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Visit Lodi! seeks nominations for annual luncheon

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Posted: Saturday, February 26, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:07 am, Sat Feb 26, 2011.

Think someone in the community deserves recognition for making Lodi a destination for tourists? Visit Lodi! Visitors and Conference Bureau wants to hear from you. The bureau is hosting its fifth-annual tourism luncheon in May and is looking for nominations for its Tourism Advocate and Winery of the Year awards.

The awards recognize individuals and businesses who have worked to increase awareness of Lodi as a vacation destination. The awards ceremony will be held May 3, at Wine & Roses Spa and Resort. The bureau is accepting nominations until Mar. 14. Nomination forms can be obtained by calling Bianca Diaz at the bureau at 365-1195, or by e-mailing bdiaz@visitlodi.com.

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  • Jackson Scott posted at 7:55 pm on Mon, Feb 28, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 392

    Kevin, so you're talking about UNIQUE events like the Sand Crane Festival and the Lodi Cycle-Fest sponsored by Michael-David Winery? These two events draw in alot of people for the weekend from the bay area & the central valley.

    These are two solid events whose demographics are perfect for wine consumption too. So they're intown for the weekend, spend the night, eat at our restaurants, most likely vist a few wineries, and then go home. Perfect!

    It would be nice to have additional unique special events in town, but you're dealing with alot of people that do not see the BIG picture. You and I look at the garden and admire the flowers blooming while these others only see the weeds.

    Now, in all fairness, Lodi will never be a Napa or Willamette Valley. Why? Well, we dont have picturesque rolling hills. We're a simple uber-flat valley. You gotta play the cards were dealt with.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:46 pm on Mon, Feb 28, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Will this luncheon utilize the reasonable facilities at Hutchins Street Square or the pricy Wine&Roses? Organizations tied to the city of Lodi should be urged to utilize HSS rather than the same old good old boys watering spots with the budgets being tight.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 3:16 pm on Mon, Feb 28, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2108

    I don't think finding sponsors and competitors would be a problem. What the biggest obstacle is is location. I'm talking about closing a 1/4 mile road for at least a weekend, maybe more depending on entries.

    This is why a dedicated track would be better with facilities provided. Right now there are land possibilities, but none zoned for what I would need (they are all residential). A beautiful one up by Galt that even has a long arm from the main land which would be great for the track. I could probably get a conditional use permit for the concept. So the main issue becomes cash flow. I guesstimate $500K to get started between the land, track construction, two steel buildings, and the little fun stuff like power (mostly if not all renewable) and septic. That will hopefully not be an issue in a few years.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 3:46 pm on Sun, Feb 27, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 542

    I have a couple of thoughts for you. First, I'd contact the local bike shop on Ham Lane to see if they might have some interest. I have a lot of friends who are into serious biking and I would think you wouldn't have any problems garnering some support. Certainly there must be some bike clubs in Lodi as well. You might also contact some of the local service clubs.....Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, etc. Perhaps they may look at it as a fund raiser as well. Anyway......just some of my thoughts.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:59 am on Sun, Feb 27, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2108

    Looking around I have found just a couple Bicycle Drag racing events in the country. But it is catching on. Most are impromptu gatherings. Lodi could start a whole trend for this kind of racing and give people who love to race bikes but not to ride long distances an outlet. Instead of the tour de anywhere which requires long distance endurance training, drag racing is all about the power you can get to the wheels as fast as you can. for 1/4 -1/2 miles. Categories can include single speed, multiple gears, 20in, 24in, 26+in tires. There would be heats, qualifiers and such. There can even be challenges, like if Lodi flames Challenge the Tokay tigers to a best of race, or Target vs Walmart, or St Annes vs St Peters, Stockton vs Sac team, Stockton hockey vs Soccer vs football vs baseball in a last team standing challenge, thinking bigger even 49ers vs Raiders best of challenge (THAT would be some good advertisement).

    There is no reason to limit the event to bikes either. We could make it a bike, in-line skate, skateboard challenge to draw an even larger crowd. This would probably be a week long event then. We'd have to book a band or two+ for night time entertainment. Local breweries and wineries would of course be able to get in on the action with nightlife entertainment.

    With the right press coverage and outside local groups participating, maybe some celebrity guest appearances, within I'd guess three years Lodi would be known nationally for the Lodi Power to the Ground Drag Race (name subject to change) and the tourism dollars would be big.

