Business traveling to front door of tourism marketing consultant
After walking away from a good-paying job and opening her own business, Vicky Shropshire is doing fine.Shropshire established her marketing and public relations firm, Resort Trends, on Feb. 28, 2001. The pay was great at her previous job; the prestige wasn’t bad either. But after a year and a half in a sometimes contentious atmosphere, she decided she’d had enough.For Shropshire, starting her own business was not too risky a move. She has a strong background in resort marketing and urban planning.While an undergraduate at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Shropshire worked for University Travel, a mini travel agency at the university that organized group trips for college students.”We didn’t get paid but we got to go on the trips for free,” she said. “We had so much fun.” After earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1986, she landed a job with a Denver tour operator – the same company she used to book college ski trips.In 1993, Shropshire enrolled in the University of Colorado. She graduated two years later with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, with a focus on sustainable tourism development in mountain resort communities.In 1995, again with the ink barely dry on her diploma, Shropshire went to work for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association as marketing director.Shropshire has had two tours of duty with the chamber, from 1995 to 1996 and from 1998 to 1999.”The tourism industry is known to be fickle. I’ve changed jobs a lot since I’ve been here,” she laughed.Another of those jobs was with the Colorado Tourism Office, an outgrowth of the Colorado Travel and Tourism Authority, which had its funding cut by the voters in 1994.Loss of the authority’s $13 million budget was a blow to communities such as Glenwood Springs that relied on it for regional marketing, Shropshire said.Tourism-related businesses joined forces and formed the Colorado Tourism Office in 1996 and Shropshire, who worked out of her home in Glenwood Springs, was hired to recruit members on the Western Slope, then statewide.But it proved difficult to sign on members, and a year later the office cut the staff in half. The cuts included Shropshire.Just then the marketing director’s job at the Glenwood chamber opened up and Shropshire stepped in. But that too was short-lived.In 1999, “Snowmass Village Resort Association approached me. They said, how would you like to work with a $750,000 budget?” she said.She liked that just fine.But she soon learned that businesses in Snowmass Village were losing their competitive edge to other resort communities. “They weren’t upgrading. Their business had been so good, they didn’t feel they needed to. But competition with other resorts was strong and they were losing market share,” she said. After a year and a half on the job, Shropshire knew it was time to break away and strike out on her own.”I enjoyed working with a lot of organizations in the state. There are so many companies that want to outsource” that is, hire consultants for public relations and marketing rather than doing it in-house, she said.So far, business has been good. In the past year, Shropshire has included on her client list the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Northwest Travel Region, Colorado Campgrounds and Lodging Owners Association, the Basalt and Glenwood Springs chambers of commerce and Hill and Co., an Edwards advertising agency.Just last week Shropshire signed on the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool.Shropshire is putting together a public relations plan for the pool, one of Glenwood Springs’ oldest businesses.”The focus will be on Colorado and the region,” she said. “We want to build a mid-week business. We’ll be offering packages of lodging and pool passes.”Most of Shropshire’s work has been project related, she said.Recently she designed a website for the Northwest Travel Region, http://www.nwcolorado.org.Although not a computer “techie” herself, when contracted to build a website, she hires a design firm and oversees the graphic presentation and the text of the website.Shropshire works from a home office.”I share my office with my three cats,” she said.”All I need is a phone, a computer and a car,” she said with a laugh. “I’m on the phone a lot. I travel to Denver once a month for Colorado Tourism Office meetings. The hardest thing is to stay on schedule.”Shropshire doesn’t advertise. She doesn’t need to. Business comes in the door through her wide network of contacts, both locally and through the state organizations to which she belongs.Only once in the last year did her business take a drop, immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.”It affected the tourism industry immediately,” she said. People were afraid to fly for months and resorts such as Vail and Aspen suffered from a decline in bookings. Glenwood Springs, however, was not affected, she said, because it is a drive-to destination. “But now everything is back to normal,” she said.Shropshire can be reached at 947-9134.
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