| AspenTimes.com

Measuring up: Driving the travel economy by changing how – and what – we measure

Bookings in the end of March were up 1580% versus 2020, and up 58.5% versus pre-pandemic 2019.
Source: Inntopia Business Intelligence

Traditional tourism metrics may not help in 2021

Eliza Voss, vice president of destination marketing with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, said that 2020’s unusual numbers will require some different metrics to predict this season’s tourist traffic.

“ACRA’s Destination Marketing and Snowmass Tourism’s efforts are partially funded by the lodging tax, so we have always looked at occupancy and average daily rate metrics,” she said. “Historically we have viewed these metrics as year over year measurements. Of course, this year, we need to look back 3 years to get a sense of where we are as compared to a pre-pandemic world.”

Voss said the booking window for many travelers is now much closer to their arrival date, so the ACRA will also see how continued flexible cancellation policies influence future booking patterns.

Additionally, factors such as the vaccination rates in top feeder markets or even the availability of flights from traditional tourist hometowns need to be looked at more closely, she explained. But those numbers don’t tell the entire story, she admitted.   

“Something a little outside of the ‘metrics and data’ box is measuring local sentiment, and the change in makeup of our communities with new residents, or part time residents spending more time here,” she said. “ACRA will dive into a destination management planning process in the summer of 2021, which will involve gaining insights into local sentiment so we can plan for what tourism should look like in our community for many years to come.”

A destination management plan is also critical to the community’s success as a sustainable destination, with flexibility being absolutely important to adapt to any future changes, she said.      

Snowmass looks to visitors who drive, versus fly

Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism, said that a report outlining the origins and destinations of Aspen Airport travelers has traditionally been an important planning tool.

“This information helps us to geographically target the audiences we go after,” she said. “For example, our Phoenix flight not only serves the greater Phoenix population but also serves as a very important connection to key southern California cities.”

But Abello said last year’s drop in air traffic has prompted more marketing directed at car travel.  

“In 2020, as we watched the numbers of passengers going through TSA plummet, we expanded our ‘drive’ marketing efforts to include destinations within a 12-hour drive, especially targeting mountain bike enthusiasts with our IMBA Gold messaging,” she said. “Summer has always been a more important ‘drive market’ for us than winter and we will continue to assess that balance of spend between fly and drive markets as we see how 2021 evolves.”

Listen to the accompanying podcast from the Insights Collective here.


Destination travel providers have long since adopted reliable, actionable metrics to gauge the success or failure of their efforts to create thriving travel economies. And whether it’s the relatively isolated nature of their economies, the seasonality of revenue streams or the significant infrastructure requirements of snow sports, mountain travel partners and suppliers are proactive with a wide range of data.

But suppliers and their overall communities have both a need and opportunity to change how and what they measure to drive the evolution of the industry.

“How” you measure – recovery vs trajectory

Typically, suppliers and governments measure quantitative performance such as taxes, visitation and resource use in terms of year-over-year (YOY) comparisons. Measuring during similar periods helps ensure that conditions such as weather, economic cycles and holidays are similar in both periods, allowing them to identify what is and isn’t working on the operational or promotional side.

The resulting data provide a measure of annual growth or decline, which becomes actionable. But when you encounter disruption in one of the data sets (say, a pandemic, to use an unlikely and extreme example), interested parties need to adjust to ensure they’re seeing performance in the right context.

For example, if we measure lodging bookings at mountain resorts in the third week of March 2021 versus 2020, we find that bookings are up 1,580% due to shuttered destinations at the same time last year. That, in a nutshell, is a recovery metric that helps you understand emergence from the downside, but has little long-term value.

For long-term value we add more data and also compare the same week versus 2019. The results? Bookings are up 58.5% compared to the same week in 2019. We now have both a recovery metric and a long-term trajectory metrics to qualify our recovery findings and make sure we’re on track. For the record, the current 2021 gains are dominated by pent-up demand, with the dramatic gains over 2020 also largely attributable to last year’s shutdown.

While this is a simplified example, the Insights Collective and I recommend that a multi-year discipline be applied across all data points measured, so that decisions through the recovery keep the long-term interests of the supplier or destination on track.

“What” you measure – shifting long-term interests? 

Major disruptors have a way of creating challenges and opportunities, but rarely as aggressively as 2020. While many suppliers and towns are looking forward to a return to “normal,” others see this as an opportunity to drive change and address long-standing challenges like workforce housing, community relations, over-visitation or differentiation, to their competitive advantage.

Some of what was important in 2019 – generating foot traffic in a particular part of a town, for example – is still important, but may be lower on the list in 2021. Shifting away from volume in favor of exclusivity, visitor infrastructure in favor of local lifestyle, lodging tax in favor of workforce housing or any one of a dozen other shifts, are all initiatives destinations may identify that will require new ways to measure success.

