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Letters of Support

Hi Skip,

An attorney friend of mine brought me the Sun News article that tells of the MBACC issue.  I applaud and support your efforts 110%.  

I have been in the In Room Guest Directory business for more than 15 years. For 10 of those years the majority of my income was earned right here in Myrtle Beach. That was, until the MBACC went into the Guest Directory business.  FYI…. I know firsthand of the “conspiracy” that went down here all those years ago. The company I used to work for had contracts with more than 30 of the top resorts here, including the Brittain properties and I personally had more than 80 advertising clients.

I am living proof of the unfair business practice of the chamber.  I was a financial casualty of Brad Deans/David Brittains effort to rule the advertising world here in MB. I initiated several meetings with Brad Dean, each time leaving his office feeling like he didn’t care one little bit that  I was facing financial devastation. I was right, he didn’t care. Why should he care about me?  He was earning a fortune and I would soon be living below the poverty level. The straw that “broke the camel’s back” was the passing of the 1% tax.  I had to fold. I could no longer compete with the MBACC.  

I am still in the Guest Directory business, but no longer work in Myrtle Beach. I cannot earn a living here, so I took a position with a different company and now travel to 10 other markets a year.

I am 53 years old and have lived in North Myrtle Beach (in the same house) for the past 30 years. My only child recently graduated from USC in Columbia. I have been a single parent since she was 3 years old. I am a credible lady with a real story.   

Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to financially contribute to your effort, but I felt compelled to connect with you anyway. Please let me know if I can be of any help. I welcome the opportunity to talk with you…should you want to connect.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story.  Maybe my words will serve as further inspiration in exposing Brad Dean and his cast of overpaid characters.  You have my support!  

Thank you, 


Skip:

I share your concern and distain for the chamber abuse taking place now on Hilton Head Island.  The results of the limited dollars currently being used to promote Hilton Head Island tourism can be seen just driving down 278 – the Sam’s shopping center --one-third vacant, the Mall is essentially down to just two merchants now, the rest is vacant, empty space.  A retail tomb! Fresh Market Shoppes Center – now about half empty! Pope Avenue- for lease signs everywhere, Coligny Plaza- many vacant storefronts with for lease signs. The business support areas of the Island- Matthews Drive, New Orleans Rd., Marshland Road, Beach City Road, are all full of vacancies and for rent signs.  Hilton Head Island is obviously in severe economic decline. Meetings and conventions on Hilton Head have declined to almost non-existence.

Tourism—more paying visitors -is needed now more than ever for our Island. It is time- long overdue, to put together a focused marketing and advertising campaign to bring visitors back here throughout the year- not just the summer months (although there has not been a “no vacancy” sighting even during the high season in recent years on Hilton Head!)  and restore Hilton Head Island to its proper place as one of the premiere vacation destinations in the US.

The Island needs a facelift, a sprucing up- a fresh look that can only occur if the tourism dollars make their way here.

Under the present structure we have now on Hilton Head of a combined Chamber AND a Visitors and Convention Bureau all under one roof, we will never see a focused campaign to bring conventions, groups, meetings, families and tourists to the Island.  To cover the outrageous salaries of the Chamber employees, that you have documented, and fund such projects as cookbooks, resume writing tips and templates, jobs postings, Chamber Ball, Business Expo, etc, etc…  In Bill Miles’ most recent blog of February 13, 2012 he states “ With limited budgets for marketing, it is extremely important to make sure each dollar … toward attracting new, upscale visitors to our destination.”

Well, it’s clear after paying the ridiculous salaries, and funding all of these ventures that have nothing to do with a tourism marketing strategy for Hilton Head, Miles admits that he has a limited budget for what is needed most—getting more paying visitors here!

Most all cities and tourist destinations (at least the successful ones) have a COMPLETELY SEPARATE Visitors and Convention Bureau from the Chamber of Commerce just for the reasons outlined here--- The Chamber does not have a FOCUSED MARKETING AND ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN TO BRING MORE VISITORS HERE.   The CEO of the Chamber admits in his MOST RECENT blog that after all the other pet projects and the salaries are covered, there is “limited budget for marketing”  --EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED MOST -NOW!!  It is clear that the present structure of the combined Chamber and Visitors and Convention Bureau will never provide the focused marketing and advertising we need desperately for Hilton Head Island.

Isupport your efforts and offer a proposal (attached) to set up an organization structure to take a major step to address this lack of effective marketing for Hilton Head Island.

Thank you for all you have done without any compensation whatsoever – to make Hilton head Island the premiere vacation and tourist destination.

Best Regards,

 


 

Skip,

This is great. I love the case you are making. The brick and mortar Chambers are getting close to ridiculous.

