Steamboat’s summer tourism season is expected to peak this weekend as visitors will be in town for The Wine Festival at Steamboat and Ride 4 Yellow events.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat’s summer tourism season is expected to peak this weekend as visitors will be in town for The Wine Festival at Steamboat and Ride 4 Yellow events.

Steamboat could hit peak of 12,000 visitors this weekend

Steamboat Chamber tempts fall tourists with spending spree

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— Steamboat’s summer tourism season will peak Saturday with as many as 12,000 visitors in town for The Wine Festival at Steamboat and Ride 4 Yellow, among other events, and already the Chamber Resort Association is preparing to hand out mad money in an effort to extend the resort season into fall.

Chamber Marketing Direc­tor Lynna Broyles confirmed this week that the Chamber will launch a promotion Sunday with an ad in The Denver Post travel section that offers people $300 in spending money if they book a three-night stay here by Wednesday.

The Chamber’s lodging baro­­­­­meter sampled bookings at key properties here to arrive at the prediction that 11,300 visitors will spend the night Saturday in city limits. That’s already higher than the 10,300 people who checked into Steamboat on the corresponding Saturday in 2009. But a summer’s worth of tourism stats indicate strong walk-up business this weekend.

On July 31, Steamboat provided overnight accommodations for 1,500 more people than was forecast by the lodging barometer. A similar trend could mean more than 12,500 visitors this weekend.

Any walk-up guests to Steamboat this weekend will have their best chance to find lodging in the condominiums at the base of the ski area. Steamboat lodging properties will be 82 percent full Saturday night, but the only lodging category that isn’t already more than 90 percent booked is in the ski condos. The Lodging Barometer reports that mountain condos were 73 percent full as of Aug. 4. Mountain hotels were 94 percent full, downtown motels and luxury condos were 93 percent full, and U.S. Highway 40 motels were 95 percent full.

But with many American families preparing to start another school year, tourism is expected to drop by half after this weekend.

“We’re entering a softer season when you have to truly motivate people to make a trip,” Broyles said.

Hence the Chamber’s new promotion. Visitors who book, by Wednesday, a three-night stay here to take place before Oct. 31 will be rewarded with $300 in Chamber Bucks in denominations of $25. Chamber Bucks can be used on any purchases, other than lodging, at Chamber member businesses.

Broyles said the strategy is to motivate vacationers within a tight booking window by making them an offer they can’t resist.

Chamber Media and Public Relations Manager Molly Kill­ien said the intent is tap into human psychology and grant the visitors permission to go a little wild. Which begs the question, what would one do in Steamboat with $300 burning a hole in their pocket?

Late summer and fall visitors could purchase a pair of last year’s skis on sale, blow it all on a big cabernet at dinner, or buy a new outfit at a woman’s boutique.

“People might decide to go out for an elegant dinner they might typically spend $100 on, but say to themselves, ‘I can afford to spend $150,’” Broyles said. “That money goes into the pockets of business owners and their employees and turns over in the economy,” generating additional sales tax revenues.

The subcommittee of the Chamber Marketing Comm­ittee that recommend the promotion researched its potential to perform financially, Broyles said. And because each $25 Chamber Bucks coupon will be printed with a unique number, the committee will be able to track where the money was spent. They’ll even ask merchants to make notes about how the Chamber bucks were spent in their establishments, allowing Broyles’ office to compile a database on the effects of the promotion.

The money that funds the program represents a portion of the $75,000 in unappropriated 2009 city revenues that were turned over to the Chamber earlier this summer, Broyles said.

Some of the money already has been used on TV advertising and e-mail blast campaigns.

The $15,000 dedicated to the program dubbed “Pay for three, shop and dine for free,” would allow the Chamber to reward 50 travel parties who book their trips next week. It would be a bonus if some of those turned out to be first-time visitors to Steamboat, Broyles said.

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