MTDB Business Meeting Minutes February 2012
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MTDB Business Meeting Minutes February 2012 

State House Dome photo 

Maryland Tourism Development Board Business Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 
Hilton BWI Airport Hotel, Linthicum, MD  


Call to Order/Roll Call

MTDB:  Paul Bales, Adolph Ebersberger, John Fieseler, Mike Haynie, John Jenkins, Dave Meloy, Wini Roche, Chris Schardt, Greg Shockley, Linda Westgate; EDC:  Kevin Atticks, Deb Carter, Mary Presley, David Reel;  MDMO:  Rachelina Bonacci, Matt Neitzey, Amanda Fenstermaker, Sandy Turner, Marjorie Hampson; DBED:  Margot Amelia, Catherine Batavick, Lucy Chittenden, Liz Fitzsimmons, Rebecca Goldman, Bill Pencek, Marci Ross, Bryan Barnes, Landry Brogdon, Denise Reed, Colleen Lamont.  Guest Speaker:  Jennifer Allgair 

Board Chair Greg Shockley welcomed all in attendance.   

Guest Speaker – Jennifer Allgair, General Counsel, Maryland State Ethics Commission 

Ms. Allgair gave an overview of the Maryland State Ethics Commission and ethics rules as they pertain to members of the Maryland Tourism Development Board.  She also discussed Financial Disclosure Statements, which each board member must file with the Ethics Commission on an annual basis.  She encouraged all board members to file their Financial Disclosure Statements electronically and reminded them, if they have not already done so for FY 2011, that they must be filed no later than 4/30/12. 

Bill Pencek – Deputy Assistant Secretary - Tourism, Film and the Arts
Director, War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission 

Mr. Pencek gave an overview of the Star Spangled 200 proposed budget, grants, and fund raising efforts, and referred to handouts in the meeting binders/folders including the Maryland Life article on The War of 1812.  Program details/budget information is featured on the website  

Star-Spangled Sailabration will be held June 13-19th and will feature over 40 grey hulls and tall ships from 18 nations, and a Blue Angels airshow on June 16th and June 17th.  There will be several “Sailabration” villages located throughout downtown Baltimore.  Concerts, tours of ships, and a fireworks display are just some of the highlights during the Sailabration week in Baltimore.  A complete list of events and further information can be found on the website 

Chairman’s Report 

Greg Shockley commented that Tourism Day was a big hit, thanks to everyone who participated.  It was very well-attended and Chair Shockley was pleased with the turnout by legislators.  It appears that the legislators are starting to understand that tourism is making a positive economic impact in Maryland and the MTDB needs to reinforce that every chance we get.   The MTDB Budget hearings are coming up – Senate on Friday and House on Wednesday.  Several board members are testifying and he encouraged everyone to attend to show support if they have the opportunity to do so.  Right now the MTDB fund is flat-funded – while other agencies are getting cut.  Extra funding for War of 1812 activities has also been proposed.  The focus now is to keep the MTDB budget from being cut during session.  A BRFA is attached to it until 2017.  May 16th next board meeting.  All upcoming meeting info is in board binders. 

Executive Director’s Report 

Margot thanked Wini & MTC for all their work on Tourism Day and thanked everyone for their efforts in talking to their elected officials to get the tourism message out.  The Office of Tourism sent an email with a video Bryan Barnes produced highlighting Tourism Day. Bryan will be shooting video throughout the state.  If he comes to your area, please help him out.  He will be filming at Shenanigan’s in Ocean City on St. Patrick’s Day.  YouTube is now the #2 search engine for travel related items so OTD is focusing some efforts on building up the Maryland Tourism YouTube Channel.  Margot reiterated how busy the Office of Tourism is with both legislative requests during Session, as well as new projects.  Marci Ross will be attending the ITB International Trade Show in Berlin (per request from BWI).  BWI has a new airline, Condor Air, which flies into Frankfurt with 26 flights starting in July.  Linda Mallinger from BWI and Sam Rogers from Visit Baltimore will accompany Marci to Berlin. 

We have been investing Scenic Byway grant funds during the last couple of years – and will ramp up those efforts in FY2013.  The Capital Region USA (CRUSA) marketing alliance is performing well – FAM tours will be spending a lot of time in Maryland.  We also have War of 1812 FAM tours coming to the area, as well as a Travel Channel U.K. film shoot.  Camila Clark is going to Scotland on a CRUSA media mission which should generate great press for us.  We have press coming from the U.K., a German group FAM and a Brazil Soft Travel T.V. shoot.  We will be hosting the opening night reception at the African American Travel Conference April 18-20th in Baltimore, with an expected attendance of approximately 300 African American travel planners.  We will also be launching the new African American Heritage Travel Guide at this event.  The Destination Maryland and Scenic Byways Map/Guide will be released later this spring. 

