ViewPoint: Keeping CC customers is easier than replacing them

August 23, 2007

For the last 20 years Albany has been host to Quail Unlimited's Celebrity Hunt.  But Q.U.'s directors say price increases in the latest proposal from the Albany Civic Center could force them look for other locations to hold their largest annual fund raiser.

Executive Director Rocky Evans said, "There are some areas in here that are deal breakers."

Dozens of stars of Hollywood, sports, and music, come to Albany to hunt at Plantations across South Georgia, as a fund raiser for the wildlife conservation group, .and their visit injects hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Albany economy. 

For three nights, Quail Unlimited rents the Civic Center to hold dinners and auctions, but Evans said the price increases on the rental of tables and chairs quoted by the Civic Center stunned them.

"480 tables used to cost $800. Now we must pay $3,000.  Chairs, even worse, it went up 600%."

Civic Center Director John Mazzola said the Civic Center has not increased rates since July 1996.

Have we missed something? Are we suddenly so booked at our civic center that we must jump pricing?  There is surely no reason to go crazy in one year, move up slowly each year, if our prices are so low.

Mazzola also said they needed to raise equipment rental rates so that the Civic Center is not a burden on the taxpayers of Albany. Our civic Center is not a burden, it's an investment to attract business and conventions.

And it's going to be a burden if he runs off all our existing customers.

Mazola said "The pricing on the tables and chairs was actually adjusted to mirror the local rental companies." That's nice. Is he aware that we're in the convention business, not the equipment rental business?

After Quail Unlimited brought this matter to the media's attention, the city says we are willing to negotiate to keep Quail Unlimited in Albany.  Should not that open line of communication have been established from the beginning?  That's just good business.

I'm sure Valdosta and Thomasville are just waiting to benefit from such poor decision making and bad business practices.