audience to attract and how to do it.

The Creative Concepts proposal depends on a heavier emphasis toward television advertising and social media while B&P seeks to drive prospective travelers with less TV and a variety of digital platforms before converting them to buyers.

The commission staff is pushing for a greater emphasis on digital platforms and social media and attracting the millennial generation. B&P sees an opportunity to attract millennials from the Denver area, but the Creative proposal would target residents of surrounding states and the company’s supporters like the greater emphasis on TV ads and a more traditional market.

The committee recommending the media buy is expected to meet Sept. 30.

Representatives of the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort attended the meeting teleconferenced in Las Vegas and Carson City, but didn’t make any presentation on their desire to be a part of the state campaign.

In another matter, members of the commission also got their first look at the prospective design of a network of welcome centers and rest areas that would be built across the state to serve the 53 million motorists who use the state’s highways.

The Tourism Commission and the Nevada Transportation Department are collaborating on a plan to build and maintain highway rest stops with a unifying theme. Tourism leaders see the stops as a place to give visitors a first look at the state’s attractions; transportation leaders view them as places for motorists to pull off the road to relieve fatigue.

Tourism director Claudia Vecchio said a committee settled on an arch construction design, playing off the famed Reno arch, the arch shape of Hoover Dam and the colors and designs of rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Vecchio showed renderings of proposed buildings for stops, from staffed welcome centers to rest areas with interpretive displays showing regional attractions to simple rest stops with picnic and restroom facilities.

Buildings would have a common design, but construction materials would highlight the regional elements representative of the area.

The state currently has three welcome centers, 26 rest areas and seven rest stops, all of which would be upgraded to the new look. The long-term plan would be to build more stops as well.

Vecchio said the departments hope to begin work on four sites by next year — on Interstate 80 near Carlin, on I-80 at the intersection of U.S. Highway 95, on U.S. 95 north of Tonopah and on U.S. Highway 93 in the Pahranagat Valley.

The agencies haven’t developed cost estimates and the projects so far are unfunded. However, both agencies are expected to propose funding in the state’s 2015 fiscal year budget.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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