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 Springs Chamber Resort Association begins efforts to attract more group conferences to town

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— Hoping to score new business from groups such as the Rocky Mountain Corvette Club and others that travel in large packs, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is working to get a new group sales program up and running by April.

“The potential payoff for the community if this program is successful is pretty significant,” Chamber CEO Tom Kern said Tuesday.

Last week, a majority of the Steamboat Springs City Council signed off on the city spending $21,000 to help get the program up and running.

The Chamber and the Lodging Association also will contribute $21,000 each.

Kern said meetings with lodging partners already are underway, and the program will entail developing a website, attending new trade shows and hiring an employee, likely from the Front Range, who could help get more groups to come up to Steamboat.

Kern said that on their own, the city, the lodging properties and the Chamber could not afford to create an effective program like this.

He said it’s hard for properties such as The Steamboat Grand and the Sheraton Steamboat Resort to work collaboratively together to try and attract groups big enough to use more than one hotel.

Currently, one of the largest groups that comes to Steamboat travels here for the Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup.

Kern pointed to the upcoming 2014 World Summit of the International Mountain Biking Association in Steamboat as an example of the type of new businesses the group sales program could help to attract.

The last IMBA World Summit in Santa Fe, N.M., was attended by more than 400 participants.

“If each conference attendee spends $500 with hotel food and the like, that's a $2 million to $2.5 million conference coming here. Those are the things we'd like to do more of,” Kern said.

He told the council that the program likely will generate enough revenue to fund itself in as soon as three years.

The goal of the program is to secure three to five additional group conferences or events during the first year.

The group sales project mostly earned praise when it was presented to the council Tuesday night.

Council member Scott Ford was the only one to oppose the request for the city to help fund it.

He said it was a good idea, but he questioned whether city funds should be used to help support a business venture.

“If this is a good idea, this should work without us,” Ford said. “Our job is essentially to do the best we possibly can with the sales tax dollars that are given to us, not to chase new sales tax dollars, necessarily.”

Council member Walter Magill said he viewed the expenditure as a sort of offseason summer marketing purchase.

“I'd agree it's not essential services certainly to market for the Sheraton and the Grand, but I think it does drive the new visitor experience up here,” he said.

The approval also spurred a short conversation among some council members about the level of funding the city is supplying to the Chamber each year.

“I feel good about the direction of the Chamber, but I also think we give the Chamber a lot of money, and what I see is it is just creeping up in increments,” council member Sonja Macys said. “What I would like to see this council consider at some point is how much are we really putting into the Chamber? ... I want us to take a hard look at that at some point in time.”

She added that she wants to ensure the city is getting its return on investment for all of its funding.

The council has approved more than $700,000 in funding for the Chamber for 2014, with the lion's share going toward summer marketing.

The total includes $600,000 for summer marketing, $100,000 for special events development, $15,000 for trade show marketing, $21,000 for the new large group sales project and $50,000 for an economic development contract.

“I'm happy to sit down with (the council) and we can show them all of the contracts have a return on investment to them. Many of them have a big return,” Kern said.

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

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Comments

scott bideau 3 months ago

For all the taxpayer money given to the Chamber, I would like to see better management of their events. The hot air balloon several years ago was nearly rained out. On media day, we had the majority of balloon pilots unwilling to setup in the damp lawn, with absolutely no contingency plan by event organizers (all that was needed is a bunch of tarps). That next year the event was cancelled last minute due to a failure to obtain proper permits and special exceptions for fire hazards. The county cancelled the event but the Chamber was completely caught of guard, yet again (whereas they should have had a backup launch location within city limits).

These are only a few examples of many I have witnessed.

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scott bideau 3 months ago

To clarify, these concerns run over the long term with the Chamber events, not just recently. I suggest the city track these issues if it's going to provide funding to market their events.

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bill schurman 3 months ago

The Chamber has the public be damned attitude. What is alleged to be this lazy little Western town in their advertizing is in reality the making of an over run tourist town, like Estes Park as an example. It is an affront to the folks who came here for the lazy little town ambiance instead of "Disney Land" by the Yampa. And, to think that this City Council hands over MORE THAN $ 700,000 to the Chamber just to ruin this little Western cowboy town. Welfare for the Chamber.

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jerry carlton 3 months ago

400 times 500 = 200,000. Not 2,000,000. Would the chamber like to hire me as a math consultant? I will work to $100.00 per hour plus expenses. A chance to get some of my wasted tax dollars back.

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john bailey 3 months ago

my sentiments exactly ,Bill , but Scott says do what the tourist want . cow-paddies i'll stick to the county , thank you very much, hands off now....~;0)

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Scott Wedel 3 months ago

Jerry,

The Chamber would probably accept your offer to work for $100 per hour and then pay you $1.00 per hour since they don't seem to understand the effect of the decimal point.

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