Chamber releases summer tourism analysis for Steamboat, plans lean budget for year ahead | SteamboatToday.com

Chamber releases summer tourism analysis for Steamboat, plans lean budget for year ahead

Mike Lawrence

Dave Singer, of Lone Tree, and Denise Baumbach, of California, share a kiss Aug. 1 during the Wine Festival at Steamboat. The event, along with the Triple Crown World Series, was the most-visited weekend in summer 2009 with lodging capacity at 79 percent.

— The Wine Festival at Steamboat, combined with the Triple Crown World Series, was once again the top weekend draw for visitors to Steamboat Springs this summer.

In an annual review of events, marketing results and Web traffic given to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, Lynna Broyles, of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said the weekend of Aug. 1 garnered the highest percentage of full lodging units this summer, at 79 percent. The Wine Festival and Triple Crown weekend also was tops in 2008, when the events combined with the Wild West Relay on the weekend of Aug. 2 and filled 94 percent of Steamboat’s lodging.

The Wild West Relay fell a week later this year, to use the full moon as teams of runners – and one individual, ultramarathoner Will Laughlin – made their way 200 miles from Fort Collins to Steamboat.

The second-biggest weekend draws this summer were theFourth of July weekend, which paired with Triple Crown athletic events, and the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament on the weekend of July 18. Each weekend filled 78 percent of local lodging, according to Chamber figures. In 2008, the Chamber’s No. 2 weekend was that of July 19, when the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament netted 85 percent capacity.

The third-highest weekend for the past two summers has been the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park, a combination known as Rainbow Weekend.

Broyles, the Chamber’s director of marketing, said that while down, summer 2009 numbers show that vacationers facing tough decisions – and valuing their dollars – still chose to visit the Yampa Valley this summer.

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“I am very pleased. I think what that information basically displays is that people are motivated to travel for events – you had to give people reason to choose to spend their money this summer,” Broyles said. “By the time you get to the third-highest weekend of the summer, then the percentages actually start to level out.”

Broyles said new events this summer and fall, such as the All Arts Festival and

OktoberWest, respectively, are here to stay. But funding levels might not be. The City Council and city staff members are working through the city’s 2010 budget, and Broyles said cuts could affect Chamber staff.

“We’ve been asked by the city to try and maintain the same level of spending as we have in the past – they’re actually asking us to cut more from the overhead and expenses side of things,” she said. “We’re looking at ways to cut office expenses. : We’re talking about furlough days.”

The Chamber listed $331,869 in 2009 marketing expenses. How that money is allocated could change in 2010.

“We will probably not pursue our outdoor advertising on the Front Range,” Broyles said.

A billboard maintained on Interstate 70 in the Denver area for the past several years has been “a very expensive piece for us,” she said. In 2009 it cost the Chamber $32,000 to rent the billboard for four months. Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. picked up the tab for the other eight months.

“We’ll move those dollars back into research,” Broyles said, citing the Chamber’s intercept survey of visitors leaving the valley after a vacation. The Chamber has conducted the survey every other year since the early ’90s, Broyles said, with one gap earlier this decade.

The Chamber does not plan to cut funding for Web marketing efforts.

“The direction from the (Chamber’s) marketing committee : is to make sure that we maintain, if not increase, the amount of money we spend in online initiatives,” she said.

Tracy Barnett, of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, said this year’s new events are cost-effective ways to bring new visitors to the valley and to give repeat visitors something new.

“A lot of the events we’ve had have been around for 20, 25 years, and we needed something fresh,” she said. “I think the All Arts Festival is going to be something fabulous as it grows.”

Barnett said ideas, help and buy-in from local business owners will be crucial as marketing efforts move forward in lean economic times.

“It’ll take commitment on parts of the businesses to help make those things happen,” she said. “There has to be commitment and passion on the parts of those businesses that will benefit the most.”

Most-visited summer 2009 weekends

Event, date, lodging capacity

1. Wine Fest, Triple Crown World Series, Aug. 1, 79 percent

2. Fourth of July, Triple Crown, July 4, 78 percent

2. Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament, July 18, 78 percent

4. Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, July 11, 75 percent

4. Wild West Relay, Triple Crown, Aug. 8, 75 percent

6. Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup, June 20, 70 percent

Source: Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association

Who’s looking at the Chamber online

Top 10 locations that visited the Chamber Web site, http://www.steamboatcham…, from April to September 2009:

1. Denver, 20,893 visits

2. Steamboat Springs, 12,060 visits

3. Aurora, 8,408 visits

4. Colorado Springs, 2,951 visits

5. Fort Collins, 2,804 visits

6. Littleton, 2,258 visits

7. Boulder, 1,983 visits

8. New York City, 1,702 visits

9. Westminster, 1,024 visits

10. Houston, 957 visits

Source: Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association

Halloween Stroll

Tracy Barnett, of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, said she has been receiving phone calls about Saturday’s Halloween Stroll and possible impacts of downtown construction. Barnett said the annual stroll is happening as usual and is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday on Lincoln Avenue. Barnett said she is talking with Scott Contracting – which is doing the U.S. Highway 40 project for the Colorado Department of Transportation – about having crews on hand during the stroll to guide pedestrians around heavy construction areas. People are asked to respect construction zones and boundaries during the stroll.