Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Mako Shimoda of Longmont closes in on the finish of the Steamboat Marathon as friends, family and fans of all the runners celebrate on the sidewalk. Downtown businesses hope the Lincoln Avenue sidewalks stay full throughout the summer. Officials say the appetite for close-in vacations could lead to increased visitorship from Front Range residents like Shimoda, and local marketing efforts are being geared toward them.
Steamboat Springs Local businesses could get a boost from vacationers traveling shorter distances this summer, potentially giving Steamboat Springs increased traffic from within Colorado.
The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Mainstreet Steamboat Springs each have stressed the importance of Front Range consumers as Steamboat swings into a tourism season sparked by a big Memorial Day weekend and Monday’s start of Triple Crown Sports events. The first Mainstreet Farmers Market of the season and the Cayuse Classic at Sidney Peak Ranch are coming up Saturday.
The Chamber’s summer lodging barometer is forecasting 6,200 visitors in Steamboat this weekend, compared to about 4,000 visitors who came to Steamboat on the same weekend last year. Marketing director Lynna Broyles told Steamboat Springs City Council earlier this month that the Chamber’s summer marketing plan has a heavy emphasis within the state.
“The Colorado drive market is our No. 1 market,” Broyles said.
The Chamber’s marketing plan again includes heavy attention to Front Range media outlets in print, on television and on the Web. The Chamber’s online advertising includes an increased social media effort and Colorado-focused ads on sites including www.TripAdvisor.com, www.Colorado.com, www.denverpost.com and more.
On Monday, Tracy Barnett, of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, also emphasized the importance of the Front Range, saying a recession-related trend of shorter travel distances could bring more traffic to the mountains. That trend could have been seen during Memorial Day weekend, which brought more than 8,000 people to Steamboat, according to Chamber figures, compared to about 3,000 during the holiday weekend in 2009.
Whatever the cause, Barnett said, downtown businesses are in dire need of a busy summer.
“They need it to be strong, especially if we’re going back to construction in the fall,” Barnett said, referring to the downtown paving project that stops June 30 and resumes Sept. 7. “I think people need a bit of a break, not only financially but emotionally.”
Chamber media and public relations manager Molly Killien recently visited numerous Colorado television stations, newspapers and magazines to bring attention to Steamboat’s summer events.
“Media outlets on the Front Range are so drawn to that Western culture — they’re drawn to the rodeo, to the Fourth of July events,” Killien said. “Steamboat is a very special place in Colorado, and it’s not just locals who think that.”
Killien added that many people she spoke with said “we’re just far enough away that it feels like a vacation.”
That’s just the feeling that local officials hope could bring some much-needed revenue to Steamboat in coming weeks.
“I think we might have a pretty good shot at having a halfway decent summer,” Barnett said. “It really does feel like it.”