    It would be even bigger if Lodi had a specific area dedicated to the event so it didn't look improvised. I'm just talking a four lane track (1/4 and 1/2 miles options on single track), bleachers, a steel building or two for vendors and racers to prepare. Land would be the biggest expense but the businesses in the area would see a good boom every year+ for the events. A dedicated site would also allow for multiple smaller events through out the year to help recover the costs. These would be business parties to blow off steam (who wouldn't want to challenge the boss to a race for office bragging rights?), birthday parties and even just a Last Friday open event for community bragging rights. After Ten at night one of the steel buildings would turn into a dance hall (with hopefully a live band) and a REAL nightlife scene would happen.

    I actually believe strongly enough in this that I have started thinking how I could drum up the dollars to start something like this.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:16 am on Sun, Feb 27, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2108

    Personally, although the wine industry is a viable tourist draw it is also a very limited market with a LOT of competition. To stand out we need to be unique with unique draws. How many Zinefest or wine and chocolate type events are there around the country? Why would ours draw a difference making crowd? How do our events measure up to other events people could choose? It is all info seeking. The more that is known about the who,what,where and why the better focused our tourism recruiting dollars can be spent. Type in "wine fest" and look at who we are competing against for tourism dollars. After looking at several of their websites then look at http://www.winecountrythisweek.com/articles/celebrate-6th-annual-zinfest-wine-festival. Taking out the personal bias of liking Lodi, which ones would you want to go to? Personally I like the http://www.coloradowinefest.com/. Compare their events to Zinfest. Much more diverse activities and more than just come taste our wine attractions. I would be curious to see the numbers break downs for the Colorado events vs Lodi's to see percentage wise who is drawing people from outside the region more effectively.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:59 am on Sun, Feb 27, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2108

    Yes Josh. Lodi is building a solid reputation for it's wine so there is no reason to abandon what is working. The events I suggest would be in addition to in order to attract an alternative crowd to that of the wine connoisseurs (yes, I had to spell check that one).

    Thinking about it last night if Lodi wants to build the wine industry more then we really need to build the food industry around it. One or more high end restaurants with a big reputation. This came up discussing where to get a GOOD steak dinner. The consensus was to go to San Fran. I know there was at least one winery that was putting in a restaurant to compliment their wine but I don't know what has become of that. And if locals don't know about it then people outside won't hear about it.

    Josh, the people from the East coast who have come out to the wine events, how much info did you get from them? I mean are they in the food industry looking for unique wines for their establishments or are they collectors, or just common folk who love wine. I would suspect one of the first two which would classify them as business tourists. Not a bad thing. If most of our out of region tourists are business tourists then that is where we need to be building a bigger reputation.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 6:22 am on Sun, Feb 27, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 542

    Kevin, I am guessing you are suggesting that these new events would be in addition to wine events like Zin Fest, Wine & Chocolate, etc?? I've run into people from the East Coast who have come out just to attend that event.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:38 pm on Sat, Feb 26, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2108

    Okay, so what should be the first step? It has to be information gathering. Who is coming here, why are they coming, who comes back, what percent of people come for Lodi (excluding visiting family). How far away are they coming from? How is Lodi's reputation outside the region? Is the only thing Lodi is known for the wine industry? Where are we ranked for where people want to go for wines? When tourists come here what are their impressions, what do they think of their stay, what do they tell their friends and family about their stay here?

    Really, all these questions are things Visit Lodi should already know. If not then they are not promoting Lodi's tourism industry, they are promoting the wine industry. the two are connected but not the same. If they are treated as the same then ther will never be a tourism industry.

    Here is the main question that has to be at the for front as lodi develops it's tourism industry, "Why would someone pick us over our competitors?" Think of it this way; if you opened an Italian restaurant next to another Italian restaurant why would a customer choose yours over the other? Tourism is the same way, why choose Lodi over another town.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:29 pm on Sat, Feb 26, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2108

    Josh: It all depends on what Lodi wants to be known for. Personally I think taping into the fitness industry may be a good fit for Lodi. A while back I talked about creating a cycling event in lodi, not a long distance event, that, like wine tasting, is common. I'm thinking more of a cycling drag race event. It has actually been a mental exercise of mine to think about how it would be ran. Outside of that there are a few fitness events that Lodi could build a reputation around.

    lodi needs a night life. Despite what the Visit Lodi website says, Lodi does not have a night life. They have a few drinking places but not a night life. Last fall I began asking people who have lived here their whole life where the best place was to take my wife dancing, they all said the same thing, Sacramento. The bars and clubs in Lodi have a rep of being dangerous or a joke. A REAL night club with a large dance floor and a good rep as a place to be attracts people back.

