Steamboat Springs The June 10 nonstop flight from Denver to Tokyo on a United Airlines 787 Dreamliner was years in the making. Aboard the inaugural voyage were business leaders and delegates representing various facets of Colorado. Part of that envoy was Rob Perlman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Perlman was along representing Steamboat and the Colorado ski industry. The Steamboat Pilot & Today spoke with him about the inaugural flight and his time in Tokyo. The following answers have been edited for clarity and space.
Q: How was the 11-hour flight?
A: It was actually surprisingly pretty comfortable on the new 787 Dreamliner. Lots of head room, bigger windows, lots of new technology. I watched several movies. It was not that bad.
Q: How did you become involved in the tourism delegation?
A: Prior to working at Steamboat, I was with Colorado Ski Country USA, Visit Denver, was chairman of the Colorado Tourism Office board and was part of a couple different trips and discussions about the potential of a flight from Tokyo. There had been efforts prior to my arrival and after it, but I was a part. They also wanted someone to go along and represent the ski industry.
Q: What were the goals of the tourism delegation?
A: It was to talk about what differentiates Colorado from other destinations in North America. Why should the Japanese tourism industry and tourists be interested in coming to Colorado rather than other destinations that are more known? First one that comes to mind is our ski industry, the whole outdoor industry, the Rocky Mountains and the Western hospitality. We also talked about the value. It’s a great value to come to Colorado and even Steamboat. The size of the accommodations are large and value for dollars spent is great, as well as activities such as skiing and fly-fishing.
Q: Did the inaugural flight date being pushed back affect the experience?
A: It did. The delays definitely impacted the whole itinerary. The trip got scheduled at the same time the International Pow Wow show was going on. A lot of the tourism folks, including tour operators and others, were at the show. There were a few people who weren’t able to attend the inaugural trip who were there, and there were a few people from Japan who were there.
Q: Who did you meet with?
A: We had a press briefing and met with a dozen different journalists and talked about all things Colorado and tourism related. We also had a chance to talk with the Tokyo group organizing their bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. It was interesting for us as Colorado talks about hosting a winter games in future. We had several receptions where we hosted folks from not only tourism but business and folks from some other ski areas. An event at the ambassador's had folks from United Airlines and other industries.
Q: How was meeting with ski areas?
A: It was interesting, and we’re going to investigate the possibility of sister relations with a resort in Japan or two. With Denver and also Los Angeles, it makes it easier to connect to Japan and Tokyo.
Q: How was the response? How much did people know about Colorado?
A: I’d say they were exposed to it, but it was a good opportunity to talk in a little more detail. They’re familiar with the allure of the West — cowboy hats and Western hospitality — but it was a good chance to talk in more detail. They were looking for new and exciting destinations to talk about. I think they were very receptive to something new.
Q: What parts of Steamboat’s heritage did you focus on? What seemed to appeal to them most?
A: I talked about our brand, Champagne Powder snow and our Olympic heritage. That entire country is very much behind their push to lure the Olympics.
Q: Are there plans for a return trip?
A: I think the delegation as well as other officials across the state will try to increase the exposure. Time will tell.
Q: What are your hopes for future tourism from Japan?
A: I think this a big opportunity for us because of the connection through Denver, because of the connection from Denver to Hayden and the other option of going through Los Angeles. And our whole Western brand is very appealing. Other resorts have Western appeal but not the strength of Steamboat. It’s what kind of sets us apart. We’ll continue to participate through the Colorado tourism office in-market representative and continue to provide photos and press materials as well as working with Visit Denver to continue to promote Steamboat.
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4254 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com
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