Council Approves Fiscal Year Budgets for Marketing, Chamber and Tourism Activities

The Beverly Hills City Council approved the 2023-2024 fiscal year budgets for the Rodeo Drive Committee, the Conference and Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce during its May 2 meeting, allocating nearly $5.5 million to their programs and initiatives.

The council authorized more than $4.8 million to the Conference and Visitors Bureau, in addition to $150,000 in unused funds carried over from last year; more than $450,000 for the Chamber of Commerce; and approximately $211,000 for the Rodeo Drive Committee.

“We’re very grateful and lucky that the city of Beverly Hills has supported our activations, our proposals and our programs,” Rodeo Drive Committee President Kathy Gohari told the Courier in a phone interview after the hearing.

The Rodeo Drive Committee’s budget for the upcoming year includes $26,000 for banners and advertising for a new undertaking dubbed “Rodeo Drive Celebrates.” A branding opportunity for shops on Beverly Hills’ most iconic retail street, “Rodeo Drive Celebrates” consists of two upcoming weeks of activities–Rodeo Drive Celebrates Fashion, held August 7-13, and Rodeo Drive Celebrates Timepieces and Fine Jewelry, scheduled for Oct. 1-7.

The group’s approved budget also includes approximately $185,000 for continued digital marketing, social media management and website maintenance. At the meeting, members of the Rodeo Drive Committee spoke of their successful efforts engaging audiences on TikTok and Instagram, saying they preferred utilizing social media that can capture the visual appeal and unparalleled aesthetics of Rodeo Drive. They said Instagram continues to be the number-one channel for the Rodeo Drive Committee.

Meanwhile, the Conference and Visitors Bureau’s (CVB) work plan for the year ahead includes attending marketing events across the country and international trade shows, pursuing a new merchandise partnership and strengthening its marketing by launching an email acquisition campaign.

“We really want to build up our international business,” CVB CEO Julie Wagner said, addressing the five-member council.

“We’re very excited about the refresh for the Visitors Center,” Councilmember Lili Bosse said. “The [CVB] board consists of the best of the best in terms of visionaries, in terms of marketing.”

Similarly ambitious, the Chamber of Commerce’s proposed programming for the upcoming year includes participation in the annual New York Business Attraction and Retention Mission, during which Chamber leaders and City Council members meet with businesses in the hope of bringing them to Beverly Hills while enhancing relationships with businesses already operating in the city. The Chamber is planning approximately 24 meetings with companies in New York–6-8 for retention purposes and 16-18 with new businesses.

While the Council approved the Chamber’s budget request, Councilmember John Mirisch said he’d like the group to reevaluate what kinds of businesses it pursues.

“I’d love to see us not just go for low-hanging fruit, but I’d like to see us broaden the approach,” Mirisch said.

Mirisch also said the Chamber ought to focus on businesses that are physically located in Beverly Hills not just those that use the Beverly Hills name.

The meeting kicked off with the council introducing Robert van Leer, the recently named executive director and CEO of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Council members spoke about the close relationship between the city and The Wallis, which recently hosted the installation ceremony for Beverly Hills Mayor Dr. Julian Gold and Vice Mayor Lester Friedman.

Van Leer, who assumed his post with The Wallis on April 1, said he looked forward to strengthening the partnership between Beverly Hills and the performing arts center.

In an ongoing effort to spotlight successful and valued businesses in the community, council members also spotlighted the Drago brothers, who own and operate several high-end Italian restaurants in Beverly Hills and often cater city-run events.

Standing beside the restauranteurs in the council chambers, one councilmember after another gushed over the food at Il Pastaio, one of the Drago family establishments. Councilmember Bosse likened them to “family,” saying dining at their restaurants consistently felt like being “home.” 

The two-and-a-half-hour hearing concluded with Michael Hensley, deputy director of public works, providing a brief customer relations program update. 

The City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for May 16.