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   These are the stories we are working on for this week's newspaper:
  • Quick fix: A plumbing problem is forcing the Plumas Unified School District to move its headquarters to the former probation building.
  • Lesser charges: A former Chester Public Utility District general manager pleaded guilty to reduced charges last month in connection with unauthorized use of a district credit card at a Reno strip club.

Lake Almanor business owners work to generate more Basin tourism

  A group of Lake Almanor Basin businesses are working together to promote the area as a vacation destination.

  For the last year, five local businesses — Wally’s Peninsula Market, Knotty Pine Resort and Marina, Lake Almanor Brokers Realtor Joe Gilmore and Smith Properties — have been working on a marketing campaign that reaches out to residents of the Reno/Sparks area to come visit Lake Almanor.

  A series of specially crafted television commercials went live on cable TV at the end of August 2012. Each commercial was individualized per business; however, the beginning and end of each commercial had the same message — visit Lake Almanor.

  Video footage was shot from the Basin during every season, and then edited to draw people into the area. A unique advertising campaign has been incorporated with the commercials that directs viewers to visit the group’s newly established website, visitlakealmanor.com.

  The website is still under construction and will include information about different things to do, areas to visit and places to shop.

  “We have the only website (in Plumas County) that has a real marketing campaign designed to drive traffic to that website. I firmly believe that by us doing this, we can help drive business to the area,” said Wally Blem, co-owner of Wally’s Peninsula Market. The plan is to build off the paid advertising and draw people into free advertising sources, such as Facebook and YouTube.

  In addition to the website and the television advertising, the group is building a kiosk that will be used as a visitors center. It will contain maps and information on what to do and where to go in the area. The location of the kiosk has yet to be determined. However, the plan is to put it in an area at the west end of Chester.

  The goal behind the kiosk is to entice people to stay and explore the area, rather than drive straight through it.

  A website launch party was held at the Red Onion on May 15 to tell people about Lake Almanor’s new website and to pitch the marketing campaign to other local businesses.

  A membership package was offered for a commitment of at least three months, at a minimum price of $500 per month. For this price, members will have access to the kiosk, website and commercial advertising.

  Blem said businesses throughout the area seem to be divided depending on what sections of the Basin they are in. He, as well as the other business owners already involved, believes the community needs to work together to bring new life to the Basin.

  He said that several new businesses have already signed up for the membership and that they “made some progress at bringing a new attitude and new willingness for the community to work together.”

  During the meeting, Blem said that a couple visiting from Reno told him they never even knew Lake Almanor existed until doing a Google search for “lakes around Reno.”

  He emphasized his belief that this is a poor way for people to find out about the area, and that it is important for the community to publicize the true beauty of Lake Almanor.

  He said the commercials have been doing just that, and he, as well as other business owners, has already seen the benefits of the outside advertising.

  One Lake Almanor resident shared an experience that he and his wife had during a trip to Reno. He said they were sitting in between two different couples that overheard him say where he lived. The Reno residents told them they had seen the commercials, and wanted to know more about Lake Almanor. One person even said the commercials prompted them to plan a trip here once the weather clears up.

  The goal of the advertising campaign is ultimately for the community to work together in making Lake Almanor a tourist destination.

  Blem expressed his dissatisfaction with the current options available for tourist attraction and said, “If you don’t acknowledge what is going on you can’t change it. We are acknowledging that there is a problem and moving forward.

  “We are suggesting there is a different way to do things. We can always go back to the way we were doing things, but what is important here is that everyone is doing something.”

  He added that this membership is not meant to replace memberships that businesses may already be a part of, but rather it is meant to provide another option to business owners.

  He said that everyone is equal, and there is no pride or ego involved. “We don’t have meetings, we have parties. We want to have fun, we want everyone to get along and we want to be positive. What we are doing is going to benefit the whole Basin.

  “We are all striving for the same goal, and if we are successful, everyone will be better off.”


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