Mustangs drive traffic to Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Mustangs drive traffic to Steamboat

Chamber’s barometer predicts nearly 8,000 visitors to Steamboat this weekend

— Steamboat Springs' summer tourism season shifts into second gear this weekend as the Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup makes its perennial appearance.

The lodging barometer published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association anticipates that 7,900 people will be in town Saturday night — enough to occupy 57 percent of the resort's bed base. That figure is down from 8,600 forecast guests on the corresponding Saturday in 2009, and further still from the 9,700 guests who actually arrived here. There's still time for that trend to repeat itself.

Mark Walker, a vice president for Resort Group, parent company of property manager Mountain Resorts, said the classic car fanciers who come to town for the Mustang Roundup are a match for 2010 summer travel trends, as well as his company's properties.

"We have a lot of repeat business from the Mustang Roundup," Walker said. "They like our units that have garages and garden hoses" for washing four-wheeled ponies.

Other events in town this weekend include the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp's annual New Works Festival and the first two rodeos of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series. Steamboat Ski Area opens its gondola for the summer today, and its Free Family Fun Fest is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

To draw visitors, Mountain Resorts is focusing much of its marketing this summer on drive-to markets, keeping step with regional and national forecasts predicting that more and more Americans will drive shorter distances, rather than fly to their summer vacation destinations, Walker said.

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"A lot of our target marketing is aimed at the drive market more aggressively," he said.

Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver are obvious targets, but Mountain Resorts also is reaching out to Colorado Springs.

"It's hotter there than in Denver, and we're playing off the heat campaign," Walker said.

The company typically uses existing e-mail lists to offer prospective Steamboat vacationers an attractive lodging rate with a deadline-to-book attached to it to create a sense of urgency.

Mountain hotels are ahead of the pack in terms of forecast occupancy this weekend with 76 percent of those rooms expected to be full, compared with a forecast of 69 percent for this weekend last year. Mountain hotels already are anticipating that they'll be 78 percent full June 26.

Mountain condominiums are expected to be 43 percent full this weekend, compared with 55 percent last year. Downtown properties, dealing with street construction, are off 15 percent to 59 percent full.

U.S. Highway 40 motels could be more than 80 percent full Saturday night, according to the barometer.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com