It seems apparent that our local Chambers in Western, NC see the writing on the wall. Because their membership roles are declining, our Chambers are becoming more-and-more defensive. They are threatened and have become irrational. They are beginning to lash out. I believe they are making false claims about the value of local digital networking and marketing as a result. Local brick and mortar travel agents lashed out too with the advent of Expedia and Travelocity..and for good reason.

There are simply better ways to skin the cat these days. Business is evolving and powerful digital tools that were once cost prohibitive and out of reach for the local business owner are now readily available and affordable in the cloud. Indeed, many of these new tools are FREE! It's only going to get harder and harder for local Chambers to keep pace and adapt to modern-day digital networking. These new social media venues are most definitely a threat to overpaid Chamber executives and their old guard tactics. It's insightful of you to pick-up on this as I had no idea these Chamber folks were knocking down the $$$ they are knocking down.

Even outside of digital, there are more effective ways to network for SMB's. I do the marketing for a syndicated business columnist and business coach http://www.growwithsynergy.com who shares my sentiments. He conducts Mastermind Groups with local business owners and he runs circles around the local Chambers in the Charlotte, NC markets. I have participated in a couple of these groups. The general consensus among business owners, in these Mastermind's, is their local Chamber is broken and is a waste of time. These business owners will typically send a lower level staffer to attend Chamber events for them as they have become disenchanted with the "Live-at-Five" type of events that gain them no new business.

Without a doubt, the value of the Chamber membership is diminished and has jumped the shark. My marketing agency is full digital. We help local business folks on a daily basis make the transition from traditional advertising to digital. My typical local business-owner client is hanging out there with two or three mortgages on his or her house, raiding her 401-K and his kid's college fun, etc., trying to make a go of it in a tough economy. In many cases, he or she feels they don't have a choice but to keep their membership with the local Chamber active or else become labeled as a misfit or an outcast. This bullying of the American small business person needs to stop.

I personally do not want or need the help of a non-profit or a government agency to make my business work better. I will do just fine being resourceful and profitable without their smoke and mirrors. Internet technologies are the great equalizer. I believe a renaissance is about to occur among small business owners taking on the big boxes. New tools are available to do battle with now and the old brick and mortar Chamber is not going to make the list of weaponry.

I applaud your efforts. Keep the heat on high. This word needs to get out across the USA.


Jeff Greer
Easyfish Marketing

 


 

Mr Hoagland,

Thanks for standing up and shining a light on the Chambers Abuses. Your 20 point issues are a great kickoff for the Island packet's investigative reporters to validate these points and others found along the way. It does not seem we are getting true value for the moneys this organization obtains other than a jobs program for the staff. Hopefully this will be vetted out soon and bring value to its mission and goals:

"The mission of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce is to advance the common interest of our membership, stimulate the expanding regional economy and enhance the quality of life for all. As a chamber, we strive daily to meet the needs and surpass the expectations of our more than 1,600 members. The results-oriented approach has earned us the National Chamber of the Year award in 2000 and 2006. The chamber is also one of only 93 three Destination Marketing Organizations nationwide that has achieved accreditation through Destination Marketing Association International.

Whether it’s networking opportunities, referrals, governmental advocacy, and educational programs or attracting visitors, the chamber is dedicated to giving members a tangible return on their chamber investment. "

Seems like this organization should be transparent and post their last 3 years of 990 forms if in fact they are a non-profit.

ET



 

 

Hey Skip do me a favor I was out of town on Sunday and cant find out what u said but I already know it is on track I tried 5 or 6 times to get through to them/wrote the reporters at the Island Packet (he told me I was annoying him) and yes I still have copies. WHY ME? I have been in hospitality 35 years and for 6 of those years happen to be as the Past Executive Vice President of Palm Beach Convention & Visitors I set up their initial program. Resume attached, send me the article may be we can get them OUT! I am currently on HHI through the end of the year and hopefully not returning to Asia ….

Spot on! Let us not forget they utilize tax dollars as well…public money public disclosure

Best Wishes,


Michael D.

 




Saw your Sunday notice. When I first moved here 6 years ago I immediately joined the chamber. At the first meeting I attended there were maybe 50 people and 45 of them were realtors, full or part time. I didn't get much help networking. I dropped out for a different reason but a serious issue none the less. When the Chamber took a stance supporting illegals because "the tourist industry needs them" I quit. I have never rejoined and as I found out more about how they operate I knew I would never rejoin them. I sympathize with you but fighting the "good ole boy network" is difficult. I hope you make some inroads. Thanks

Respectfully


Arthur M.


 


I feel that you have raised some very serious questions about how our Chamber is being run and where the money is being spent to market our island and the businesses that support our Chamber.

