Crowds on Lincoln Avenue check out the Mustangs parked downtown for the event. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and the Steamboat Lodging Association are proposing a new program that would work to attract more group events like the Mustang Roundup to Steamboat.

Matt Stensland/file

Crowds on Lincoln Avenue check out the Mustangs parked downtown for the event. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and the Steamboat Lodging Association are proposing a new program that would work to attract more group events like the Mustang Roundup to Steamboat.

Steamboat Chamber wants to broaden efforts to attract more group events to town

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— Steamboat Springs already has a Mustang Roundup that fills several area hotels and draws hundreds of car enthusiasts to Lincoln Avenue.

So why can't it also host a parade of Porsches like the one held in Traverse City, Mich., or a roundup of Ferraris?

To help attract more events like these to town, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and the Steamboat Springs Lodging Association are pitching to the city a new group sales pilot program that aims to grow the city's stake in the lucrative group sales market.

The program won't just be focused on getting more car groups to town, of course, but Chamber CEO Tom Kern likes to use the gathering of Mustangs as an example of the positive economic impact group events already have on the community.

“The Mustang Rally takes up all the large hotel properties, plus it spills over into the condo market and lodging on U.S. (Highway) 40,” Kern said.

Kern told the Steamboat Springs City Council last week that compared to several other communities on the Western Slope, Steamboat is behind in its efforts to lure more groups with 100-plus participants to town.

Without giving the city away, Kern said he found that another Colorado mountain resort community successfully booked more than 80 large group events last year.

He said the bookings generated about 36,800 room nights and the direct expenditures from the visitors are estimated to have generated about $441,600 in city sales tax.

Here in Steamboat, the city attracts about 12 to 15 large groups in a year during events like the Mustang Roundup, the USA Pro Challenge and Triple Crown.

Kern said the city is behind partly because it lacks a program or an independent organization that can go out and effectively market the city to other larger groups.

Currently, he said the marketing departments at The Steamboat Grand and Sheraton Steamboat Resort — Steamboat's largest lodging properties — can't legally give out quotes for room rates from the competing properties.

To change this, the Chamber is requesting that the city invest $50,000 in a new program that would create marketing materials targeted at getting large groups to Steamboat and have the city represented at five trade shows that are attended by planners of large conventions.

The Chamber also would contract with a large group meeting consultant on the Front Range who would help tap into the market.

“I know there is a large group sales market in the Front Range, and I don't think we're exploiting that opportunity as well as we could,” Kern said.

The City Council was receptive to the idea, but some members questioned the city's proposed share in the cost of the program.

The city is being asked to pitch in $50,000, while the Chamber and the Lodging Association are proposing to invest $7,500 each.

Saying the program has greatest potential to boost lodging revenue, council member Cari Hermacinski questioned why the lodging community wouldn't invest more in the project.

The goal of the program in the first year would be to attract three to five more group events to Steamboat.

The Chamber estimates that if this is realized, it would increase hotel room nights by 2,250 to 3,750, lodging tax revenue by $10,125 to $16,875 and sales tax revenue by $9,000 to $15,000.

“The good thing about this program is that long term, if it's successful, it will fund itself,” Kern said. “The commissions off of bookings would cover the cost of the staff time and the infrastructure.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Comments

Stuart Orzach 6 months, 2 weeks ago

You neglected to mention the Ford Falcon Rally. The Falcon was the prototype of the Mustang. The Mustang is just a Falcon on steroids.

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jerry carlton 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We spend a bunch of tax dollars to fly ski tourists here in the winter so why not 50,000 in tax dollars to bring more tourists in the summer? Makes total sense to me. I will repeat, bring that pack of thieves called judges that were on channel 4 news a week or two ago. Bringing their spouses and themselves on the tax payers money to the Broadmoor for $350 per night with $65 chicken dinners. No information on the bar tab but I bet that was a whopper.

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bill schurman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Welcome to Disney Land. So much for "lifestyle" that John Centner proclaims. How about WEEKLY cattle drives?

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rhys jones 6 months, 2 weeks ago

How did we let the Labor Day Road Race and Councours D'Elegance slip away? THOSE were events!! Classic cars of all types, 'Vettes, Cobras, Ferraris, Formula 1, and the Ford 351 Cleveland was mopping up the Open class. The next weekend the bikers were in town. Now we just get a noisy air show. Whatever happened to the Good Ol' Days?

