Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce
Posted: August 20, 2010
I've learned a lot over the years about how retail businesses operate while distributing my free brochures promoting Festival in the Pines, which takes place Aug. 28-29 in Carson Park in Eau Claire.
For example, I will never spend any money at the Hixton Travel Plaza, nor do I buy gas at the corporate-owned Holiday Station Store along the North Crossing located across the street from the locally-owned Mega Holiday operation. Neither outlet would allow anyone to display promotional material within their establishment. For that reason, I don't see any reason to patronize their business.
I understand why some businesses would want to limit the number of promotional items that clutter news stands and take up valuable shelf space, but retailers should attempt to accommodate tourism-related functions that rely on advertising to drive revenue for the local economy.
My visit to the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce/Tourism Center two weeks ago was a bit frustrating. I was told that I could only place my 40-page brochures on the visitor information shelf if I was a member of the chamber. So I became a member.
I was confused as to why the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce would not help me promote my festival without the $195 investment. I realize it would be a bit cumbersome to have every business advertise at the visitor center, but it is a venue that is designed to inform visitors about what is happening throughout the region. I soon realized that the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce is trying to be a tourism organization as well. (On the other hand, the Menomonie Chamber of Commerce lets me drop off my brochures without the stipulation of being a chamber member).
At one time, the City of Chippewa Falls provided a portion of its room tax dollars to allow the Chippewa Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (now known as Visit Eau Claire) to promote Chippewa Falls. Visit Eau Claire is a professional organization that specializes in marketing the attractions throughout the area.
As a new member of the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce, I believe the organization needs to rethink its policy of how it helps tourism-related businesses drive more dollars to the region. After all, the traffic pattern in and around downtown Chippewa Falls has changed dramatically over the past year and it may be time to find a better way to help promote events that attract visitor spending and sales tax revenue. No matter where the money is being spent, it helps all of us.