Carl Ribaudo, president of SMG, and a co-founder of Insights Collective, suggests that resorts may pivot towards “looking at residents’ satisfaction with tourism as it’s currently delivered, making sure it truly benefits all segments of the community.” Ralf Garrison, founder of the Collective, has another approach, but perhaps to the same end, suggesting there’s an opportunity for suppliers and destinations to be more selective in “identifying the type of visitors that are most compatible with the destination.”

Local satisfaction vs. visitor compatibility

In the first instance, we’re adding Resident Satisfaction to the things being measured, while the Garrison approach compels you to identify and measure traits of consumers before they arrive, then refine, repeat and measure again. As an aside, and not to diminish the targeting efforts of destination marketing organizations, while many are engaged in some version of that exercise, visitor traits have most often been driven by price and access rather than premeditation.

In a quantitative example, Bill Wishowski, director of operations at the Breckenridge Tourism Office, says “focusing on room nights (instead of occupancy) has become a higher priority for us as the number of available units has changed year-over-year” an example of getting in front of changes to second-homeowner and rent-by-owner markets by measuring differently.

The travel industry has largely measured success as revenue gained through price since the Great Recession, but is also something of a victim of that success. There are compelling reasons to measure recovery and trajectory in terms of a return to normal. But there are equally compelling reasons to embrace changing consumer, resident and societal dynamics to measure success in new ways, something mountain travel professionals have proven themselves more than capable in the past twelve months.


Insights Collective; a Tourism Economy Think Tank and Resource Center – is a collaboration of destination travel industry experts who are collaborating and working, together with mountain resort communities and their stakeholders, to understand, plan, and navigate through the emerging tourism marketplace. www.TheInsightsCollective.com  /  info@theinsightscollective.com 

After-Hours Medical Care in Basalt keeps patients out of the ER

The team at Aspen Valley Hospital’s After Hours Medical Center in Basalt provides comprehensive care for all types of immediate medical needs.
Visit After-Hours Medical Care

234 E Cody Lane
Basalt, CO 81621

Monday – Friday: 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

No appointment necessary, walk-ins welcome! Please call ahead if you have COVID-like symptoms.

For your convenience, virtual visits may be available. Call (970) 544-1250 to inquire. 

More information at aspenhospital.org.

In an outdoor-activity-centered community like the Roaring Fork Valley, sports-related and other minor injuries go hand-in-hand with the mountain terrain. But unlike a major urban center, the options for getting fast help after a mountain bike twist or the onset of other common illnesses and injuries are a little more limited – minus making what might be a costlier and time-consuming trip to the ER in Aspen.

That’s why Aspen Valley Hospital’s After-Hours Medical Care clinic in Basalt has become a well-respected and easy-to-access destination for urgent care needs. And with a convenient midvalley location and service hours seven days a week, 365 days a year, the clinic is an excellent, same-day alternative when your family doctor is unavailable.

Dr. Joshua Seymour is Medical Director for the After-Hours clinic in Basalt and also Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living in Aspen, both part of Aspen Valley Hospital’s Network of Care. Dr. Seymour says he’s proud the After-Hours Medical Care clinic is able to provide a safe and welcoming atmosphere for patients from throughout the entire valley and beyond.

“We provide comprehensive and cost-effective care for patients for a wide variety of minor issues – cuts, burns, lacerations, coughs, UTIs,” he says. “We’re open from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends, and every patient is seen by a board-certified physician, plus a nursing staff that has extensive training in emergency care.” Board certification is the highest level of accreditation within a given specialty. “In an urgent care setting, having doctors with the newest advancements in treatments and the skills that go with them leads to a higher quality of care,” says Dr. Seymour.

Dr. Seymour’s staff includes at least one board-certified doctor as well as a nurse onsite during those hours, and occasionally a second doctor or nurse practitioner helping out during busy times. 

“Generally, we’re able to see patients very quickly, without the wait or the cost you might experience at an ER,” he adds. “Our common goal has never changed – we’re here to provide an important service to the community.”

More than just a triage center for minor injuries, the After-Hours Medical Care center has also become a critical link in providing immediate care when a doctor’s visit is hard to schedule.

“We have a great relationship with the primary care offices in the valley, and that can really help to bridge the gap of after-hours care, when they’re not available,” he says. “After your visit, we can discuss your condition with your primary care provider.”

In the ongoing era of COVID, the After-Hours Medical Care facility has also taken great steps to ensure onsite patient safety, and is also offering patients the option of virtual visits. Patients can also be seen curbside at their vehicle, and the clinic has a negative pressure room, so walk-in patients can be treated safely.

Every patient at the After Hours Medical Center is seen by a board-certified physician, plus nursing staff with extensive training in emergency care.

“We’ve been militant in our COVID safety precautions, so we can offer Zoom visits, if we see that as an appropriate utilization of resources – and like an in-person visit, you’ll be seen by a board-certified physician, just in the safety and convenience of your own home,” he says. “We learned to adapt to telemedicine very quickly when COVID hit, and these ‘virtual house calls’ have become a big part of our care.”

For those who do need immediate care after a sports injury, Dr. Seymour says the clinic has a full x-ray suite, with results read by a board-certified radiologist. Patients can then be splinted and offered referrals for follow-up care with a wide variety of physical therapists, or the Hospital’s wide range of spinal, back or even concussion specialists. 