Jerry -- Don't suppose you saw the Nuggets Sunday night... I don't have NBATV so I went to Carl's, and even then I had to wait until football was over, but it was well worth it. The Lakers didn't play Kobe, and we had Gallo out (the Goose is gimpy, boo hoo); there are some exciting new faces to get used to; the Nugs played 14 guys for at least 11 minutes each (Ty had 27) so they're getting a good look. The Nuggets rolled to a 9-point win, the closest it got during the time I saw, so they're 1-0 in the new (pre)season. Go Nuggies!!

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Martha D Young 6 months, 1 week ago

Hi, Rhys. If memory serves, the city decided to chip and seal Mt. Werner Circle, making the vintage car and motorcycle races dangerous at best. Losing those events was disappointing and frustrating, and could have been avoided. Now with the Grand and the traffic circle I doubt that area will ever serve as a race course again.

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Rob Douglas 6 months, 2 weeks ago

For some folks, there's never enough. They proclaim they moved here for "the way of life," yet they won't be happy until - in their desire to make it more like where they came from or like what some other town is doing - they've destroyed that way of life.

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john bailey 6 months, 2 weeks ago

oh, so you're moving to paradise ? no , same rat race just prettier scenery. hey now, hula is working like a champ, now where is John Fielding? ~;0)

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Scott Wedel 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The lodging industry is claiming 2,250 additional room rentals and is willing to contribute only a few dollars per additional room rental?

The numbers claimed by this proposal show such benefit that, if they are to be believed, that the Sheraton and SB Grand have no reason to ask for city funding. If they truly believed in their numbers and the issue was truly anti-trust concerns then they and the rest of the lodging industry would be offering to finance it entirely. So anyone with critical thinking skills would recognize, based upon the size of the offered contribution, the numbers are a best case hope and the lodging industry expects the actual numbers to be a few hundred additional rooms.

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Mark Ruckman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Who will get the largest benefit from large groups coming to town?

The people trying to fill empty rooms in the summer time. If the city is to give any $ it should be $7500 and the other parties can figure out how to split the $50K delta.

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John Fielding 6 months, 2 weeks ago

To quote the article:

"The Chamber estimates that if this is realized, it would increase hotel room nights by 2,250 to 3,750, lodging tax revenue by $10,125 to $16,875 and sales tax revenue by $9,000 to $15,000."

A couple of observations:

The basis is presumably the 12 to 15 large group events we already attract.

The percentage of increase is about 150%, so that is an additional 18 to 22 events, totaling 30 to 37 events per year. At the greater number that is one event each week for nearly nine months of the year, so some of them would be winter and mud season events. This begins to sound so optimistic as to become questionable. More likely is a scenario of multiple large events on the same weekend. If that is the case the resultant congestion may significantly diminish the quality of the experience for the visitor (never mind the residents, remember we are being paid for the inconvenience).

The sales tax increase quoted does not cover the City contribution to the marketing, even in a best case scenario. Presumably, this would not be a one time only marketing effort, so additional contributions may be requested.

Because the tax is just a small percentage of the economic activity, there would be 10 to 20 times the gross revenue increase to merchants. So roughly that is a few hundred thousand, divided by about 20 events. If I estimate correctly that is only $10 to 15 thousand each. That cannot be correct, so I must have the basis wrong. Is the estimated hotel room night increase of 2,250 a per night average, a per event average, per weekend? Some clarification is needed to appreciate exactly what is being advertised here.

I am not opposed, we should be supportive of efforts to improve our economic position. But the information presented in the article is not complete enough to perform a cost/benefit analysis.

Ok now where is Scott Ford? What am I missing here Scott?

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Stuart Orzach 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I've been pondering this article continually since first reading it early this morning. I cannot shake my discomfort at Mr. Kern's failure to identify the anonymous Western Slope town that allegedly attracts 80 large conventions a year. This hardly seems the way to approach taxpayers for more money. I can't help noting that local politics of late has been characterized by the withholding of information from the people who are ultimately affected. Two well known examples are the failure to publicly name alternative sites being considered for a new police station, and multiple failures to provide public notice to surrounding property owners in the case of several major development proposals.

I'm also wondering what the ultimate goal of this is, or whether there even is one. Are we being asked to pay for marketing to fill hotels and condos so we can justify building more hotels and condos which will require more taxpayer funds to market? That would be a Sysiphean task.

Experience tells me that this is not a one shot deal. Whether it succeeds or fails, I suspect the Chamber will be back before Council next year to justify an even larger contribution. What is the return on our 50.000 investment?