Marci Ross, Rich Gilbert, Camila Clark and Margot will be attending the International Pow Wow Travel Conference in L.A.  The Society of American Travel Writers will be in Baltimore the second week of May.  Then we will kick into Sailabration, which we anticipate will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors. OTD will also focus on the return of AIBTM in June. 

Margot then referenced the Advertising Effectiveness Study overview in binders.   $1.1 million spent in CY11 – generating 211,000 incremental trips (trips that would not have happened if visitors had not seen the advertising).   This incremental visitor spending was $182 million.  For every $1 of advertising dollars spent – we had a return of $5 in state sales tax alone and almost $25 in local/state taxes.  Over 1800 additional jobs were generated.  Margot went on to share information (in binder) on how other states fared in similar studies.  Detailed information from the study serves as a useful tool during advocacy efforts, detailing that if we spend more advertising Maryland’s tourism assets, we have the opportunity to generate more jobs. 

Margot gave an overview of information in the Tourism Monitor and the Maryland Lodging Monitor, both included in the binders.   

Staff updates:   

Liz Fitzsimmons – working with county tourism offices on FAM tours & MAPRA.  The Communications Team has a different staff member as “point person” for each commemoration: Liz is working with Star Spangled Banner, Connie Yingling is working on Civil War, and Camila Clark is working on Harriett Tubman initiatives/commemorations.  She referred to the recent ads and latest newsletters included in meeting binders. 

Lucy Chittenden – revising home page on our website with more emphasis on commemorations and ease of use.  Also working on seasonal contests, which serve as marketing tools to sell Maryland as a destination.  First seasonal contest is based on a PBS reality show called “Getting Away Together” that was shot last summer in Garrett County.  Contestants will be eligible to win a stay at a Deep Creek Lake vacation home and all of the elements/attractions featured in the episode will be part of the package.  She is also working on another lead generation project to increase subscribers to our newsletter. 

Rebecca Goldman - introduced her intern Landry Brogdon, who has been a great asset working on various research projects including researching information on school start dates.  Rebecca is working on Cycling MD Research and reaching out to those attending cycling events around the state.  She has captured over 1000 email addresses of cyclists from the survey.  Will keep us posted with future updates. 

Marci Ross – Civil War Trails Mobile App – we have identified a vendor for technical side and design of App.  Still on schedule to launch in time for the commemoration in Antietam.  Grants – 8-10 reimbursement requests received with $245,000 reimbursed to date.  Still have over $2.25 million left in pool. 

Tracking two pieces of legislation on Capitol Hill – First is the Harriett Tubman National Historic Parks Legislation – which was pushed forward in an attempt to get unanimous consent.  Unfortunately that did not happen so we are continuing to call on Senators on Capitol Hill to gain their support of this legislation. 

Second piece is transportation legislation entitled MAP-21.  This legislation supports trails, byways and transportation enhancement programs that improve the quality of life.  It is a much debated bill with over 400 amendments.  We continue to work with MDOT, which is the legislative lead on this. 

Training – planning another Travel Information Center Workshop and working on Star Spangled Sailabration training for Welcome Centers and Call Center personnel.  Also managing Tour Guide training program for Harriett Tubman Byway.  Other workshops are being planned due to multiple requests for this training. 

Catherine Batavick – MD Green Travel – redesigned application is in “testing” phase right now.  Everything is now working correctly.  She asked that everyone, especially DMOs, to please get out the word and make sure your county properties are in the program.  Feedback is welcomed.  

Rich Gilbert – Working on Maryland Made Easy Itinerary publication.  Getting ready for whole round of spring programs, including Pennsylvania Bus Association, Maryland Motorcoach Association Marketplace, African American Travel Conference and International PowWow. 

Margot indicated that the May 16th meeting will include an overview of the advertising creative OTD will be running through the end of Fiscal Year 2012.  Planning to produce a T.V. commercial and get it up on air in May, June, & July of this year.   Hopefully OTD will be able to present this at our next meeting. 

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made and seconded to approve the December 7, 2011 Board Meeting Minutes. 

Board Member Comments/Highlights (not all inclusive) 

Greg, Margot and Hannah met with members of the State School Superintendents Executive Council regarding school start date shift.  .  School start dates could change in 2015 – Eastern Shore and Western Maryland tourism stakeholders will continue to work on this issue; in addition, the State Comptroller has also gotten involved - it will be a long-term process. 