Dr. Seymour also works as a volunteer firefighter for Roaring Fork Fire Rescue. He says his many shifts as the doctor on call at the After-Hours clinic echo the community services he provides during his firefighter shifts.

Aspen Valley Hospital recognizes medical care can be expensive, and the After-Hours clinic is one way they are driving down costs for patients who do not necessarily need an ER level of care – with the associated ER fees. 

“The clinic works with a variety of insurances, as well as providing a 20% discount for patients who pay in cash,” says Dr. Seymour. “We try to make a visit as cost-effective as we can. If I’m seeing someone after a mountain bike crash, we’ll suture you up. But sometimes people come in, who clearly need to be seen at the hospital, and we have the emergency medicine expertise to handle those cases effectively.”

Volunteers needed to help domestic, sexual abuse survivors


Are you interested in helping victims of domestic and sexual abuse in our valley? Response needs volunteers to who can commit to at least two 12-hour on-call shifts per month. Crisis line calls are routed to volunteers’ cell phones (without the number being shared with the caller), so all you have to do is remain within cell range during your shifts. A 30-hour training is required and during the current pandemic restrictions, the training will be offered entirely online for the first time. The next training begins April 6th.

“I volunteer with Response because I believe in the transformative power of showing up for another person during times of deep sadness, confusion or fear,” said Response volunteer Shannon Birzon. “I feel eternally grateful for those who have done the same for me, and volunteering is a way for me to give back to my community.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit responsehelps.org/volunteer, call 970-920-5357, or email hannah@responsehelps.org.

The effects of domestic abuse
or sexual assault can feel overwhelming for victims, especially when they feel trapped in an unsafe situation.

Response, a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the upper Roaring Fork Valley, provides services that offer safety, comfort and relief for victims who need support.

In 2020, 150 clients used the services provided by Response, and 274 people called their 24-hour crisis helpline.

Survivors of abuse that come to Response find a non-judgmental listener, referrals to other agencies, court and medical accompaniment and many other types of support. Many of these survivors were in the midst of a life-changing crisis and Response was their first stop on their journey of recovery.

Response is looking for more local volunteers to be that listener and safety net for those in crisis. An online training for volunteer advocates begins online on Tuesday April 6th (see fact box).


One in three women, and one in four men, in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Those statistics ring true locally, according to Response staff.

“There’s a common misperception that victims fit into some kind of mold,” said Response’s Executive Director Shannon Meyer. “Anyone could be experiencing abuse— your neighbor, colleague, family member — yet you may have no idea that this is happening to them.” Domestic abuse affects people from every education level, socioeconomic class, race, gender, sexual orientation, single or married

Another misperception is that domestic abuse is always physical — it can also be psychological, emotional and financial.

“Abuse can touch anyone and victims don’t fit into any obvious stereotypes,” she said. “A lot of times, people are surprised by that.”


Response operates a 24/7 crisis help line staffed almost entirely by trained volunteers who work 12 hour on-call shifts on weeknights and weekends.

There were 274 calls to the helpline in 2020— and Response always needs more trained volunteers to assist callers in need.

“We rely on our trained volunteers to take shifts on the crisis line. Volunteers give our full time staff a break and keeps them from burning out.”

Volunteers must complete a 30- hour training program that teaches volunteers everything they need
to know to respond to a victim’s immediate needs when they call
in crisis. There is always a backup staff member on-call who can handle more complicated calls should a volunteer need assistance.

“The training provided to become an advocate prepares you to support and empower those in crisis, as well as expands a culture that provides safe harbor to survivors of violence and abuse,” said Greg Shaffran, a proud volunteer for Response since 2014.

Response asks its volunteers to take two on-call shifts per month, so the commitment is relatively minimal. The requirement for the on-call shift is pretty simple: volunteers must remain within cell range during their shifts to ensure they don’t miss a call.

“Our volunteer advocates serve a very important role of stabilizing a caller until they can connect with one of our staff advocates during office hours triaging until the callers can connect with our staff advocates,” Meyer said. “Volunteers need to be able to listen, understand the dynamics of what’s happening, tell them what resources are available and help them into a safe position until they can talk to our staff.”


If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or sexual abuse, Response has a 24-hour crisis help- line in the Roaring Fork Valley offering immediate response for victims any day of the week, any hour of the day.

Anyone experiencing domestic violence, sexual abuse or stalking can call 970-925-SAFE (7233) any time day or night if they need help.

Drivers on the Road to Recovery: Vaccinations, Vacations and Visitor Values

This Illustrative Example demonstrates how resort communities might characterize visitor types based on their Visitor Fit Factor.
Source: Insights Collective Think Tank
Insights from Aspen & Snowmass

Keeping things safe for an anticipated travel boom

Tourism leaders in Aspen and Snowmass say they expect 2021 travel to rebound considerably. That also means making a concerted effort to keep both visitors and local residents safe and happy.

