Snowmass Tourism has new business plan

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Snowmass Tourism has a new business plan, which at 42 pages in length is the most rigorous it has had in its 10-year history.

The Snowmass Village Marketing, Special Events & Group Sales Board has been working on the document since the spring. The members voted Thursday to accept it conceptually while ironing out some details about how it will be executed before presenting it to the Town Council as part of the annual budget process this fall.

The board members have been emailing and discussing revisions to the plan since the first draft was presented at their June 6 meeting. Yan Baczkowski, who started as Snowmass Tourism director on July 15, also lent some input to the document, which he described to the board Thursday.

Baczkowski said he didn’t think “putting all our eggs in one basket, which is essentially group sales,” was the best practice. The main addition he suggested was to focus some resources on tour operators that target historical and cultural programs as well as “soft” adventure tourists.

Board member Hugh Templeman, general manager of the Viceroy Snowmass, said he was concerned about the performance of that kind of investment as well as the difficulty of closing a deal that would involve multiple players. Baczkowski replied that he thought part of the role of the department was to play “matchmaker.”

The board agreed to keep that goal in the plan, and Templeman expressed that his concern was in “how we execute” it.

Templeman also asked how the board would hold the department accountable for following the plan.

“There has to be an execution and accountability process to it,” he said. “Otherwise all of this great work … will be for naught.”

John Borthwick, the board member who primarily worked on developing the plan, said maybe that process could be clarified some more.

“We need to get clear about the process for driving the metrics and keeping it up to date,” Borthwick said. “There are execution variables that are still kind of unknown here.”

Board member Steve Santomo, of Destination Resorts Snowmass, suggested several revisions, including adding the perception of remoteness of Snowmass as a threat and getting the office’s new website translated into other languages.

Scott Calliham, owner of Base Camp Bar & Grill and Slice, moved to accept the plan conceptually in its current form, with the changes discussed.

The primary goals of the new plan are to increase transparency and to measure the impact of Snowmass Tourism’s actions. Snowmass Tourism is budgeted to spend more than $5 million on marketing and group-sales efforts this year, according to town documents. The marketing and special-events functions of Snowmass Tourism are supported by a 2.5 percent sales tax in Snowmass Village. Group sales are funded by a lodging tax.

The advisory board, which consists of nine members representing various industry sectors, provides direction and feedback to the department.

David Perry, Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president of mountain operations, announced at the end of the meeting that he was stepping down from the board. Christian Knapp, Skico vice president of marketing, will be taking his place. The Town Council has to approve Knapp’s appointment for it to take effect.