Inside the Chamber: Encouraging tourism in a suffering economy
Like other Colorado mountain towns, Glenwood Springs has seen more than its share of challenges this year. Some would ask, “How can you top a worldwide pandemic?” The answer is clear for those of us in the Roaring Fork Valley. Just throw in a major fire that closes one of the nation’s most vital transportation arteries.
Prior to the fire, Visit Glenwood Springs, the tourism department of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, was making great strides in bringing back tourism to our community and area. The Glenwood Gold Summer Stimulus program had been well-received. Of course, with social distancing, mask-wearing and lower capacity protocols, things were not as busy as last year. However, according to many of our tourism partners and other economic indicators, business was picking up.
August 10, the fateful day that the Grizzly Creek Fire began, would see another downturn in visitation to our fair community. Some just couldn’t get here. Others couldn’t abide the smoke-filled skies. This second “gut punch” was enough to end the summer season for several tourism businesses.
Through all this turmoil, one thing is certain: Glenwood Springs’ businesses are resilient. They face a challenge head-on and soldier through the worst of times. Though times are tough right now, things will get better. The tourism department is trying to persuade the good times to come back sooner than later.
Visit Glenwood Springs has extended the once “Summer” Stimulus campaign through the end of November to incentivize visitors to “come back” to Glenwood Springs. This campaign encourages those who book a minimum two-night stay at an intown lodging property during weekdays, with a gift of $100 in Glenwood Gold community currency. Of the thousand “gifts” available, there are still close to two-thirds left. Since relaunching the campaign last week, and thanks to some great news coverage in the Front Range, there has been a great deal of interest with new bookings coming in daily.
This incentive program has been beneficial in several ways. First, it encourages weekday check-ins, which helps the entire Glenwood Springs community manage social distancing and lower capacity gatherings. Secondly, it injects an extra $100 into the local economy through the Glenwood Gold community currency. Thirdly, more than 50 percent of these visitors are extending their stays longer than the two-night minimum.
The Visit Glenwood Springs fall campaign has already launched with an enhanced digital presence featuring an Expedia page takeover, Colorado.com native and retargeted ads, Google Ads, TripAdvisor link-in page, programmatic ads, YuMe and Sharethrough video ads, and newsletters to more than 40,000 potential visitors. There are animated leader boards running on the Altitude Channel during Denver Nuggets games. Glenwood Springs videos are prominently featured in both the Eagle-Vail and Aspen airports. The Colorado Love magazine features a full-page ad and we have email advertising in the Salt Lake City market. There are radio ads on Denver’s Total Traffic Weather Network, Entercom Traffic Radio, CPR and Pandora Internet Radio. Besides the paid advertising, VisitGlenwood social channels are pushing out positive messaging and encouraging visitation with daily postings.
With news of Hanging Lake and its trail being saved from the fire’s destruction, the announcement of reopening of Bair Ranch activities, and the clear blue skies above it is evidence that Glenwood Springs and its tourism-based economy is gaining upward momentum. The tourism department takes its role of destination promotion seriously. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at how Visit Glenwood Springs markets, feel free to sign up to receive our Tourism Insider newsletter. To do so, simply email email@example.com.
Lisa Langer is director of tourism promotion for Visit Glenwood Springs, a department of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. For more information checkout VisitGlenwood.com.
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