Inside the Chamber column: International tourism elevates Glenwood’s economy | PostIndependent.com

Inside the Chamber column: International tourism elevates Glenwood’s economy

Lisa Langer
Inside the Chamber

Lisa Langer

Colorado is a dream destination with many dreamy locations and activities within the state's boundaries. How can Glenwood Springs, a small community with a modest promotional budget, reap the benefits of the state's robust marketing arm, the Colorado Tourism Office?

The answer is collaboration.

The CTO offers cooperative marketing opportunities for Colorado destinations of every size. One of the most affordable partnerships for Glenwood Springs is participation in FAMs, or familiarization tours hosting. International FAMs help increase awareness of destinations and the activities, attractions and amenities within. Most often, the in-market CTO reps (companies in eight international markets that are under contract to represent Colorado to their constituents), will contact the state tourism office to coordinate FAM tours with the top media or trade associates from their respective countries.

CTO then organizes the tour by contacting the destination marketing organization in each community that will be featured (such as the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association for the city of Glenwood Springs). The destination marketing organization then contacts its respective lodging partners and attractions/activities to line up the itinerary for the FAM. Generally, these tours are in an individual destination from four to 18 hours total. The itinerary usually includes an activity or two, a couple of meals and an overnight stay. The most successful FAM tours are ones in which the destination marketing organization representative(s) spends time introducing the destination.

Trade FAMs are made up of tour and travel agents that represent individual travelers. These FAMs come to a community to either develop product to sell to their customers, or to enhance a package or offering that has already been established. For example, some operators ask for contacts to lodging properties that they will then approach to set contracts for future bookings. Likewise, there are media FAMs with pre-qualified journalists that request specific Colorado destinations for pitching story ideas including hot springs, hiking and biking, train travel, wellness and more. After their visits to Colorado, participating destinations get links or copies to various articles in which they are featured.

In 2018, Glenwood Springs hosted 17 international trade and media FAMs, with 88 participants, representing the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom.

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The Glenwood Springs tourism promotion department (part of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association) takes pride in its ability to stretch marketing dollars to gain the biggest benefits for the entire community. Yes, we promote our geothermal attractions widely, because they have put us on the map. Increasing visitation, especially during the week and on shoulder seasons, is good business for not only the largest attractions, but also for every business in this community.

Tourism is one of the most powerful drivers of Colorado's economy, creating jobs faster than any other industry sector while fueling business income and tax revenues that support everything from schools to transportation to municipal services. In 2016, Colorado attracted 82.4 million visitors who spent a record $19.7 billion, generating $1.2 billion in state and local taxes. The chamber's tourism promotion department will continue to collaborate with CTO in cultivating longer stays by out-of-state and overseas visitors. As we continue to drive visitors to our destination, the overall economy of the city will continue to reap the benefits.

Special thanks to all the Glenwood Springs hospitality partners who have participated by hosting FAMs for free or reduced rates. For information about how your business can be a host, contact Lisa Langer, director of tourism promotion at lisa@glenwoodchamber.com.

Lisa Langer is director of tourism promotion for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.