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Carson Valley Inn positions itself as getaway

John Seelmeyer

Bill Henderson is nobody’s fool, and he’s not about to tangle with Indian casinos on their home turf in California.

“We can’t go into California and outpromote them,” says the director of sales and marketing for the Carson Valley Inn, a hotel and casino property in Minden.

But faced with a reduction in visitors from California’s metropolitan areas, the Carson Valley Inn is targeting an entirely different big city Reno.

And so far, it’s working.

“We’ve seen an exceptional increase in awareness of the Carson Valley Inn,” Henderson said a few days ago.

More important, that awareness is translating into increased bookings at the property.

The pitch that Carson Valley Inn makes in its advertising in the Reno market is simple: “You don’t have to go a long way to get away.” Behind that one-sentence tagline is a tactical approach in which Carson Valley Inn and its owners Jeane and Patrick Mulreany seek to capitalize on what it perceives as four advantages:

* Northern Nevada visitors to the property don’t need to fly a consideration that remains important in the post-Sept.

11 environment.

* At the same time, they don’t need to drive very far only about 45 miles from Reno.

That’s important when gasoline prices have been unsettled with Mideast war.

* People who want to get away while remaining close to home couples leaving children for a weekend, for instance are less than an hour away when they’re in Minden.

* Because northern Nevada is a selfcontained media market, the Carson Valley Inn can reach its target market fairly easily.

Even as the Carson Valley Inn was rolling out its campaign in the big city to the north, the property’s managers were devoting extra time to training of the inn’s 600-plus employees.

“You have to pay off on the promise,” Henderson explained.

Along with patrons from the Reno market, leisure travelers from northern and central California many of them golfers and Douglas County residents are key pieces of the market for Carson Valley Inn.

Like other properties in the region, Carson Valley Inn increasingly positions itself as the “base camp” for outdoor adventures.

The spring edition of a 16- page magazine the inn mails to customers, for instance, devotes two full pages to nearby outdoor activities ranging from fishing to mountain biking to a tour of historic barns.

The combination of regional, California and local business has been sufficiently strong that the inn has been in a near-constant state of expansion ever since it opened in 1984 with 100 hotel rooms, five table games and 155 slots.

Today, the facility includes 153 hotel rooms, 76 rooms in the nearby motor lodge and 59 RV sites.

The last big expansion project completed in 2001 added 275 slots the inn now has about 740 along with a new cabaret lounge, a new pool and fitness facility, and a larger sports book.


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