Catering to boomers the key to resort success
The economy, which has never been black or white, is guaranteed to be caught in a sea of gray for the next five to 10 years.Baby boomers, the up-and-coming generation of gray hairs, will have a dramatic effect on the future of the local, regional and national economics, said James W. Light, president of Chaffin/Light Associates, at the Carbondale Community Chamber of Commerce annual business conference Thursday. Since 1996, when 76 million baby boomers started to turn 50, seasonal tourism in the valley has shifted, Light said.”The growth of baby boomers is like trying to squeeze a tennis ball through a snake,” said Light, who is nationally recognized as a leader in resort development.To accommodate the largest, wealthiest demographic of tourists and seasonal residents, the valley needs to address some changes, Light said.As the incidents of knee and hip replacements increase, skiing is no longer the most popular pastime for baby boomers.Golf and other summer hobbies are more attractive to this demographic, so summer tourism is increasing as winter tourism decreases, Light said.The boomers also want high-end hotels and restaurants, but there’s a catch: They don’t want the big-box stores they see at home.Creating authentic places with unique structural design such as Basalt and Carbondale is pleasing to tourists and residents, Light said.Restaurants such as Bernard’s in Basalt have an opportunity to bring flavor and personality to an area.”People want personality,” Light said. “The owner of Bernard’s is French, for God’s sake, and he’ll throw you out if your cell phone goes off during dinner.”Building positive relationships between seasonal residents and permanent residents is critical, Light said.Oftentimes the two groups don’t understand each other. Seasonals want to be a part of the community while permanent residents can resist them because they resent their money and don’t understand their desire to blend in with the community, Light said.Residents need to recognize that when they feel welcome and are educated about local programs, seasonals can be very generous to businesses and nonprofits, Light said. “We need to recognize this community is presented with an opportunity to enhance the mind, body and spirit of the greater community,” Light said.Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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