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Town council awards contract for 2011 visitor guide

Awarding production of the 2011 Visitor Guide to the local Cassio Group on Tuesday night, the Pagosa Springs Town Council voted to end the TTC’s (Town Tourism Committee) two-year relationship with The Sun for the publication of the Visitor Guide.

Council member Shari Pierce (an employee of The SUN), recused herself during the entire discussion, returning to chambers only after council had voted.

After Pierce left the room, TTC President Bob Hart and TTC Fulfillment Subcommittee Chair Jim Smith sat before council to explain the decision to select the Cassio Group. According to Smith, following an April request for proposal, the TTC met with The Sun and the Cassio Group twice, then met with the Cassio Group a third time before awarding the contract.

“We did not do this lightly,” said Smith. “Changing horses midstream makes you nervous.”

While roundly praising the product The SUN had delivered to the TTC (“It’s a little too good, too popular,” Smith said), Smith cited the expense of publishing and mailing the Visitor Guide as a primary reason for changing vendors.

“We’re spending more than a quarter of our budget on fulfillments (mailing and producing Visitor Guides),” Smith said.

According to the TTC, over $100,000 was allocated to fulfillments in the 2010 budget.

Conversely, the Cassio Group’s proposal stated that the TTC would receive all profits from advertising in the guide, with that money used to offset some, if not all, of the expense of mailing the guides.

Another point of contention that apparently favored the Cassio Group was that, while The SUN retains complete ownership of intellectual property (editorial content, photographs, graphic design, etc.), the Cassio Group would merely produce intellectual property for the TTC, allowing them unlimited access to content and the freedom to use it in anyway they see fit.

Finally, the Cassio Group claimed it would produce not only printed guides but also supplemental web content, including DVDs, online video, cellular phone apps and social media interfacing, as well as various other technological adjuncts for promoting the guide and Pagosa Springs.

In the end, Smith said that votes from the TTC’s Fulfillment Subcommittee and the TTC’s voting board approved the Cassio Group’s proposal unanimously.

Likewise, minus Pierce, a motion by council member Jerry Jackson, seconded by council member Stan Holt, was approved unanimously.

While the TTC will distribute the Cassio Group’s version of the Visitor Guide starting late spring 2011, The SUN will continue publishing the Pagosa Springs Official Visitor Guide™ (The SUN has published a guide for 30 years.), distributed locally and mailed upon request.

jim@pagosasun.com