Two Carol Stream hotels will get financial support from taxpayers to help fund marketing efforts of the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau for at least the first six months of 2013.
The marketing agency, founded in 1987, is changing how it collects its membership fees and, as a result, is asking municipalities countywide to contribute to its tourism promotion efforts.
On Monday, the village board voted 4-0 to spend $4,892 to become a municipal member of the bureau on a six-month trial basis. That dollar amount represents a portion of the agency's increased fees for the Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn that operate in the village.
Village Manager Joe Breinig said hotel officials told him they need the assistance to help pay the increased fee, which will total about $10,000 more next year, at a time when they're trying to rebound from a decline in business.
A formula developed by the DCVB seeks a defined portion of the hotel/motel tax the village receives from the two hotels in town -- in total, $13,480 for all of next year. The village would cover 73 percent of that amount, and the two hotels would cover the rest.
If the payment isn't made, Breinig said, it could mean a loss in so-called "leads" for the hotels from the DCVB for events such as weddings, reunions and conventions that might come to town. The result would be fewer room bookings.
"There's a little trepidation on their part because what they've been told by the convention and visitors bureau is that they'll be cut off," Breinig said. "I think what they're saying is, 'Can you work with us? Can you help us?' They find themselves in this situation where the (DCVB) has changed the game suddenly at a time when they (the hotels) can't afford it."
Trustee Greg Schwarze initially questioned the necessity of the village's contribution.
"If I were a business owner and I saw something out there that would benefit my business and make me more money, why wouldn't I pay that? Why would I look for someone else to pay that?" he asked.
In the end, though, he said it appears the hotels are struggling and need both the bureau's marketing help and the village's financial assistance to pay for that marketing.
Though exact numbers on each hotel's profits aren't public, village records show a decline in hotel tax revenues from $351,849 in 2007, to $300,423 in 2008, to $230,850 in 2009.
Recently, there appears to be some signs of recovery, with $270,229 in hotel taxes reported last year.
Breinig said the trial run would allow village staff the opportunity to get "hard information" to see if there's measurable benefits to the membership.
"It's a small amount to buy six months time (and) see what's going to happen, and hopefully we'll be able to figure out from there what we're going to do next," Village President Frank Saverino said. "I don't want to continue to pay the money, but in the meantime I don't want to hurt our two hotels."