How to make Colorado’s hot springs hotter
Inside the Chamber
When tourism promotion folks get together, we generally discuss the business of marketing our individual destinations. However, last September, at the Governor’s Colorado Tourism Conference in Crested Butte, an important collaboration was formed that is blossoming into an exciting opportunity for 19 hot springs attractions represented by five destination marketing organizations.
The Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop was created by the five primary thermal hot springs communities in western Colorado, who came together to form a unified marketing partnership. The resort towns of Glenwood Springs, Ouray and Ridgway, Pagosa Springs, Chaffee County and Steamboat Springs are all physically connected along a 722-mile route including several Colorado Scenic Byways. By putting their collective heads together, the tourism marketing leaders from these five destinations applied for a Colorado Tourism Office grant and were awarded $25,000 to match their individual $5,000 each, thus garnering $50,000 to boost the collective promotional efforts. Each area has multiple hot springs facilities ranging from small intimate spas to large commercial operations.
Glenwood Springs: Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves
Ouray and Ridgway: Ouray Hot Springs Pool, The Historic Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings, Orvis Hot Springs, Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Spring, Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs
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Pagosa Springs: The Springs Resort and Spa, Overlook Hot Springs Spa, Healing Waters Resort and Spa
Chaffee County (Buena Vista, Nathrop, Salida): Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort, Cottonwood Hot Springs, Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center, Alpine Hotsprings Hideaway, Antero Hot Springs Cabins and Creekside Hot Springs Cabin
Steamboat Springs: Old Town Hot Springs, Strawberry Park Hot Springs
This team effort has been very well-received not only by the individual destinations, but also by the Colorado Tourism Office and a number of media representatives and international tour operators. Here are the main reasons the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop has had such a welcome reception:
• The number one search term on Colorado.com is “hot springs.” That is a strong indication that visitors want more information about our thermal waters.
• Visitors can easily spend one or two nights in each area and have completely unique experiences all along the way.
• Anyone can enjoy a hot springs — they are welcoming to any age, ability and nationality.
Goals and objectives of the program include:
Building awareness: Not many travelers realize that they can easily visit a wide variety of hot springs facilities in the western Colorado Rocky Mountains. There were no efforts to encourage vacationers to visit multiple hot springs as the main focus of their trip. Promotional efforts will increase this awareness.
Increase visitation and extended stays: Having a detailed trip plan all mapped out in advance makes it easy for guests to decide where they want to travel. Perhaps this type of itinerary will entice people to visit places that they had not previously considered. International tour planners appreciate multiple-day itineraries as their customers tend to spend several weeks when visiting a new destination.
The Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop consortium is currently developing a website landing page that will live on Colorado.com, a printed brochure that will be available in visitor centers within the five destinations and will also be translated into Chinese and Japanese, and Brand USA videos that will be in English, Mandarin and Japanese. There will also be dedicated email blasts and social media efforts to enhance the awareness of this marketing collaboration.
For more information about the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-230-9035.
Lisa Langer, IOM, is vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
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