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Putting heads in beds

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By Katy Korkos

The Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board has one specific task: to put heads in beds. Its efforts are financed by a tax charged at the county’s lodging establishments, and reports from those establishments show that business is improving.“The White Rock Hampton Inn said that this was the highest December since they’ve begun tracking,” said Ron Selvage at the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday. Selvage owns the Best Western Hilltop House.In addition, visitorship is improving at the Bradbury Science Museum.“We had 3,545 visitors in December,” Bradbury director Linda Deck said, adding that numbers at the Bradbury compare favorably with the annual numbers of visitors to the state museums.The lodging industry has had to look to sources other than lab visitors in recent years for overnighters. Selvage reported that although the final numbers aren’t in yet, the board’s latest project has been very positive. In that promotion, ads were shown in Albuquerque movie theaters promoting a package deal of discounted lodging combined with lift tickets at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. The rooms were advertised as starting at $69 per night. Selvage said that approximately 60 tickets were sold using the package offer, resulting in 20-25 room nights.The board is targeting visitors who come for the high altitude sports of running, skiing, hockey, swimming, triathlons, duathlons, climbing, mountain biking and road biking.A focus on high-altitude sports will continue this year, with ads placed in publications that cater to tourists, such as car club travel magazines.Representatives from the Lodger’s Tax board meet regularly with the recreation division’s high-altitude sports group to take advantage of existing groups that come to the area for events. The board works closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the local visitor centers, both to distribute information and to collect and analyze information pertinent to lodging.The Lodger’s Tax board has several ways to gauge the success of their initiatives, including surveys handed out to participants in sports events and to people who spend the night in area hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.Future initiatives include creating tie-ins to all of the events that happen on a given day by means of a web-based calendar.LA Commerce and Development Corporation Executive Director Kevin Holsapple also reported to the board on Tuesday about planning for an “Invention Convention” to be presented this summer.“It will be billed as a festival of discovery and innovation,” Holsapple said. “There could be a significant number of invitees who would be likely to spend the night.  We’re hoping this will grow into an event where people will stay for the weekend.”Also in the planning stages are hospitality training sessions “for front-line workers,” those people who have contact with visitors on a daily basis. A two-hour session with the purpose “to improve visitor experience” has been tentatively scheduled for March 18.