Offseasons haven’t gone away in Snowmass Village
Tourism department aims to align with comprehensive plan, town goals
Over in Aspen, locals want their offseasons back. That was one of the takeaways from a seven-months-in-the-making destination management plan that involved extensive community outreach. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which released the plan in mid-March, now plans to ease up on tourism marketing in the shoulder seasons, according to the plan.
But in Snowmass Village, the offseason hasn’t really gone away, Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello said in two interviews.
“Our town likes to be quiet, and that’s where we are right now,” she said.
Need proof? Just try grabbing lunch, Abello joked. (There are a few options open right now, but even some of those are operating on limited offseason hours.)
That’s intentional, Abello said.
“We respect our offseasons, and we don’t market our offseasons, because that’s in our Comprehensive Plan,” she said.
The town’s Comprehensive Plan from 2018 identifies opportunities to boost visitation in the summer and shoulder seasons, but also notes that “some in the community feel strongly that ‘shoulder season’ should remain just that and extending the summer and winter seasons is not a preferred option.”
Snowmass Tourism aligns with that plan by municipal design. Unlike ACRA, which is under contract with the city of Aspen to provide destination management services, Snowmass Tourism is actually a department within the town of Snowmass Village, with offices located in Town Hall.
The team gets “tons of input” from elected officials and town staff on how to approach destination management, Abello said
“When you look at all of the plans that Town Council adopts, right — whether it’s the (Community) Connectivity Plan, or the (Parks, Open Space, Trails and Recreation) Plan, or the Comprehensive Plan — being part of town, we have to file in under those goals, right?” Abello said.
“So if we decided tomorrow that, ‘Hey, we should start marketing between April and Memorial Day,’ our bosses would be like, ‘Hey, that’s not what our town wants. That’s not our goal,’” she added.
What has been the goal for Snowmass Tourism is balancing out summer occupancy charts that used to look like an EKG chart, with tall spikes when hotels are near capacity during busy weekends and deep “troughs” on some weeknights with very low occupancy.
Those troughs are filling in, Abello said. Business owners can see that translate to stabilization over the course of the season; without so many peaks and valleys to adapt to, staffing and product ordering can be a bit more consistent.
But at the same time, Abello recognizes the challenges that businesses are facing, too. Staffing shortages are still a pinch point, and she acknowledged that pandemic stressors have added more weight on employees.
“Anecdotally, I ran into a restaurant owner last week, and he said business was off the charts this year,” Abello said. “It was better than ever, he said, but the toll on the employees was harder than ever.”
Destination management and tourism marketing looks different at communities throughout the valley, which each have their goals and structures. But there’s also “some great common ground in the message of ‘recreate responsibly,’” Snowmass’ Rose Abello said, and in promoting consistent messaging overall.
“I think we’re going to try to do some initiatives to get that message out up and down the valley in a consistent way, whether … that message is coming from Snowmass Tourism, or it’s coming from ACRA, or it’s coming from Glenwood,” Abello said. “It’ll be a consistent message up and down the valley about what it means to recreate responsibly.”
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A group of relay participants will walk from downtown Aspen to Buttermilk Ski Area on Tuesday evening to complete one leg of a month-long, 3,900-mile journey across nearly 10 states for a “Carry the Load” event honoring fallen military personnel and first responders.