Bunky Ebersberger – Arundel Mills topping off ceremony held for Casino which is scheduled to open the first week in June.  CSX intermodal has been delayed one year. 

John Fieseler – 12 months of increase in hotel occupancy in Frederick – new rooms coming online this summer.  New interest in war anniversary bringing in group tour business.  Delegate Claggett introduced bill to increase hotel tax from 3% to 5% - would direct most of the incremental money to tourism infrastructure in City of Frederick.  

Linda Westgate – Business starting to improve going into month of March.  New Media Training Institute at Creating Change was held at Hilton - very positive experience in Baltimore and she is hoping they will return next year.  Looking forward to AIBTM, commemorations and all of the events coming up this year.   

Mike Haynie – He was the guest speaker at the Baltimore Area Concierge Association the previous night.  They are very interested in what the MTDB does and requested updates on War of 1812 events – Mike will get information from Bill and relay to them.  About 50 hotels/restaurants were represented.  A major concern expressed was that the carousel in Baltimore is being removed and the fact that there are very few kid-friendly attractions available in the summer.  Another concern is business slowing down in summer due to gas prices.  On March 13th Mike and Carolyn Laray will be hosting a Charter Boat Captain reception in St. Mary’s.  Charter fishing has been off in Southern Maryland for a variety of reasons and this should be a great forum to discuss some of the problems they are facing. 

Paul Bales – really appreciated the video OTD sent which he forwarded to his county commissioners.  Southern PG & Charles – Improvements taking place at National Harbor.  Once road improvements are complete and the Ft. Belvoir/Indian Head ferry connection is made, cyclists will be able to bike across Wilson Bridge, down the southern shore and cross back over to Mt. Vernon.  Airport progress is continuing. 

Chris Schardt – Good business due to warm weather.  Ripley’s will have a new museum in Harborplace.  Light St. Pavilion is undergoing the largest renovation in its history with completion anticipated around Memorial Day. 

Dave Meloy – Tourism Promotion Act – Senate Bill 458 funding/tax code formula discussion. 

Wini Roche – Released Harford County Destination study the previous day and gave brief overview on the study including a recommendation that a feasibility study be done for a small, 30,000 sq. ft. convention center.  Greater Baltimore Committee/Don Fry has been great advocate for tourism in Harford County. 

John Jenkins – National Harbor – conventions will be up 7-8% this year.  National Harbor/Rosecroft gaming discussed.  Bunky Ebersberger indicated that House Bill 1169(table games) will go to referendum in November. 

Greg Shockley – Ocean City - Two year project to renovate boardwalk.  Summer promotions include laser light shows on Sunday nights/free activities on beach.  Signature events will be back: Cruisers in May, Air Show in June, Dew Tour in August and Bike Weekend planned.  Leadership in Ocean City government still in flux (search is on for a new City Manager and a Tourism Director).  Concerned about cost of gas this summer. 

Executive Directors Council 

David Reel - MTC doing well – MTTS will be at the Hyatt in Cambridge this year 11/14-11/16.  Sandy Turner will be giving testimony on behalf of MTC at budget hearings.  MTC Board had successful Strategic Planning Retreat which resulted in a three-year work plan. 

Kevin Atticks - Wineries – thanks to Hannah and Marci for bringing wineries together with SHA to discuss road signage for wineries/tourism – meeting in a few weeks with SHA to discuss how to move forward.

Hoping to bring the Wine Industry Conference – Drink Local Wine – to Baltimore in April 2013.

Hosting a two day “Decanter” event at Pimlico.  Quiet year for legislation – wine sales starting to shift online. 

Deb Carter – Timonium RV show was a great success with about 30,000 in attendance.  Working with MTC & Hotel/Lodging Association on ADA bills.  Flush tax could triple for campgrounds.  Campground Association has two new members. 

Sandy Turner (for Tom Riford) - thanks to everyone for their efforts on Tourism Day. 

Marjorie Hampson – will launch a new Baltimore County tourism website in June and recently released a new visitor guide.  She has been busy placing ads, visiting hoteliers.  Summer promotion will be waterfront restaurants – Baltimore County has over 200 miles of waterfront.  Fall promotion may be a wine festival. 

Rachelina Bonacci – new website launched on Feb 14th; now working on mobile apps.  Welcome center is doing well - Phase 2 (lower level) starts in May.  New visitor’s guide launched.  New Sales & Communications Coordinator is on board.  Monitoring teacher/pension shift and amusement tax.  Toby Orenstein honored on Arts Day.  Hotels doing fine. 


There being no further business to come before the Board, upon a motion duly made, seconded and unanimously approved, the meeting was declared adjourned.

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