Caitlin Rowcrow@gjfreepress.com

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February 28, 2013
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Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau predicts 2013 to be a big year for local tourism

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Tourism ranks high on the list of Grand Valley moneymakers. And to better promote positive economic growth, the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau (GJVCB) is thinking big. An intensified marketing push now makes sense because, according GJVCB Division Manager Barbara Bowman, "tourism has really turned a corner (for 2013) in the region. ... Consumer confidence has come around and the intent to travel is there."Bowman recently returned from three, back-to-back tourism trade shows, and she said the "positive demeanors of tour companies are a real indication. They're looking at new ideas and at new tour itineraries.""We see new kinds of business coming into the valley," she added. "Hoteliers are (also) telling us spring occupancy is looking good."So, to seize its share of Colorado's ever-booming visitor segment, the Grand Valley's tourism experts are looking outside the box with calculated marketing risks. This year, the VCB staff aims to explore new digital territory with a revised strategy focused mostly on mobile and web marketing. First-time events, along with staple favorites, also aim to attract bigger groups and fill more hotel beds. Plus, the VCB wants visitors to know the area is far more than just "wine country," with better promotion of all the "-ings," like cycling, hiking, rafting, golfing, you name it."It's an extension of the wine country lifestyle," Bowman said.

To reach more prospective travelers from around the globe, spokeswoman Mistalynn Meyeraan said the VCB is currently restructuring its advertising budget with a new digital-heavy strategy."We're going less traditional," Meyeraan said, with an expanded focus on the VCB's web and mobile presence and online ads, rather than print and billboards.Creating new content through videos, audio and storytelling techniques will "tell the story of wine country," she added. "Wine is what makes (the Grand Valley) unique. ... We want to show the big picture, show them our lifestyle."Meyeraan also said that an e-Book created in 2012, "23 ideas to bring wine country into your life", will be formatted for other avenues of distribution, including eReaders beyond the iPad and on the VCB website. That said, not all print opportunities are dead. Placement will simply be more calculated.For instance, a CBS billboard near David Letterman's television studio on 42nd Street in New York City is currently advertising the Grand Valley's Wine Country through April 14. The VCB was able to buy the billboard space for a huge discount."They pulled a video game ad due to violent content," Meyeraan said. "We got it for $17,000, and we split the cost with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership."That billboard space typically goes for approximately $105,000.Besides the price, "the attraction is the high volume of traffic that passes by it each day," Meyeraan said. "These are business men and women, tourists visiting New York, locals and a large number of media outlets based in New York City. It is a one-time opportunity to be visible in an area that would typically be unattainable for Grand Junction."

Big groups, like the returning Tour of the Moon Cycling Classic through the Colorado National Monument Oct. 6, are important to the Grand Valley's travel economy as well. And to attract more large tour companies through Grand Junction, the VCB aims to support lots of events throughout the warmer, traveler-friendly months.For instance, there will be a new bike event Labor Day weekend on Main Street downtown - the "Grand Junction Off-Road Endurance Mountain Bike Event and Concert" - along with another the same long weekend, the "Western Colorado Classic Auto Event."The mountain bike event will host "a sanctioned pro race with 600 riders expected in its first year," Bowman said. Plus, the family friendly bike festival will be centrally located downtown adjacent to Two Rivers Convention Center, with an expo and music open to everyone."We're trying to fill in shoulder season times, weekends that need more heads and beds," she added.Another brand-new bike race, called Rumble at 18 Road, is set for April 13-14 in Fruita. It's a USA Cycling Nationals Qualifier Cross Country and Short Track Mountain Bike Race with a 450-athlete cap. According to the VCB website, the top 10 riders in each class and category will be qualified to compete in the USA Cycling 2013 Mountain Biking National Championships. Classic events - like WineFest in Palisade, Tour of the Vineyards, Country and Rock Jams, the Fruita Fat Tire Festival, and more - are on the VCB's very full calendar, too. Currently, there are 79 special events planned between April 1 through Oct. 31, and more will definitely be added."We look at new event submissions or seek more info on a daily basis," Meyeraan said.


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The Post Independent Updated Feb 28, 2013 06:05PM Published Feb 28, 2013 03:55PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.