Paradise Valley finds solid return in Experience Scottsdale investment

A view of an Absolutely Scottsdale print campaign set at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley appearing in the January issues of American Way, British Airways, Southwest and Sunset magazines. (Submitted photo illustration)

One of the largest annual expenses of the Town of Paradise Valley is its yearly General Fund allocation to Experience Scottsdale, which provides the lifeblood of local revenue a larger voice on a worldwide stage.

For all intents and purposes, Paradise Valley Town Council is pleased with the return on its investment.

Under a 501(c)6 nonprofit umbrella, the private company known as Experience Scottsdale holds contracts with both the city of Scottsdale and Town of Paradise Valley to conduct marketing efforts on behalf of the municipalities.

For this current fiscal year, the Town of Paradise Valley is providing $1,311,919 in bed-tax remits, which is in tune to the municipality’s five-year agreement with the marketing entity, according to Experience Scottsdale Vice President of Community & Government Affairs Rachel Pearson.

In addition, Experience Scottsdale partners with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community for its marketing needs.

Last November, Paradise Valley Town Council put into motion a formal appointment position through an amendment to Section 2 of the existing town code.

Mark Stanton

Paradise Valley Councilman Mark Stanton is and has been serving in a liaison role between the local governing body and Experience Scottsdale leadership. He was appointed to the post for a one-year term that ends June 30, according to Tim Gomez, executive assistant to Town Manager Kevin Burke.

“I asked Kevin to put this on the agenda because I think, one, it is such a huge part of our budget and such a huge part of our existence and what we do for our stakeholders,” Mr. Stanton said of the annual seven-figure Experience Scottsdale allocation.

“This is the season for Experience Scottsdale and what they do — they are kind of in the middle of their big game. The marketing push happening in the colder markets and some of the feeder markets that we target.”

In his report Councilman Stanton assured a recent audit of Experience Scottsdale pointed to a well run machine with notable financial oversight in place.

“There was a full thorough report that will go soup to nuts on everything that they found,” he said of a Jan. 11 Experience Scottsdale Board of Directors meeting. “They found a clear audit and they found — that there is always room for improvement — but nothing that was there was any problem or worth a further look at including compensation as I know compensation — that popped up.”

Councilman Stanton, who is a longtime tourism professional, explained to his colleagues the Experience Scottsdale investment is money well spent.

“I’ll tell you from 1987 to today we have been represented well. I will tell you, I could not be prouder of how they represent our community,” he said. “It is really a bright light of partnerships that we get what we do with Experience Scottsdale.”

Experience Scottsdale President and CEO Rachel Sacco during the Oct. 23 annual meeting. (File photo)

Fair share

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins recalled that during the recent contract negotiations with Experience Scottsdale the question of contribution parity came up between portions of bed tax remits allocated by the Town of Paradise Valley and the city of Scottsdale.

“We are talking about their annual financial audit and a performance audit that the city of Scottsdale auditor performed and one of the things of concern was parity connected to the Fiesta Bowl as well as just related to marketing,” Mr. Burke said during the work session discussion of the 2017 audit and political dust-up across municipal boundaries.

“Paradise Valley seems to get a lot of business out of the marketing — you should be just marketing these things. That tension definitely culminated with the Scottsdale agreement and Experience Scottsdale contract expiring July 1 of 2017 and I know it didn’t get adopted until August.”

Paradise Valley Councilman David Sherf called into question the accusations made in the 2017 audit reports focused on Experience Scottsdale operations.

“This was an audit report that was so off the rails it was laughable. The whole industry, they have lined up 100 percent behind Rachel,” he said of Experience Scottsdale CEO Rachel Sacco.

Rachel Sacco

“Why isn’t everybody spending in Scottsdale? Well, people have choices, you know? This audit report, it was almost obscene. It got overheated, I don’t think you won’t find anyone in this community that is not happy with Experience Scottsdale.”

For three decades Ms. Sacco, a Paradise Valley resident, has been the knowledge base for all things tourism in both the city of Scottsdale and the Town of Paradise Valley.

“Experience Scottsdale has partnered with both the Town of Paradise Valley and the City of Scottsdale since 1987,” she said in a Jan. 17 statement to the Independent.

“It has been a pleasure to work with civic and hospitality leaders from both communities these past three decades. As we have built the puzzle that is Scottsdale’s destination brand, Paradise Valley has always been a piece. Both communities benefit from the influx of visitors to the region.”

Ms. Sacco often points to hotel stays in Paradise Valley equate to usage of Scottsdale amenities.

“Visitors staying at Paradise Valley resorts can enjoy Scottsdale’s amenities, spending their dollars on the city’s museums, restaurants, galleries, golf courses and attractions,” she said. “Likewise, Scottsdale visitors can dine at restaurants and unwind at resort spas in Paradise Valley. We believe that working closely with both communities has benefited the entire region.”

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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