Glenwood gets aggressive on marketing tourism | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood gets aggressive on marketing tourism

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Colorado moved up to the No.-5 slot in the most recent "America's Dream Destinations" survey, and Glenwood Springs appears to be riding that wave, the city's lead tourism promoter reports.

And, now that the new Grand Avenue Bridge is open, 2018 could be even bigger and better on the tourism front, predicts Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Langer gave her year-end report to City Council on Thursday. The city contracts with the chamber to handle the city's promotional efforts using proceeds from Glenwood's special 2.5 percent accommodations tax.

Although tax receipts to support advertising and other promotions fell off during the three-month bridge detour, the lodging tax was running about 4.25 percent ahead of 2016 through August when the detour began, Langer said.

Occupancy rates for Glenwood Springs hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts that report to the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association also have been running a little over 64 percent on average, just slightly behind last year, according to the most recent report.

The average daily room rate this year has been just above last year's average rate, at $133.34 per night, according to the November report.

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This year, Glenwood Springs received a considerable amount of exposure with some unique Front Range and Salt Lake City marketing, Langer said. In both places, rail commuters and those along the rail lines were exposed to so-called "rolling billboards," with Glenwood's iconic hot springs messaging on the sides as well as inside of passenger cars.

"We continue to focus on our multi-pronged approach to improving Glenwood Springs awareness and visitation," Langer said. The city Tourism Promotion Board also has increased its advertising budget by 5 percent for 2018.

Marketing efforts this year also included targeted emails and social media direction people to VisitGlenwood.com.

Traditional marketing has included print advertising, TV and radio, as well as a physical presence at several Front Range events such as the Great American Brewfest and the Mile High Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. Among the collaborative efforts through the Colorado Tourism Office has been Glenwood Springs' inclusion along the 720-mile Historic Hot Springs Loop.

On a broader scale, Langer is a regular at trade shows throughout the United States, and Glenwood Springs is hosting a familiarization tour for travel writers from Mexico and India in January and February.

Tourism in Colorado attracts 82.4 million visitors per year, according to 2016 figures from a Dean Runyon Associates study. That, in turn, generates an estimated $19.7 billion in spending, bringing in $1.2 billion in state and local taxes.

"Approximately half of all travel-generated tax receipts accrue to local governments … including room taxes, sales taxes and auto rental taxes levied by cities, counties and special districts," Langer said.

Since the height of the recession in 2009, Colorado also has posted a 37 percent increase in visitation, which is more than twice the 17 percent growth rate for United States travel.

And, in 2017, tourism was expected to generate more Colorado jobs than any other industry, Langer said.

Locally, according to the same Dean Runyon study, tourism created 1,800 jobs in Garfield County in 2016, and brought in $7.8 million in taxes.