 “We know there is a direct correlation between vaccine announcements and consumer confidence to travel,” says Eliza Voss, Vice President, Destination Marketing, with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. “So vaccinations, coupled with pent up demand, are absolutely influencing the desire to get back out and travel.”

 And much like the “Visitor Fit Factor” model, Voss says that the older “haves” have become a high priority for summer 2021 marketing.

 “Baby boomers, one of Aspen’s key demographics, were first in line to the vaccine and are eager to connect with friends and family, and we hope they consider Aspen as a destination for restorative multi-generational travel,” she says.

 To expedite a safe season, Voss says visitor education remains front and center.

 “ACRA’s role as a destination management organization during this time of transition is to educate, with programs like ‘How to Aspen,’ and manage expectations for our guests this summer,” she says. “Economic recovery is tied to public health, and so we will continue to work alongside our public health officials and business owners to ensure success on both sides and create an environment for Aspen to thrive.”

Snowmass encourages longer summertime stays

Rose Abello, Director of Snowmass Tourism, says Snowmass is working hard to take advantage of pent-up consumer demand for travel, as well as encouraging visitors to consider longer stays as a more pleasant setting for their continued work-from-home arrangements.  

 “Consumer confidence for travel is at a 12-month high, with 87% of those surveyed saying they have a trip planned in the next 6 months,” she says. “In addition, we believe that more and more people are going to take advantage of the flexibility to work from ‘home’ to plan longer stays – possibly with extended family. To appeal to these visitors we are tweaking our advertising campaign to include the line ‘this summer, summer in Snowmass.’” 

 Abello also reiterates Snowmass’s commitment to public safety.  

“State and local health officials are working diligently to balance easing restrictions with keeping our communities safe and economies vibrant,” she says. “In Snowmass we are planning events and activations that will scale to the public health orders/restrictions while still creating fun and engagement for locals and visitors alike.”

Listen to the accompanying podcast from Ralf Garrison and Insights Collective here


Our first article in this Road to Recovery series established that vacation demand is strong. Seemingly everyone is thinking about vacation travel, and the Inntopia/DestiMetrics data shows that advanced bookings are strong, particularly for end-of-season visitation.

But COVID-19 and its variants also love to go traveling. They are spread by congregation and are full of surprises, and demand our respect and careful consideration. “Infections are trending upwards in most states, and several, including Colorado, reported increases of more than 30%,” according to Washington Post reports. Dr. Fauci cautions that we have not turned the corner but are approaching the intersection.

As summer season approaches, community leaders face tough decisions as they contemplate who, how and when to invite visitors back. It’s all in an ongoing effort to strike a balance between the safety of pandemic protocols and the benefits of economic liberation. The CDC is currently advising against non-essential travel, but promising imminent guidance, according to CDC Director Dr. Wilensky. 

So now what? The Insights Collective took on the subject, from which I offer the following synopsis.

A destination-centric shift

Traditional destination tourism promotion has been largely based on marketplace demand but then the concept of “over-tourism” emerged and COVID-19 considerations accelerated, creating a distinct local-resident-centric perspective. Travel Weekly’s Jeri Clausing writes: “some… tourism economies are pushing back on attempts to return to the status quo and advance tourism management… with an emphasis on more local input and control.” Not a new concept, but easier said than done.

Now, with the prospects of what one community leader called “more demand than we know what to do with,” there may be a unique opportunity to be more selective: identifying, inviting and hosting the type of visitors that are most compatible with the character and values of local and part time residents. Let’s call it the “Visitor Fit Factor.”

To illustrate, we’ve segmented prospective visitors by typology to demonstrate how it might work and why it matters:

1. HAVES: Those already vaccinated – over 70% of those over 65, and over 50 million who have completed vaccination per CDC at writing, plus many more with natural immunity – are all injected with a sense of liberation and impunity about travel. Our Think Tank destination experts Carl Ribaudo and Brian London expect Baby Boomers (born 1948-1964) to lead the way and emerge as the preferred target guest for many discerning destinations.

2. HAVE-NOTS: Interested but not yet vaccinated, much of the U.S. population is still in queue, but as per Dr. Fauci, “anyone who wants one (vaccination) should be able to get one by May.” Mostly mid-life and younger population (Gen X, Y, Millennials), this has been the most active emerging market segment for travel in recent past, and likely will be again in the future. For now, eager to travel and anointed with the hubris of youth, some Have-Nots are demonstrating conflicting values and generating friction with local residents in some markets – the coastal spring break news being a recent case in point.

3. WON’T/DON’T: A significant portion of the U.S. population does not intend to become vaccinated – as many as 30% of all Americans, per National Institute for Health estimates – but have already been traveling and intend to continue. This WON’T/DON’T typology is not age specific, appears to have overriding interest in freedom of choice, distrust of science and government, and follows political influence that trumps any concern for personal welfare or the greater good. As such, they could be least likely to be in sync with the values of their destination residents, and subsequently earn the lowest Visitor Fit Factor.

