The Evanston Lodging Tax Board (DBA VIsit Evanston), is funded through the Uinta County Lodging Tax. This tax is assessed on hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, and all other overnight lodging businesses. The organization uses these funds to promote Evanston travel and tourism nationwide. The board has created three different grant programs to offer event coordinators in our City.
1. Prime Season Marketing Grants
Prime season event grants will be considered as events that take place July 1 through Labor Day in any calendar year. For events taking place during the prime season, the maximum grant available is $1000 per event night. For multi-day events, no more than $2000 can be awarded per event up to three days. This grant will be used for marketing outside a 50-mile radius of the Evanston community.
2. Off-Season Marketing Grants
Off-season event grants will be considered as events held the day after Labor Day through June 30 in any given calendar year. For events taking place during the off-season, the maximum grant available is $1500 per event night. For multi-day events, no more than $3000 can be awarded per event, no matter the length of the event. Off-season events are being awarded larger grants to encourage organizers to consider times when area lodging facilities could use more visitors.
3. New Event Grants
The Board will consider three new event grants per fiscal year. New Event Grants are capped at $2,000.00 each. The purpose of the grant is to provide capital for a group or individuals interested in bringing a new event to Evanston to drive tourism. The Board meets at City Hall (1200 Main Street) in Evanston on the third Monday of each month at 1:00 PM. Following the submission of a new event grant, the applicant is required to "pitch" the event to the board, the pitch should include a pro-forma, or event financials, and estimated lodging nights. The minimum requirement is 30 hotel nights.
The board may provide the grant up front with proof of expense provided at the meeting following the event completion. Or reimburse expenses already paid by the event coordinator after submitting a qualifying invoice.
Grants will be evaluated individually, with the most significant consideration being the total number of hotel/motel rooms that an event will fill. Any given event must fill a minimum of 30 hotel/motel rooms to be considered to receive a grant. This is only five percent of the total hotel/motel rooms in the community. The only exception to the 30-room minimum will be for new events that may need to start small but are likely to become major community attractions. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The 30-room rule was implemented on September 28, 2015.
Dates and times of the event will also be a consideration. The Evanston Lodging Board wants to encourage retail spending and fill hotel/motel rooms. Therefore, events that encourage retail shopping or eating at local restaurants will be looked upon more favorably.
Also, recipients of grants will be required to return to the Lodging Board surveys completed by ten percent of the event attendees, up to a maximum of 50 surveys. Hard facts and figures will allow both the grant recipient and the Lodging Board to evaluate an event and determine if any changes can be made. Also, these surveys will eliminate the emotional element or personal judgment of the success of an event. The survey questions will be included with the grant application.
Timely completion of all documentation and surveys will be a consideration of any future grants.