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Partnerships are key for Carson City visitors bureau, outgoing interim leader says

John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com
John Barrette / Nevada Appeal

Partnerships are key to attracting visitors to Carson City, according to the woman exiting a central role in that effort.

Linda Ritter, who served three months as interim director of the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau, said it’s something like the real estate mantra. Only instead of “location, location, location,” it’s “partnership, partnership, partnership.”

“You cannot market Carson City without partnership,” said Ritter, who ran the bureau for three months while a search was under way for a permanent executive director. Joel Dunn, formerly operations chief for recreation in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, started Friday at a salary of $83,000 a year.

“Joel has been here a lot,” she said; he has been learning the ropes at the bureau office before beginning officially. “From day one, as soon as he was named, he had meetings set up.”

“It’s been a fun job,” she added. “He’s going to do well. You get to brag about Carson City.”

Forging partnerships and capitalizing on them are important, Ritter said. Success comes, she said, by working with lodging executives; folks running restaurants, bars and retail outlets; others involved with historic attractions such as the Virginia & Truckee Railroad; and with sporting events and opportunities.

“And it’s the community talking,” she added. “There’s a lot of pride in this community, but I don’t believe we talk about it enough.”

Ritter, Carson City’s city manager until 2008, was asked to name the three biggest things she learned about the job in her time at the helm. Partnership rolled off her tongue immediately, but the second and third spots required more thought.

“Travel has changed drastically,” she said, digging for No. 2. That means marketing for travel has changed as well, so websites and cellphone applications are important. Information is vital.

“A person wants it at his or her fingertips, and wants it now,” Ritter said. Consequently, the bureau has applied for a grant to get an “app” that can come up with details about restaurants, lodging, the city’s blue-line historic district, the Capitol Building, the V&T railway, location and hours of each outlet or attraction, whatever.

“You can keep it current that way,” she said as she touted the “app” aspect and social media.

Third, which Ritter cautioned may or may not deserve that status because it reflects her own interests, is what she calls analytics. They are insights about data on tourism and how it relates specifically to Carson City.

“That just gets my blood going,” she said. “I love it.”

The hopes the bureau can move ahead with information from website cruising, social media or app use that tells bureau observers what people seek out, where they go, both on the media and in the city. Analytics will provide return-on-investment information that can guide decision-making going forward, Ritter said.

She also has done data-mining and analysis for city government via her consulting firm. She looks forward to volunteer work as well, both on recruitment and downtown matters. As interim director, she initially earned $75 per hour on an eight-week contract. She got $53 per hour as it took about another month for bureau’s board to select Dunn.