While all three visitor typologies demonstrate strong marketplace demand for travel, the wellbeing and compatibility with their destination community residents means their Visitor Fit Factor varies widely. And so should be the priority as resort leaders determine who, when and how to restart tourism promotional efforts going forward. 

At stake is not just the ability to defend against a spring 2021 spike in COVID-19 infections in the short term, but longer-term local sentiment about the future of a tourism-based economy down the road.

The least compatible may be the most likely visitors

Ironically, absent strong leadership and a premeditated, inclusive policy on what, when and who to target, visitors will make travel decisions based on their own preferences. The result could be counterproductive, with more business from the least compatible visitor types, and even less business from those most attractive and compatible, who have the highest Visitor Fit Factor.

The road to recovery is neither smooth nor straight, with curves, potholes, road closures and detours, especially for those who are not clear about their final destination, haven’t thought out their route map or lose their way along the path.

While the challenges are steep, the pandemic has brought with it a silver lining: a unique opportunity to emerge with a clear road map to a new reality and more sustainable future for all. The war against the pandemic is global, but this battle will be waged, won or lost locally.

About Insights Collective

Insights Collective; a Tourism Economy Think Tank and Resource Center – is a collaboration of destination travel industry experts who are collaborating and working, together with mountain resort communities and their stakeholders, to understand, plan, and navigate through the emerging tourism marketplace. www.TheInsightsCollective.com  /  info@theinsightscollective.com

What does tourism look like this summer?

Data shows that travel bookings arriving in the market within 90 days go up when infection rates decrease, and go down when infection rates are on the rise. (Source: Inntopia)
About Insights Collective

Insights Collective; a Tourism Economy Think Tank and Resource Center – is a collaboration of destination travel industry experts who are collaborating and working, together with mountain resort communities and their stakeholders, to understand, plan, and navigate through the emerging tourism marketplace. www.TheInsightsCollective.com  /  info@theinsightscollective.com

The Collective’s Resource Center is comprised of its founding members, each a specialist in their own right

Jane Babilon, Lodging Research Consultant
Dave Belin,  RRC Associates
Chris Cares,  RRC Associates
Barb Taylor Carpender, Taylored Alliances.
Tom Foley,   Inntopia/DestiMetrics
Ralf Garrison,  Advisory Group of Denver
Brian  London.  London Tourism Publications
Carl Ribaudo, SMG Consulting
Susan Rubin Stewart, Contact Center Consultant
Jesse True,  True Consulting

As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to feel like it is subsiding, given the decreases in infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths, combined with the rapid increase in vaccinations, thoughts in the tourism industry focus on returning to a pre-pandemic normal. Many tourism destinations, attractions, lodging, restaurant providers, recreation providers and retail stores – as well as residents and local governments – are asking (or at least thinking), what will tourism look like this summer?

Yes, the conventional wisdom view is that there is significant pent-up consumer demand for travel. And as the COVID-19 vaccination numbers continue to climb, that in turn will unleash increased visitation on tourism destinations across the country. But as I have learned, conventional wisdom is often not conventional or wise. Let us consider the following.

Across the country, there is evidence that the lodging industry is picking up. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Smith Travel Research reported hotel occupancy for the week ending March 6 was 49% nationally, the highest it has been since October.” Additionally, the same article reported the Transportation Security Administration saw 1.36 million people pass through airport security checkpoints on Friday, March 12 alone, the most in an entire year. Leisure travel has now become the driver in the industry as many analysts concur that the more financially impactful business travel will be slow to recover, perhaps waiting until COVID-19 herd immunity is achieved. It remains to be seen when major corporate customers will be back to pre-pandemic levels.

From a mountain tourism destination perspective, the past year has given us several insights. First, despite the pandemic, demand for outdoor recreation-based destinations was substantial. These destinations, be they located in the mountains, on the coast or in the desert, did very well in terms of visitation. Consumers looked to escape the claustrophobia of city locations and find relief from the limits of COVID-19 on the hiking or biking trail, the ski run or just by being outside. The consensus view of the Insights Collective:

“That mountain destinations will see a continued level of visitation because of the interest in outdoor recreation. This level of visitation would be similar to last summer. In some cases, even greater demand as more people become vaccinated, mask mandates expire and people feel confident traveling again. The Insights Collective also expects fall visitation to be a strong at mountain destinations for the same reasons.”

This view is supported by some recent data from Inntopia that may give some insight into consumer behavior. In the short term, that might lead to more mountain destination travel demand over the summer and fall. According to Tom Foley, Senior Vice President with Inntopia and an Insight Collective member, “There have been two lead indicators through this pandemic. The first is infection rates, with bookings arriving within 90 days going up when infection rates go down, and vice-versa, as seen on the chart. The second – and more exciting – is a direct correlation between first-time vaccinations and bookings, with bookings arriving within 90 days almost directly mirroring the patterns of vaccine doses administered across the country.” Foley also added, “While this doesn’t mean that only vaccinated people are booking, what it strongly infers is that society is responding to vaccinations, both with vaccinated persons planning immediate travel, and with non-vaccinated persons feeling more confident (for better or worse) that much of the threat is behind us and following suit.” As the vaccination trend takes hold, it appears consumers are trading the long-term planned trip for a more spontaneous one within the next several months – a clear sign of confidence and interest in booking travel.

