Marketing campaign misses the point that less is more |

Marketing campaign misses the point that less is more

Aspen’s trying something new this year, and if feels a little low budget. Maybe a little too low budget.

Most recently, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and a number of local lodges have attracted attention for offering a free tank of gasoline ” up to $75 ” for anyone willing to book at least three nights at one of the participating lodges.

The promotion fits in nicely with the ACRA’s summer marketing campaign that is designed to draw visitors from so-called “drive markets.” A drive market is someplace close enough to be within driving distance of Aspen. Think Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and the Front Range.

With the recent spike in gasoline prices, the ACRA and local lodges added a little incentive for those drive-up customers by offering the free tank of gas.

News of the offer has been picked up by the national and state press ” which on the face of it would seem like a coup for Aspen. “Travel with Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel,” a feature posted on, has Aspen at the top of its budget travel listings under the heading “Aspen: It’s a gas.”

But, somehow, neither of these promotions feel quite right.

For the better part of the last 35 years, this community has done everything it can to keep cars out.

We have steadfastly refused to widen or straighten Highway 82 on the simple premise that if we build it (a four-lane road) they (thousands more cars) will come. Parking in town is difficult and expensive to discourage commuters and residents from driving to work or shop. And communities up and down the valley all pay to support the state’s second largest public transit system.

Our basic philosophy when it comes to automobiles has always been less is more.

One of the big things that makes this place so great for locals and visitors alike is the utter lack of need for an automobile. Everything ” the backcountry, the Music Festival, a wide variety of shopping, galleries, balloons and mountain boarding at Snowmass, The Aspen Institute, ACES, great dining, the Wheeler Opera House, movie theaters and outdoor flicks at Aspen Highlands ” is either in walking distance or a short bus ride away from every lodge in town.

Wouldn’t it have been a real coup for Aspen to market itself as the place to go if you want to leave your car behind? Unfortunately, the only “behind” anyone around Aspen will be thinking about this summer is the tail end of the next car in line.

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