The City of Hudson’s Tourism Board is looking for a ‘branding consultant’ to create a plan for marketing the city.
The request for proposal (RFP) was sent out in mid-November and seeks a contract with a consultant to “assist the (Tourism) Board in developing a tourism branding and marketing strategy that encompasses strategic research and analysis, development of a competitive identity, brand strategy and marketing strategy.”
The consultant for the project will be paid not from the city’s general fund, but from a portion of the city’s proceeds from its Lodging Tax, which took effect in June 2017 and places a four percent tax on short-term rentals, including traditional hotels and AirBnBs.
The city’s Tourism Board was established in March after the law creating the Lodging Tax was amended to specify who in the city government could appoint board members.
The board’s mission is to “establish the City of Hudson as a preferred destination in the Hudson Valley, while embracing smart growth and enhancing the economy and the quality of life for all Hudson residents,” according to the RFP.
The consultant is tasked with identifying how Hudson is perceived by residents, businesses and visitors in order to identify the city’s distinctive qualities and use this to create a “succinct message” able to be used “across a variety of city departments, programs, and services,” according to the RFP.
The consultant will then “develop promotional materials that aid in communicating the city’s competitive identity” and an advertising strategy capable of being used in print, online, in outdoor mediums, and through direct mail.
Fourth Ward Alderman Rich Volo, the chairman of the Tourism Board, said the amount of money spent on the consultant was “to be determined.”
The Tourism Board’s funding comes from the city’s Lodging Tax. Annually, fifty percent of the first $250,000 raised by the tax goes to the board, 25 percent of the next $250,000, and ten percent of any money raised above $500,000, though the board can receive no more than $500,000 a year from the tax, according to the establishing law.
The board received $120,000 of the tax’s $240,000 proceeds in fiscal year 2018, according to the Hudson Treasurer’s Office.
Though the Tourism Board must spend money on marketing, such as the brand consultant, “that doesn’t exclude other projects,” Volo said.
The RFP points to the importance of tourism to the local economy.
Visitors spent more than $140 million in Columbia County in 2016, of which Hudson is the county seat, according to the RFP, and the county is the most dependent in the six-county Hudson Valley region on visitor spending, which accounted for 8.5 percent of all labor income in 2017.
Hudson’s manufacturing industry began to decline mid-century, and though many companies held on for decades, the city fell into disrepair and dysfunction in the 1980s, when it was overrun by the crack epidemic, lack of economic opportunity, and police corruption.
Antique dealers began to set up shop in the city in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and were followed by artists, then second homeowners and NYC transplants.
The city of just 6,200 has received an increasing amount of media coverage in recent years, including write-ups in New York Magazine, Bon Appetit, Travel and Leisure, Newsday, the Huffington Post, and numerous articles in the New York Times.
The bids from consultants must be received by Jan. 15, according to Volo.