Despite these positive indicators both nationally and in mountain tourism destinations, there could be some hiccups. There are several trends to keep an eye on that may impact travel to mountain tourism destinations. First could be the slow resumption of youth activities, including everything from summer camps to swimming lessons, which could curtail family travel and keep some parents and families closer to home. Second and more troubling would be issues related to a national failure to reach herd immunity. One could imagine a scenario as the initial surge in vaccinations gives way to holdouts and deniers, both of which are already showing up in the media. Could this enable COVID-19 variants an opportunity to flourish and force further restrictions? A final trend to keep an eye on could be economic challenges that hold back consumer confidence. Some 9.4 million jobs have been lost since the pandemic began. There’s also the possibility of inflation impacting the $1.3 trillion consumers have in savings, as well as the additional $1.9 trillion in stimulus making its way into the economy. And there’s increased interest rates – all factors which suppress travel.

Our view: Be optimistic, but be cautious.

Local leaders in both Aspen and Snowmass are planning to take that approach for the season ahead.

“Snowmass properties are telling us that there is strong early demand for summer already,” said Rose Abello, tourism director for Snowmass. “We anticipate a combination of longer stays booked farther in advance along with the continuation of demand for last minute bookings.” 

Abello says Snowmass Tourism will continue to plan a series of events and activations for visitors and locals alike, shifting as needed when state, county and local regulations change.

“The great news is that what the Valley offers — wide open spaces, access to the outdoors, a great variety of dining, shopping and more – should continue to resonate with travelers and provide some level of resiliency with fluctuating restrictions,” she said. 

Eliza Voss, vice president of destination marketing with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, says ACRA is cautiously optimistic for summer, but plans to remain nimble in order to pivot as public health guidelines may dictate.

“There is certainly pent-up demand for summer, particularly from those that have been fully vaccinated and are interested in resuming some leisure activities with family and friends they may not have seen for a year,” Voss said. “Many arts & cultural organizations are planning for in person programming albeit with reduced capacity and necessary protocols in place, but we are thrilled at the idea of live music & theater.”

When it comes to exploring the outdoor recreation that Aspen has to offer, Voss said ACRA’s messaging will focus on education and sustainability, highlighting the best ways to explore these natural assets while preserving them for many years to come.

Art gallery spotlight: Marianne Boesky Gallery

Dashiell Manley “isolated phenomenon (purple weather),” 2020 Oil on linen 32 x 39 in.
Marianne Boesky Gallery

100 S. Spring St., Aspen

Since its inception in 1996, Marianne Boesky Gallery’s mission has been to represent and support the work of contemporary international artists of all media. This winter in Aspen, Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present “The Hollow,” a solo exhibition of new works by Donald Moffett on view Nov. 27, 2020 to Jan. 18, 2021.

New York-based artist Donald Moffett emerged as both an artist and activist in the late 1980s, participating in the ACT UP movement and as a founding member of the collective Gran Fury. “The Hollow” continues Moffett’s interest in minimalist, abstract forms that simultaneously carry personal and metaphorical meaning. The works on view include a grouping of Moffett’s extruded and resin techniques from his glory hole series. In his extruded paintings, the artist methodically extends individual tendrils of oil paint to stand perpendicular to the canvas, creating a bristling three-dimensional surface. In contrast, Moffett’s resin works on view achieve a luminous appearance by pouring pigmented resin on the painting’s surface.

Moffett subverts traditional notions of painting and abstraction, employing innovative technique and methodology to disrupt the surface in his process of extruding paint, resin-pouring, and routing his monochromatic works. The subtle coding of the painting’s orifice-like holes and lush textures splits across multiple concerns: formal, metaphorical, structural.

In addition to our winter exhibition, new works by gallery artists the Haas Brothers, Dashiell Manley and Claudia Wieser will be on view on the second floor. 

For more information, visit marianneboeskygallery.com, or email info@boeskygallery.com, 212-680-9889.

Introducing a new series examining post-COVID economic trends in mountain resort communities

Insights Collective; a Tourism Economy Think Tank and Resource Center – is a collaboration of destination travel industry experts who are collaborating and working, together with mountain resort communities and their stakeholders, to understand, plan, and navigate through the emerging tourism marketplace. www.TheInsightsCollective.com  /  info@theinsightscollective.com

The Collective’s Resource Center is comprised of its founding members, each a specialist in their own right
Jane Babilon, Lodging Research Consultant
Dave Belin,  RRC Associates
Chris Cares,  RRC Associates
Barb Taylor Carpender, Taylored Alliances.
Tom Foley,   Inntopia/DestiMetrics
Ralf Garrison,  Advisory Group of Denver
Brian  London.  London Tourism Publications
Carl Ribaudo, SMG Consulting
Susan Rubin Stewart, Contact Center Consultant
Jesse True,  True Consulting

From Ralf Garrison

I am pleased to join Bob Brown, The Aspen Times and its sister mountain town publications, to announce a second series of articles in our ongoing collaboration with resort community leaders and stakeholders, who have been working to understand, plan, and navigate through this pandemic economy and now, finally, beginning the road to recovery.