Additionally, your questions raise the possibility that the Chamber board is a "hand-picked" board that continues to perpetuate the abuses alleged in your complaints. As such, an independent committee, made up of chamber members, needs to be chosen and convened to address your concerns immediately.

Those are my thoughts and you may advertise them as such.....

Kim D.

 



We will not re-join the chamber. They did nothing for us.

Paul and Sondra A.



I will help in any way. Especially in this economy


Tim S.



Skip:
Couldn’t agree more that the Hilton Head Chamber is out of control. At an average of $400 per year membership, it takes 1,000 businesses just to pay the annual income of Bill Miles. Many more memberships needed to pay for the bloated staff of some 27 or more.

I have seen first hand the disinterest of the CoC regarding area start-ups. They really don’t care to get involved to help and I believe as you do that the CoC is competing with many local businesses, which could also be the reason for their disinterest. I have had several experiences in the past several years that cause me to strongly believe that the CoC needs a total overhaul. I think your 4 solutions are valid. Along with separating CVB function from the Chamber I believe the area businesses would be best served to eliminate the Hilton Head Bluffton Chamber and instead create a Beaufort/Jasper County Chamber to attain better economies of scale and to provide a much needed focus on business start-up and expansion issues in the bigger picture of economic development. Let the CVB focus on tourism only. In doing so the CVB can be staffed with a much lower number of individuals. There should also be a requirement for the CVB (and Chamber) to “buy local” whenever possible. They obtain services today from all over the US and the world, which could easily be procured in the local area or at least in South Carolina.

Again, great ad in the Packet today. Great job in creating the awareness of this serious issue. Maybe we could find like-minded business owners willing to “Occupy Chamber of Commerce Drive” in the coming days to bring more attention to the issue. Bet the press would cover that in a heart beat. Let me know what I can do to help.

Respectfully,


Peter B.

 


 


You ad is telling some interesting truths about the local Chamber of Commerce that have long need to be told. It is unbelievable how long this good ole boy network has been working. Keep it up!

Sara Tiffany



BRAVO!!!!! It is soooo wonderful to see someone finally taking a stand on the abuse and neglect of organizations. You are my new hero Mr. Hoagland!!!! I was going to join the chamber because of what I believed it stood for and had no idea of the abuses.

Whatever the next action is, if you need bodies, I’m in! Thank you so much for looking out for your fellow business persons. You are appreciated more than you will ever know!!! Thank you again.


Beverly H.



Congrats....I support everything you said....just sorry I have not written the newspaper before now....I’ve thought about it a hundred times.

I am so glad someone stepped up......


Robert D.



Dear Skip,
I agree wholeheartedly with your letter in Sunday’s Island Packet. I have no dog in this fight, as I don’t own a business and have been retired for ten years. I have disagreed with the outrageous salary that Bill Miles has been pocketing for many, many years at the expense of the businesses who are Chamber members. I remember how shocked I was, and still am, when I first learned that Miles was taking in excess of $300,000 a year when many small business owners were and are still struggling. I have trouble understanding how the Chamber justifies the number of people currently employed there.

The obvious change in demographics (call that quality) of visitors to whom the Chamber is directing its marketing efforts has played no small part in the ratcheting down of the status of Hilton Head Island in the perception of the general public. The Chamber has failed to maintain the allure of what we should have been all along. The attractiveness has lessened, as evidenced by the number of empty stores (how many stores do we really need?) and other failed businesses. We just aren’t what we used to be!

I wish you good luck in taking on this smug established group.


Paul D.



Firstly, I would like to thank Mr.Skip Hoagland for his time, effort and financial resources he has dedicated to providing the Paid Advertisement regarding Chamber of Commerce Concerns and Abuse.


I am a permanent resident of Hilton Head Is and over the past years have developed some of these same concerns; in particular the salary structure of board president and its allocation of funds. Basically I am in agreement with all of these issues you raised, even though some impact local business owners more directly. As a taxpayer I am in total disagreement with the position of our HHI Town Council as expressed in the past. The town elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility to see that all of our tax monies are spent wisely, and in the total budget pot one can’t distinguish monies from HHI Taxpayers from other dollars of income received by the C of C. Essentially our tax dollars are in fact subsidizing outrageous salaries of Chamber officials and expenditures by the C of C.

You should be applauded for also proposing solutions to the issues you raise, and they deserve serious consideration by all entities that fund the C of C. I hope our local Tea Party organizations also take an interest in these issues.

Wishing you success,

D.

 


 

Like your article totally agree i think he even got a raise recently? which i thought was wrong everyone elses income has gone down and they get a raise?


Kathy H.

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