Tahoe tourism board picks outsider
Proving tourism can be a challenging business, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority leaders made a difficult choice in selecting a candidate from outside Lake Tahoe to run the basin’s largest tourism agency.
After deliberations and two public interviews, the $2.3 million agency’s board of seven gave the nod to Patrick Kaler, an Illinois tourism marketer with an extensive tourism industry resumé.
He’ll replace longtime Tahoe resident Bill Chernock, who resigned and moved to Southern Nevada.
Kaler was vying for the job along with Caesars Tahoe vice president of marketing Sue Hyde, whose company is being bought out by Harrah’s Entertainment.
“I was surprised. It could have gone either way. I read up on Sue’s experience, but I bring a lot to the table, too,” Kaler said after learning he got the job.
An LTVA subcommittee, consisting of Chairman Tom Davis, Carl Ribaudo, Pat Ronan, Don Miner, Tim Smith, Blaise Carrig and Mark Rittorno, will negotiate Kalers compensation package to bring back to the board.
The ballot was 5-2 in favor of Kaler, but all members unanimously voted to move forward with negotiations.
“I just wanted to make the point that Sue has done a terrific job at contributing to this community. I don’t want that to go unnoticed,” Ribaudo said.
Hyde said afterward that she was anxious to move forward with tourism efforts on the South Shore.
The board opted for a director with a clean slate and an outsider’s view.
Some board members mentioned how those attributes could be viewed favorably or unfavorably, in contrast to the “hit the ground running” nature of Hyde’s skills and experience.
“When I look at this organization, I may want to turn the apple cart upside down,” Carrig said. “I think we need to do more than save the organization. I think we need to re-create it.
“I don’t bring any baggage. I come to you with a clean slate. No one is in my back pocket, and I haven’t ticked anybody off – not that Sue has,” Kale said. “I know you have a difficult decision on your hands. I come here with an enthusiasm and a passion, and I want to bring that passion to Lake Tahoe.”
Kaler suggested LTVA conduct cooperative marketing efforts with the airlines, including those in frequent-flier mailers.
From 1998 to 2003, Kaler oversaw the Great Lakes of North America, a regional tourism marketing organization representing seven U.S. states and Canada.
He interacted with state tourism directors on a weekly basis and governors annually – including Minnesota’s Jesse Ventura.
“I’m just as interested in getting people into Motel 6 as Harrah’s,” Kaler said.
After the meeting, Kaler described his destination marketing experience as “diverse.”
For starters, he called Ascent, the gay ski week party slated for February, as an ideal opportunity for the area.
“I would welcome that 100 percent. How could we say no to people with this propensity to travel?” he said.