Survey: A third of non-winter guests stop at visitor centers
About a third of Aspen’s “non-winter” visitors stop in at one of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s visitor centers, according to the latest survey of tourists who swing through town in the spring, summer and fall.However, those who do stop by one of the centers praise the experience – and the convenience of the center locations.The survey results were delivered just this week to the ACRA by Leisure Trends Group, a Boulder-based research company. The results have yet to be tabulated into a report that will be released by the chamber, but much of the data appears to mirror the results of a similar survey conducted in 2000.Four years ago, too, for example, about a third of non-winter guests found their way into one of the ACRA’s visitor centers.This year’s survey questionnaire was a collaboration between the chamber and the city. It was designed to glean travel trends and demographic data that the ACRA can use in its marketing efforts, as well as information the city was seeking on the guest experience downtown and tourist awareness of its recreational facilities, according to Lisa Weiss, director of marketing and sponsorship development for the ACRA.”This was kind of a cumulative, what everyone wants to know about the guest who comes here in the non-winter,” she said.Incidental to the survey, a proposal to construct a new Main Street visitor center surfaced this year. The ACRA contends the more visible site on the main thoroughfare could pull in more people who might then decide to spend a few nights in Aspen.The non-winter guest is a different demographic from the winter visitor, who typically flies into Aspen, having booked a ski vacation, according to Weiss.”It’s a drive crowd [in the summer]. It’s not a given that Aspen is their destination,” she said.People drive over Independence Pass and come through town, but Aspen isn’t necessarily their intended stop for the night. The survey results indicated close to 40 percent of Aspen visitors also intended to visit another Colorado resort last summer.If people find a visitor center, they’re likely to obtain information about all there is to do here and may make a spontaneous decision to stay, the ACRA contends.Visitors are also likely to ask about motel accommodations, inquiring about a Comfort Inn or some other chain with which they’re familiar, Weiss added. They need to be quickly informed that there are comparable local lodging options, though there is no Comfort Inn or Motel 6, she said.The latest survey results, however, indicate some dissatisfaction with the range of prices available for lodging in Aspen, according to the Leisure Trends analysis. The variety of retail and nightlife opportunities received average ratings, and only 40 percent of those surveyed were aware of the programs and facilities offered by the Aspen Parks and Recreation Department.Regarding the ACRA’s visitor centers, those who used them gave them high marks for friendly service, providing useful information and a knowledgeable staff. The convenience of location received a score of 8.5 on a scale of one to 10, but the survey didn’t break out use of the visitor center at the Wheeler Opera House, the ACRA’s summer kiosk on the mall or the main center on Rio Grande Place. The latter, considered the most unlikely spot for a wandering tourist to stumble upon, would be replaced by the proposed new Main Street center. The new facility is the subject of Referendum 2A on the Nov. 2 ballot.The Leisure Trends survey was distributed to 1,035 visitors – including previous summer visitors who received the questionnaire, individuals staying at local lodges, and visitors who were approached on the street last summer and agreed to fill out a questionnaire.In general, the non-winter visitor tends to be older, married, educated and affluent, according to the Leisure Trends summary. The survey respondents were typically traveling without their children and spent three to five nights here. Aspen scored well, compared to other vacation destinations, on the quality of its outdoor activities, its uniqueness as a destination and the quality of its special events, according to the survey results.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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