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Visitor's center closed at Centennial Hall

JCVB cuts costs to improve other areas of service

Posted: November 1, 2011 - 11:01pm
Kelly Moore of the Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau looks out over a darkened visitor's center at Centennial Hall on Tuesday, a day after the center was closed.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Kelly Moore of the Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau looks out over a darkened visitor's center at Centennial Hall on Tuesday, a day after the center was closed.

The Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau has closed its Centennial Hall center as a cost-savings and strategic measure.

JCVB President/CEO Lorene Palmer said the Centennial Hall station is now closed, but staff will still answer the phone and answer questions throughout November as they move out.

“We’ll still help people, we’re still moving,” Palmer said. “We’re spending the month of November packing up and getting ready to move and put things in storage. Between our website and our phone, we’re still available to answer questions.”

Palmer said the decision was made during a board retreat in January. The bureau has a stable revenue stream, Palmer said, but the cost of doing business is going up.

She said JCVB also is moving its office space out of its current location and into a cheaper one. Between the closure and the move, JCVB will save more than $50,000.

“We came to the conclusion our energy and time were better served at (other locations),” Palmer said.

They will continue to operate Visitor’s Center stations at the cruise ship visitor’s center, Marine Park Kiosk, Juneau International Airport and the ferry terminal.

“We will redirect those savings toward our marketing efforts,” Palmer said. “How can we meet our objective and our mission, which is promoting Juneau in the market place? We had to make a strategic decision. It was from both a budgetary impact and a marketing objective priority.”

Palmer said it was part of a difficult strategic decision dealing with budget realities and maintaining the bureau’s objective.

According to JCVB data, the Centennial Hall center saw 16,000 visitors annually. Marine Park Kiosk and the cruise ship terminal had about 50,000 each. The airport and ferry terminal have less solid numbers as the airport is staffed by volunteers part-time in the summer, and is self-serve at other times, while the ferry terminal is entirely self-serve. Palmer said the airport data this year shows 6,500 people were assisted at the visitor station.

“I expect the airport numbers are going to go up greatly as we can keep more volunteers out there on a regular basis,” she said. “That’s our goal.”

Palmer said they’re working on getting volunteer staff out there year-round as well.

“The bulk of Juneau’s visitors come between May and September,” Palmer said. “I’m confident we will still be able to give great service to the majority of visitors that come to Juneau.”

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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