It was almost exactly a year ago that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control issued a “quarantine in place” order, and the 2021 winter season came to an abrupt end. Most of us were caught totally off guard by this unprecedented event.  Understandably gob smacked, we experienced intense emotions as we struggled to make sense of the ramifications to the very lifestyle to which we all aspire. 

As decade-long business partners with mountain resort communities, we launched The Insights Collective as a pandemic economy think tank and resource center and formed a collaboration with The Aspen Times, with a series of articles publishing in the fall of 2020.

What a difference a year makes.  Now, with COVID-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the decline and vaccinations becoming widely available, the data points to a bright future. There are already signs that the forthcoming summer season could be quite strong, with vaccinated boomers and general pent-up demand leading the way.

But, as we’ve all learned, COVID-19 spreads by travel, loves to party and, with its variants, is full of surprises. It’s best addressed with humility and respect, or we may find ourselves going backward again.

Baseball legend Yogi Berra said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Neither is the road to recovery. It’s unclear what we’ll experience, or how closely our eventual destination will compare to the good old days.

Our new nine-part weekly series is intended to track the anticipated recovery, what will return to some sense of normalcy, and what may have changed forever.

Supporting research and insights will be provided in written and audio formats by Insights Collective team members, featuring their trademark spin on “why it matters.” And once again, we’re partnering with The Aspen Times; long time associates of ours who support the greater good in the resort communities they serve.

Our original mantra, “We’re smarter together than any of us, individually,” has proven valid and we’re happy to continue this collaboration with The Aspen Times and any/all like-minded resort community stakeholders.

Ralf Garrison is the Founder of Insights Collective

From Bob Brown

“Unprecedented,” “remarkable,” “stay at home” and “flatten the curve” are just a few of the terms that have grown tiresome over the past 12 months. On this one-year anniversary of our world shutting down, we are looking forward with optimism and resilience, still seeking to understand our new reality moving forward.

Last year, The Aspen Times partnered with the Insights Collective, who are leading western ski community research and marketing professionals. The anchor companies represented by these individuals are Inntopia/DestiMetrics, RRC Associates and The Strategic Marketing Group. Together we produced a series that illuminated insights around emerging travel trends, consumer sentiment and long stay travel residency.

Now, with restrictions relaxing and a clear path for immunization providing the prospect of herd immunity across the U.S., there are more learnings and opportunities to share as we prepare for the year ahead and what looks to be a fantastic summer season.

Over the last several months, the Insights Collective has been gathering more data, engaging with consumers and observing emerging trends. Now, we are partnering for a new series focused on “The road ahead.” The Insights Collective brings a more global view, while our team at The Aspen Times will provide a local perspective on trends impacting our community.

This collaboration will provide information to be acted upon in local businesses or community organizations, improving results in the year ahead.

Along with Ralf Garrison, our goal is to bring communities together to grow and prosper. In our original series, I included the mission of The Aspen Times and its sister publications to “Champion the Power of People to Improve Communities,” and the purpose of this new effort is the same.

Looking forward, we’re optimistic for this summer and a robust recovery. Fortunately, the data and consumer sentiment supports our instincts, which we’re excited to share for the next nine weeks. The series begins March 24 and ends on May 19.

Bob Brown is the president of Swift Communications, parent company of The Aspen Times

Art gallery spotlight: Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Studio Coordinator of Sculpture Zakriya Rabani works in the studio on the Anderson Ranch campus
Roshni Gorur, Anderson Ranch Arts Center
Anderson Ranch hours and contact information

5263 Owl Creek Road Snowmass Village
Phone:  970-923-3181

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Founded in 1966, Anderson Ranch Arts Center is a premier destination in America for art making and critical dialogue, bringing together aspiring and internationally renowned artists to discuss and further their work in a stimulating environment.

Its mission is to enrich lives with art, inspiration and community. The 5-acre campus hosts extensive workshops for aspiring, emerging, established artists, children and teenagers in eight disciplines, including photography & new media, ceramics, painting & drawing, furniture design & woodworking, sculpture, printmaking and digital fabrication.

Artist Ajax Axe welds during a Facilitated Studio Practice session in the Anderson Ranch sculpture studio.
Roshni Gorur, Anderson Ranch Arts Center

“We are an oasis, a maker’s paradise, but also leading the way in technology and our facilities,” said Katherine Roberts, director of marketing and communications. “We are also known internationally as a place where very sophisticated, world-famous artists come to create and engage with the community.”

Events include virtual and in-person workshops, lectures, Q&A sessions with world-renowned artists, collectors and art world luminaries, as well as free public events such as gallery exhibitions, art auctions and culinary events in the Ranch Cafe.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson Ranch remains an active campus, with small, safe workshops and art-making still happening, as well as an outdoor sculpture exhibition and many virtual events and workshops.

