Folks are staying in Great Bend’s hotels, lots of folks.
“In 2017, we had our biggest year of transient guest tax ever,” she said. The total was $319,329. Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau Director/Community Coordinator Christina Hayes told the City Council Monday night. She was referring to the tax paid by hotel guests that is used to fund the city’s marketing efforts.
“Things are going really well,” she said. “People are staying in our hotel rooms and we like that of course. I think the hotels are working really well together from a CVB director’s side of things.”
Hayes said she found a CVB report from 2005. It tracked transient guest tax and sales tax numbers for Great Bend and comparable Kansas communities.
Hayes liked it and updated the figures.
“I thought it was a good thing t o give to you all,” she said. “I think I will start doing it at least one a year so we kind of get a good idea of where we are at compared to sister cities.”
On the chart were the 11 Kansas cities most like Great Bend. “The ones that stick out the most as comparisons are Crawford County, which is the home of Pittsburg, Eldorado, McPherson and Newton.”
The chart follows the transient guest tax percentage and revenue for the past five years, the sales tax percentage and revenue for 2017, the most recent CVB budgets and the number of CVB employees for each.
Great Bend charges 6 percent for its guest tax, which is the money collected from those staying in local hotels. Of this 10 percent goes to Great Bend Events Center and the balance towards marketing the city through the CVB.
As for sales tax, the rate in Great Bend is 8.25. Last year, this netted just over $1.4 million.
Looking at the CVB budgets, Hayes said Great Bend’s was $270,000 in 2017 with two full-time employees and one part-time employee.
Of the four cities Hayes mentioned, the Great Bend CVB budget was the lowest while the collected guest taxes were among the highest. Personnel wise, Great Bend was in the middle.
State law dictates that guest tax funds be used to city promotions in some fashion, Hayes said, but it us up to each of the cities how the funds are allocated. “It is very interesting to look at the various differences in the other communities.”
The CVB had been a separate entity, but the city took over bureau in 2016. It was put under Hayes who had previously just been the community coordinator.
This means, she also receives funds from the city as well that go towards marketing. Office space at the Events Center was remodeled to accommodate the combined offices.
This extra funding is important, Hayes said Monday. A full, 5,000-copy run of glossy color brochures, like the new one she is taking to the Denver Travel Show this weekend, can run over $1,000.