Aspen’s million-dollar marketing plan | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s million-dollar marketing plan

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – If a new 1 percent bed tax is approved by voters this fall, tourism officials say they plan to use the projected annual $1 million partly to pay for more journalists to visit and tell Aspen’s story.

The money would also go toward promoting special events and marketing to all different types of groups.

The Local Market District (LMD) was introduced in front of the Aspen City Council on Monday. After two public hearings to be held in August, the council will likely ask voters who live in an established district to decide whether a 1 percent tax should be tacked onto nightly room rates.

Officials from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) have collected the state-required signatures of commercial property owners located within the proposed local marketing district to put the tax on the Nov. 3 ballot. The signatures represent more than $210 million worth of property within the LMD.

In its operating plan, ACRA officials propose that the district would put more money into the travel budget to host more journalists and television crews in and around Aspen for targeted stories. The district also would focus on increasing participation from the Colorado Tourism Office and other media events in key markets that are aimed toward supporting business development within the district.

The district also would consider developing a local film commission to attract companies interested in filming around Aspen, which would elevate commerce within the district by generating revenue for local businesses and hotels, according to ACRA officials.

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But the primary purposes of the district would be to assist ACRA in coordinating and promoting activities, including increasing print and online advertising within targeted media outlets in the Front Range, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Atlanta.

Money also would be spent on direct mail and e-mail marketing campaigns to past visitors. And the district would participate in the state tourism’s office cooperative advertising and travel trade-show program.

With more money, the district also would tap into media outlets like radio, TV, Comcast and mobile applications that have been out of reach because of a limited budget.

Aspen’s presence would be increased in drive markets through advertising at Colorado welcome centers, AAA and other providers. The district may consider funding billboard, direct mail and Internet campaigns.

The additional tax also would translate into increased marketing budgets aimed at corporate, association, group travel and destination weddings, according to the district’s operating plan.

In order to support those marketing activities, the district may purchase high-end photography of Aspen in all seasons, as well as increase the travel budget for industry events and trade shows. The district could consider the sponsorship of special events, public events, group business initiatives and production crews.

The current 0.5 percent lodging tax is dedicated to summer marketing and raises about $600,000 annually. ACRA received an additional $200,000 by the City Council to augment this summer’s marketing campaign in response to the recession.

But to stay competitive with other resorts that spend millions of dollars more on marketing, Aspen needs an additional tax, ACRA officials say.

By state law, there would be a district board to oversee the funds generated by the LMD. According to its operating plan and budget, the district would spend:

• $513,500 on marketing programs

• $100,000 on public and special events; public relations

• $200,000 on a winter marketing campaign

• $75,000 on group sales initiatives

• $10,000 on miscellaneous

• $50,000 on management, administrative and operating costs

• $8,000 on legal services

• $8,000 on accounting and auditing services

• $500 on insurance

• $5,000 as contingency

• $30,000 in an emergency reserve

csack@aspentimes.com

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