    Google Lodi Award winning food and what do you find? Nothing. We have great wine and average food, regionally speaking.

    The Grape Bowl needs to be utilized much more than it is. It is a small venue so large bands may be a problem to attract, but Lodi, in an attempt to build a regionally known night life that can attract people away from Sacramento or Stockton then we need to attract bands. A place where stand-up routines can be done will attract people, but only if it is close to where they are staying.

    there we have another big problem. 11 out of 16 hotels on Cherokee, two more at I-5, Wine and roses, and two chain hotels that of them selves don't attract people. Where are the tourists suppose to stay that will make them want to come back?

  • Josh Morgan posted at 7:47 pm on Sat, Feb 26, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 542

    Kevin, what are your thoughts about improving tourism in Lodi? In your opinion, what would make Lodi more attractive. Was it attractive before the attempts by the wine industry? When you really think about it, wine tasting in Lodi is really only something that has developed over the past ten to fifteen years. My understanding from many of the growers is that when the bottom fell out of the grape contracts they got into the wine making business to make up for those losses. In any event, I would love to hear your ideas.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 5:35 pm on Sat, Feb 26, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Kevin, you illustrate the dim prospects of the tourism industry in Lodi. The same stale leadership of tourism advocates, chamber of commerce, visit Lodi, Lodi wine and visitors' center, Downtown Lodi BusinessPartnership, etc., haven't come up with
    any new ideas to replace or supplement the same old boring adults only wine drinking events. The $125,000 or so Ms. Beckman is paid, not counting the unseen nor reported
    perks and freebies, could be better spent on outside consultants that specialize in tourist type events, especially those that include family activities, and not just alcohol. The current leadership seems only in enriching the overabundance of mediocre wineries, the Wine & Roses and themselves. The location of the wine and visitors center at the Wine & Rosesproperty and motel does nothing to attract visitors to downtown Lodi and gives the appearance of pandering to the owners of that business, who are a big part of the influential good old boys. Why isn't the wine and visitors center located in downtown Lodi with many tenant spaces available at a much lower cost? That way the existing visitors center now downtown in a hard to locate upstairs location, could be merged into one wine and visitors center, leaving extra taxpayer funding to hire an efficient event planner with outside contacts and resources , eliminating just an overpaid, well-connected individual that has produced no real results since the center was built at Wine & Roses. It's time to reevaluate the program and make much needed adjustments to the leadership and wage levels that have stagnated the growth of tourism to Lodi. The same old local participants seem to be the mainstay of Lodi wine events and not the tourists.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:14 am on Sat, Feb 26, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2108

    "Vacation destination"? Please. Lodi is a one trick pony, alcohol, specifically wine. Which wouldn't be a bad thing but you can find the same thing up and down the West coast at much more desirable locations. Look at http://willamettewines.com/events/willamette-valley-events/ then look at Visit Lodi pics and tell me which one looks more like a place to enjoy wine?

    Under Visit Lodi in order to get info on what is happening (events) you have to fill out an on-line form. First thing I think when I see on-line forms is another source of junk filling my e-mail accounts. Willamette Valley has it listed out, by the month for all to see and plan with no junk filling their e-mail.

    I love Lodi and it is a great place to live. Family likes to visit here (which is a large portion of our tourism dollars I suspect) but outside of visiting family and buying wine there isn't much for them to do here.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, Lodi needs a UNIQUE event to draw tourists here. Something that makes people go home and tell others that they should come here. Looking through the Visitlodi website, there is nothing there that can't be found in any other winery area (okay, maybe not the Serpentarium, but how many people is that going to attract?). Shopping, please, there isn't a single shop listed that can't an equivalent can't be found in any other town. Big-5 a reason to visit Lodi? Maybe the new Costco will do it. 16 hotels, 11 on Cherokee Ln, not the most tourist attractive area.

    I'm sorry I'm so harsh on Lodi's tourism attempts. With a tourism background I get very fired up about it. Lodi needs to find a tourism identity that can't be found all over the West coast. Someone might visit for the wineries, but there is nothing to draw them back since the wine can be ordered on-line.



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