Inside the Chamber: Tourism promotion from a 30,000 foot level
As communities grow, they evolve into more diverse hubs in which the economy can grow on many levels. In Glenwood Springs, our tourism or “visitor” business has grown to a level that is truly more of an economic driver than any other industry in town, save health care. This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone who knows the history of this community. After all, it was the foresight of Walter Devereux that transformed hot water bubbling up from the Grand River into an elite hot springs resort destination.
The work of a destination marketing organization is to promote the attractions and activities available in the community it represents. For Glenwood Springs, the chamber serves as vendor for the tourism marketing contract and operates a tourism department whose staff works in concert with the city’s appointed tourism promotion board. This board serves in an advisory capacity and reports directly to the Glenwood Springs City Council.
This year was the first year since my arrival here in 2012 that more people applied than there were seats available on the tourism promotion board. Twelve very qualified citizens applied for four open positions. It’s gratifying that so many residents were willing to volunteer personal time to help guide the future direction of tourism marketing for the community. On March 10, the new board, a mix of seasoned Glenwood Springs tourism business leaders and newcomers with fresh perspective, met in a planning session that set the stage for collaboration that will take Glenwood Springs to new heights. The dynamic group is not interested in wading through the day-to-day workings of staff and details with advertising vendors, but instead wishes to fly to a higher altitude and take a more strategic view of tourism promotion. Listed here are a few of the 30,000-foot ideas that flowed during the four hour meeting.
1. Increase funding: The tourism promotion fund is derived from the accommodations tax on room nights within the city limits of Glenwood Springs. This pass-through tax was established in 1981 by a vote of the citizenry. It is currently at 2.5 percent and has been at that level since 2000. There has been a steady increase in accommodations tax receipts since the economy dipped in 2009, but the static number of available rooms coupled with the steady increase in costs to advertise and increasing budgets of neighboring resort destinations makes it harder for Glenwood Springs’ tourism promotion budget to compete for market share.
2. Implement research: It was noted that community visitors’ demographics have been expanding in the past several years. Accurate data allows for streamlined advertising and media placement. The tourism staff has been tasked with seeking proposals for implementing visitor studies as early as this Memorial Day.
3. Expand the reach: Remembering that neighboring resort communities have much larger promotional budgets, it is prudent to take a regional approach when marketing Glenwood Springs. By promoting the proximity and leveraging the visitation of neighboring communities, we play to our strengths as a great destination for a multitude of activities and attractions. In turn, we expose the drive market not only to the nearness to larger tourism hubs, but also to the excellent accommodations and amenities that exist here.
Twentieth century journalist Herb Caen got it right when he said, “A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.”
For more information about the tourism promotion fund and the city of Glenwood Springs’ oversight of the board and its relationship with contracted marketing vendor, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, please contact me at email@example.com or 970-230-9035.
Lisa Langer is vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
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