A merger of marketing might for Aspen, S’mass | AspenTimes.com

A merger of marketing might for Aspen, S’mass

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The largest marketing organizations in the Aspen area are putting their heads together to share ideas on attracting visitors.

The newly formed Aspen/Snowmass Marketing Forum is made up of the Aspen Skiing Co., the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, the town of Snowmass Village and Stay Aspen Snowmass.

The group, which has met twice, has agreed to work together to “coordinate marketing strategies and combine efforts in order to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and reach of the areas’ collective marketing efforts,” according to a release from the marketing forum.

“This is a very important step – it’s a willing collaboration between partners, with equals sitting around the table,” said Skico senior vice president David Perry. “Together we’ll form a wide marketing plan to keep things from falling through the cracks.”

Perry said the entities could pool resources “when they see opportunities,” but otherwise the marketing forum plans on meeting quarterly, and has no formal structure, chairperson or budget. Each organization in the forum will keep its own annual marketing strategy and unique campaigns.

But the combined marketing budgets of all the groups is in the millions of dollars, said Hana Pevny, ACRA president, which could lead to widespread, effective campaigns.

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While ACRA may only have around $400,000 annually from Aspen’s lodging tax, Pevny pointed out that the overall local marketing budget would include $300,000 from Stay Aspen Snowmass, $2.5 million from the town of Snowmass Village and “bazillions” from the Skico, she said jokingly.

At a Tuesday work session with the City Council, Pevny said each organization already coordinates logos as part of the Aspen branding concept, which may allow consumers to instantly recognize the close relationship between all of the organizations.

She presented the results, to date, for the 2003 marketing strategy to the council yesterday, as well as the proposal for how ACRA will handle a marketing campaign in 2004. Since ACRA considers many of the 2003 efforts successful, Pevny said a number of strategies will remain the same.

For example, ACRA officials have seen a dramatic increase in the number of visitors to the aspenchamber.org Web site since they have been using the Internet address as a call to action for consumers. And they will continue to send people to the Web site in the future.

The chamber has also seen strong results from its public relations campaign, Pevny said. ACRA expected a $500,000 return on its investment and instead received an estimated $2.5 million in media coverage, she said.

Marketing to potential visitors on the Front Range – a coordinated effort with Snowmass Village – was also successful this year. Pevny said the vast majority of this summer’s business has been in-state visitors.

Although specifics of the 2004 marketing plan are not yet nailed down, Pevny said the new marketing forum will help ACRA work collaboratively, and help the other entities promote the Aspen brand. ACRA is also considering asking the city to help finance a partnership with The Aspen Institute to bring special events to town.

The City Council said it supported ACRA’s assessment of the current and future marketing plans, as did business owners at the work session.

“We’re on the front lines of this, and we know business is changing so we need to be out there generating awareness,” said Warren Klug of Aspen Square Condominiums. “Good marketing efforts are so essential – we’re the ones ultimately taking the calls.

“I think the chamber has done well, and I urge them to hold the course, to keep doing what they’re doing because it’s producing results, and that’s exciting stuff.”

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]