It seems like a zero sum game. There's no evidence that we are doing anything but competing against other towns for a finite, or possibly shrinking pool of fickle conventioneers. There's no intrinsic reason why these conventions should be here. They could go anywhere. At what point does our product begin to lose its luster?

I also need to point out that Triple Crown is not a single weekend convention but a series of long weekends lasting all summer.

I hope that more credible, comprehensive information is forthcoming soon. I sense that taxpayers are losing patience with this approach to tapping their wallets.

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John Fielding 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ok, I think I got it. The increase of 2250 rooms would be per event over what is occupied if no event is happening. Is that it?

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jerry carlton 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The good news is no one has written in praising throwing away 50,000 of taxpayers money, yet.

Rhys Did not see the Nuggets game but saw the outcome on the 10:00 news. Anytime the Lakers lose is good news, no matter who is playing.

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rhys jones 6 months, 2 weeks ago

$50K is a chunk of change. Five shows... oh they'll ram it through... can I be the travel agent? They'll go by Greyhound, stay at Motel 6, and there's my next boat!!

I agree with Rob -- some people can't get enough -- primarily the lodge and restaurant owners, Ski Corp, and few others. Certainly not the help. They get too much already.

We could learn much from Telluride, inhospitable corner of California that it is. They have festivals and gatherings every weekend, to where they get numb; the crowds, the faces, Groundhog Day, every day (sorta like Preview -- won't that kid ever learn?). They even have the Nothing Festival -- nothing's happening, don't ask me.

After two years' residence there, I found that to be the prevalent attitude: Leave me alone. I finally ended up at a bar next to one of the salty locals I'd seen forever, so I asked him -- I'm from Steamboat, where it's not hard to chase up a conversation -- why is that so hard here? Eyes half open, he finally deigned eye contact, saying "Why should I waste my time getting to know you? You're gonna be gone in 8 months anyway." [I didn't make it six.]

That's one thing I love about this town, among all its faults, is how we embrace our visitors.

Do we want to lose that? Be careful what you wish for.

Jerry -- Missed the Nugs tonight. Soon -- every game.

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kris sharp 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Closing Lincoln Ave. (us hwy. 40) is not only an inconvenience, it is downright dangerous for anyone needing emergency services. How long would it take to move first responders through town to get to an emergency east or west of downtown? You can't keep closing down the town.

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John Fielding 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Tried again, and this time I finally understand the math, sorry to be so obtuse. I was not taking the previous paragraph as the reference.

"The goal of the program in the first year would be to attract three to five more group events to Steamboat.

The Chamber estimates that if this is realized, it would increase hotel room nights by 2,250 to 3,750, lodging tax revenue by $10,125 to $16,875 and sales tax revenue by $9,000 to $15,000".

Now it makes sense, the common factor is 750 room nights per event times 3 to 5 events at $4.50 per room tax and $4.00 in sales tax.

Again, my apologies for having misunderstood the statement.

If we are going to spend City funds, the proposals need to be presented so all the assumptions can be examined. What is the persons per room factor? From that we can extrapolate the other spending per person assumption. At first glance it seems we are expecting less than $100 per person in non-lodging spending.

Finally, there was an entity that represented most lodging properties, Central Reservations, able to give quotes and book groups. Are they no longer filling that role? Between them, the Chamber, and the Lodging Association it seems there are plenty of for profit businesses with advertising budgets who have the highest motivation to attract group events. The City government, on the other hand has a sizable contingent to represent who do not want the disruption of traffic blocking roundups and the like to become more pervasive. That is a discussion that should take place before the marketing plan is finalized. Will we offer to close Lincoln Avenue for every event that brings in at least 750 room nights?

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John Fielding 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Build a bypass and we can close Lincoln every weekend!

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jack legrice 6 months, 2 weeks ago

They already get money from the city, now they want 50,000 more. Time to stop the brutal marketing. Why can't we be satisfied with where we are at? It is greed. Welcome to greedboat springs. We are creating a monster we can not feed. Kerm is a marketer aka BS promoter just look at the bull he feed us on the airline program. Bigger is not always better.

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Scott Wedel 6 months, 1 week ago

And on the one hand this city spends money to boost tourism and then on the other hand they complain about the lack of affordable housing for the service workers.

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Pat West 6 months, 1 week ago

Too bad these tourist related attractions/expenses can't be paid for from the $600,000+ accommodations tax.

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