Aspen chamber: it’s all about the pitch |

Aspen chamber: it’s all about the pitch

Carolyn SackariasonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Local tourism officials recently made a trek to New York City hoping to get Aspen on the cover of a magazine.Aspen Chamber Resort Association officials went to the Big Apple last week to pitch magazine editors and other members of the press on what they would consider dream coverage feature stories on Aspen splashed on the covers of high-profile publications like Travel & Leisure and Elite Traveler.If their efforts pay off it could mean millions of dollars in ad equivalency for next year. Ad equivalency is a calculated formula that uses the cost of advertising in a particular publication or broadcast, and then equates the value to the consumer, said Lisa Johnson, ACRAs vice president of sales and marketing. In other words, the cost of a full-page ad times three would be the equivalent to a feature story on Aspen.With higher demographics, people who are educated and have a high net worth, PR has a bigger impact than ads do, Johnson said last week while in New York. The articles are more credible than ads.Aspen in 2007 experienced the equivalency of nearly $9 million in ads, which was mostly the result of high-profile television shows broadcasting live from here Good Morning America, The Today Show and CBS Early Morning. Top Chef also wrapped up its third season with a two-part finale in Aspen a couple of months ago.ACRA officials recognize that all three morning shows probably wont be back next year, which raises the bar on what kind of coverage Aspen gets and where its in print.We anticipate that we wont get that perfect trifecta again, Johnson said. ACRAs marketing strategy has been to increase its public relations budget in recent years. With only $625,000 earmarked for marketing for 2008, ACRA officials try to get as much bang for the buck as they can.We always look at what we can accomplish with the limited amount of money we have, Johnson said. The ACRA board tentatively approved the marketing plan on Oct. 30. ACRA officials are scheduled to present the budget to the City Council on Nov. 19. Advertising and print gets the biggest chunk out of the budget $250,000. Much of that will focus on regional publications like Denvers 5280 magazine, which targets the driving visitor in the summer. There also will be ads in in-flight magazines on United and Delta airlines, where theres a captive, audience, Johnson said.Public relations will get $150,000; Web and technology has $40,000, and group sales have $50,000 in the 2008 budget. Administration is expected to cost $110,000 for 2008.There is a challenge with a limited amount of money and this is a drop in the bucket, said ACRA board member Warren Klug, general manager of Aspen Square. I think we are making the most of our dollars.ACRAs marketing plan derives its funding from the half-cent lodging tax voters passed in 2000, which it shares with the Regional Transit Authority. Over the past five years, ACRA has moved from working exclusively with an outside advertising agency to implement its marketing plan to working in-house with staff-driven programming in conjunction with agencies and contractors.ACRA officials hope to generate at least $8 million in public relations equivalency, with a combination of print, broadcast and online media. Another objective is that all articles have at least one of Aspens key messages. (see below). ACRA also aims to highlight Aspens green messaging in three articles, as well as three feature articles on Aspens spring, summer and fall.PR objectives also include garnering at least one feature and five roundup stories that promote Aspen as a desirable and unique meetings destination; one feature article about the adventurous side of Aspen; and getting coverage from at least two national television programs. With those objectives in mind, ACRA officials note national emerging trends: travelers with disabilities; the gay/lesbian/bisexual market; girlfriend getaways; destination weddings, procreation vacations and babymoons; culinary travel; voluntourism; medical and enhancement travel and pet travel.Aspen Chamber Resort Association 2008 marketing plan goals and key messages:Key messages Aspen is the top summer mountain destination in North America. Aspen offers abundant adventure, for both extreme athletes and soft adventurers. Aspen offers the ultimate family vacation, offering adventure and culture for all ages. Aspen is the intellectual and cultural capital of the Rocky Mountains. Aspen is a shopping haven, with more than 300 shops in the downtown core. Aspen is the ultimate epicurean escape, a dining destination rivaling big cities. Aspen features the top-rated mountain-town nightlife in the country. Aspen has Snowmass Village, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk in close driving proximity with events and dining opportunities to enhance the Aspen visit. Aspen in the summer is a music lovers playground, with the Aspen Music Festival and School, Jazz Aspen Snowmass and outdoor concerts. Aspen is the place for summer mountain events, including the Aspen Ideas Festival, Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, July Fourth, Aspen Summer Words and more. Aspen offers unique learning vacations, including art, cuisine, adventure and music. Aspens diversity of lodging, combined with its historic character, prestige, unique amenities and venues, make Aspen an ideal destination for groups of all sizes and needs. Aspens pulse beats year round, making Aspen the logical and economical choice for groups that are looking to visit mountain resorts in the shoulder seasons.PR tactics Working with individual journalists pitching specific story ideas that support ACRAs key messages in key markets. Pitch average of 10 journalists a week on Aspen stories. Press releases: Create targeted, timed releases to take advantage of trends; coincide with events and season changes: May is the new June ski, kayak, bike, golf. Summer 2008 in Aspen: Whats new, whats happening, whats hot. Aspen offers the ultimate cycling adventure. Aspen offers enticing 2008 summer and fall lodging packages. Learning vacations: Aspen offers unique educational escapes. Babymoons before or after a new baby arrives into the family. Tween Travel children 10 to 13 years old and activities geared toward their interests.PR strategies Create a target list of dream coverage and pitch the target high-profile media outlets to reach a diverse audience of potential Aspen visitors. Develop updated video footage for both targeted broadcast pitching and social media. Focus on developing PR for the need seasons May, early June; fall, non-weekend travel. Showcase new businesses, structures and services in Aspen on a frequent basis. Incorporate new images, video and technology into a media plan. Promote Aspen as the premier cultural destination rivaling big cities in its prestige. Create a new program with a major brand that would promote weekend soft and hard adventure travel to Aspen. Cross-market Aspen spring, summer and fall to media that visit in the winter.

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