The Will O' The Wind balloon skims across Bald Eagle Lake during the 2007 Hot Air Balloon Rodeo. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is using a limited marketing budget to attract visitors to events this summer.

File photo

The Will O' The Wind balloon skims across Bald Eagle Lake during the 2007 Hot Air Balloon Rodeo. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is using a limited marketing budget to attract visitors to events this summer.

Chamber plans marketing

Agency's budget down 10 percent; 2 new events in the works

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— Competition for tourist dollars is expected to be fierce this summer. It'll be so fierce, in fact, that the head of the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association wouldn't breathe a word of her strategy.

"I thought you were kidding when you asked me that question," Director Jane Chaney said to a reporter Friday.

Chaney's group clearly has a plan. But so does the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, which is preparing its summer marketing arsenal on a trimmed budget. The Chamber has cut some advertising but is planning two new events, Marketing Director Lynna Broyles said.

"Overall, our strategy has been shifted a little bit from previous years," Broyles said. "We will certainly be targeting our drive market, our regional market as much as possible. We will maintain even with a reduced budget our presence in the Front Range."

The Chamber's marketing budget is $564,200 this year, she said, about a 10 percent cut from last year. The city of Steamboat Springs has agreed to pay that $564,200 to the Chamber during 10 months. In winter, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. handles marketing.

As part of its tweaked budget, the Chamber won't do any television advertising this year, Broyles said. She's reduced national advertising and has no money for research.

The Chamber has ramped up its Web site and plans to hit hard on statewide advertising. Broyles also has set aside money to continue a popular promotion. The Chamber offered $50 gas gift cards to visitors last year, which were good for any Chamber member gas station or Chamber business. She plans to offer 60 of those again.

"That's something that was an added bonus," Broyles said. "They could go buy a T-shirt or a sweatshirt or whatever they wanted or have a dinner on the gift certificate. : That was extremely successful last year."

With its promotions, the Chamber targets families with a household income of at least $75,000, she said. Nationally, the group courts visitors from Texas, Florida and Arizona, for example.

Other mountain towns have prepared their summer campaigns. Officials from chambers in Summit County, the Vail Valley and Aspen were unavailable to talk or did not return calls seeking comment.

Vail plans to extend its winter Vail All the Love campaign into summer, according to the Web site for the Vail Valley Partnership's Chamber and Tourism Bureau.

The Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council and the town of Vail are putting $700,000 into the program, which launches the week of May 18 and targets Front Range and destination visitors.

In addition to advertising, the Steamboat Chamber is putting $75,000 into new event development this year. The Chamber has planned a Steamboat All Arts Festival for Aug. 20 to 23 and an Oktoberfest event with a Steamboat twist, called OktoberWest, for Sept. 18 to 20.

The art festival will include a range of activities, Broyles said.

"That is a culmination of all different types of art, performing arts, music arts, culinary arts, film, photography, everything," she said. "So we've kind of just rallied with the local art community to get this together, and it will be a fun-filled, a packed schedule."

The OktoberWest event is in the early planning stages, Broyles said. It could include a cooking contest and events for children, she said. The festival will be geared toward families and Oktoberfest-lovers, Broyles said.

"We want it to be an all-American type Oktoberfest, because that's who we are," she said.

The goal is to inspire people to aim their cars toward Steamboat this summer, Broyles said.

"You have to give people reasons to travel right now, and I think with our regional campaign, that's going to be our approach," she said.

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