‘New set of eyes’ may work tourism

$1,500 monthly retainer asked

Rockdale appears on the brink of bringing in a “new set of eyes” to work on tourism and promotion of the city after a 90-minute public hearing with a Fort Worthbased firm Monday.

The city council session in the Patterson Civic Center was heavily promoted by the city as important to Rockdale’s future.

“I’m not here just to talk about putting ‘heads in beds’ (filling motel rooms),” Paul Sturiale, vice- president for marketing of Orasi Development, told the crowd. “We don’t just want them (tourists) one time. We want them to come back.”

And Sturiale outlined a plan to do just that, a Rockdale-tailored approach to “ brand” the town with a positive image, develop a strategy to attract out-of-town visitors and work with local entities to stage events, not necessarily the same ones from past years.

FEES—The new look approach is an outgrowth of the Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 decision to no longer administer hotel-motel tax funds.

The city council interviewed three firms and asked Orasi back for the public meeting with the business community.

Sturiale said the firm would charge a $ 1,500 per month retainer fee, to cover administration, expenses of mounting a social media campaign and trips to Rockdale.

That does not cover the cost of the events. Sturiale said each event would have its own budget, which would need to be approved by the city council, which is now administering the hotel-motel tax

COMMITTEE—Here’s the structure as outlined Monday:

• Appointment of a new permanent tourism committee will be brought before the city council at its April 8 meeting.

• Orasi, or any other entity for that matter, could bring a proposed event, and budget, before the committee, which would then either endorse or reject the item.

• Approved proposals would then go to the city manager for presentation to the city council.

• The council would make the final decision.

• On events proposed by Orasi, the firm would then bring in the personnel to stage the event, using the budget approved by the council. “We will try to keep the money spent in the town,” Sturiale said.

He stressed that all areas of Rockdale need to be represented in the committee. “If everybody in the community isn’t invested in it, it’s not going to work very well.”

Sturiale would be in charge of Rockdale for Orasi, who said he would act as a counselor-advisor and would create concepts, monitor advertising and work on promoting Rockdale through social media.

STRATEGY— Sturiale said Orasi works with municipalities ranging from a population of 1,500 up to the city of Fort Worth. A current client is Gun Barrel City, whose 2010 population of 5,672 almost exactly matches Rockdale’s 5,595.

Sturiale said “ branding” is important for a city. “It takes on a personality that people associate with that city.”

He noted Fort Worth’s popular “Cowboys and Culture” brand was a product of Orasi.

Sturiale did some “thinking out loud” to illustrate what kind of out-of-the-box concepts might be forthcoming.

“The Texas Storytelling Association just had its annual festival in Denton,” he said. “That would seem like a natural to have in conjunction with the Tejas Fest in Rockdale.”

“I noticed there is no brochure for the depot museum and restored structure,” he said.

The council did not vote on the proposal. Monday’s agenda only listed a public hearing with no action contemplated.

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2013-03-28 digital edition

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