In addition to the Summer Series: Featured Artists & Conversations, the Ranch hosts engaging events throughout the year including: the Recognition Dinner, held in honor of Anderson Ranch’s International Artist Award and Service to the Arts Award honorees; the Annual Art Auction & Community Picnic, a 40-year tradition which features works of local, national and international artists; and a year-round Artists-in-Residence Program, fostering artistic growth for emerging and established visual artists.

Learn more at www.andersonranch.org or by calling 970-923-3181.

Current events

Founded in 1966, Anderson Ranch Arts Center is a premier destination in America for art making and critical dialogue.
Roshni Gorur, Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Installed through September of 2021, 17 sculptures by local, national and internationally acclaimed artists are installed outdoors around the Ranch campus in the “Scuplturally Distanced” exhibition. A selection of the works are for sale, with proceeds shared between Anderson Ranch and the artists.

Through April 30, a campus art sale will help raise money for Anderson Ranch scholarships, benefiting the more than 30% of Anderson Ranch students and residents who receive financial support. Artwork will be ready to buy and display in your home.

Check the website for a list of upcoming visiting artists, one of Anderson Ranch’s signature experiences, plus many virtual workshops happening throughout winter and spring.

And don’t forget to sign up for summer 2021 workshops, online now.

Anderson Ranch released a detailed COVID-19 Business Safety Plan in October that outlines practices throughout the campus in place to keep staff and visitors safe. For a full list of current events at the campus, and to download the safety plan, visit www.andersonranch.org.

Anderson Ranch Master Printer Brian Shure prints an Anderson Ranch Edition in collaboration with artist Simon Haas in the Patton Print Shop on the Anderson Ranch campus.
Roshni Gorur, Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Art gallery spotlight: Omnibus Gallery

Leonetto Cappiello “Kub” 1931 78 x 50 in.
Hours and contact information

Omnibus Gallery
410 E. Hyman Avenue
Aspen, Colorado 81611

Hours: Noon-ish to 8-ish; Closed Sundays unless the hotels are full!

Strong on content and light on fluff, the Omnibus Gallery dubs itself the “finest gallery collection of original vintage posters ever.”

“What I have on the walls is a museum — I hear this thousands of times a year, and it’s not an overstatement,” says owner Goerge Sells. “It’s the best gallery I’ve ever been in. It’s really special, and really unique in the world of art; in terms of graphic arts, this is the motherlode.” 

The gallery’s rare and vintage lithograph posters date from the late 1880s to just after World War II, depicting billboards, pinups, sporting events, film, automobiles, travel and anything else imaginable. The inventory is deep and the 3,300-square-foot space is “filled to the gills with really cool stuff.”

Admittedly, Sells is a bit of a slob and the gallery is disorganized, but he likens it to an “electrical, visual experience.”

Sells started collecting and selling vintage posters around 1981. He viewed the art form, known as “the art of the streets,” as a part of the human experience. It went on for about 125 years and it’s something to which we all can relate. 

“We’ve all seen posters all of our lives,” Sells says. “This art form is in our DNA, it’s in our being. I believe that what I’m doing here is really important, that what I have here at Omnibus is really special.”

When he first started collecting, Sells said there were plenty of original posters available to buy. He used to have to budget what he could spend because there was such a massive supply. Now, there’s just not much left.

I have hundreds of images in here that are part of the collections in some of the major art museums in the world that carry this time period — it’s really satisfying,” Sells says.

Artists represented include the turn of the Century masters such as Charles Loupot, A.M. Cassandre, Ludwig Hohlwein and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, a visionary who believed that lithography was the art of the future. Sells has about 15 Toulouse-Lautrec posters, who he calls the “master” of this art form. 

The gallery features about 6,000 posters, with another 2,000 in backstock. Prices range from $500 to tens of thousands.

Art gallery spotlight: Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum. Photo: Michael Moran/OTTO
Hours and contact information:

Aspen Art Museum
637 East Hyman Avenue
t: 970-925-8050
f: 970-925-8054

Admission to the AAM is free courtesy of Amy and John Phelan

Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Mondays

The Aspen Art Museum (AAM) is an admission-free, globally engaged contemporary art museum, with community, education and member programs that provide ever-changing onsite and online exhibitions, workshops, and events. 

Opened as the “Aspen Center for the Visual Arts” in 1979,  the museum was officially accredited as the Aspen Art Museum in 1984. The AAM’s downtown building  was designed by 2014 Pritzker Prize for Architecture winner Shigeru Ban and completed that same year with 100% private funding. In 2017, the facility was recognized among the American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards for “best contemporary architecture.”


Modern Aspen was founded on the principles of “The Aspen Idea” —  the balance of “mind, body and spirit” — a holistic concept which continues to inform AAM programming. Under museum Director Nicola Lees, the museum’s future builds on the legacy of Aspen’s singular history and the artists that visited over the course of the 20th century, including Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenberg, Bruce Nauman, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and resident artist/designers like Herbert Bayer. 

Working rigorously and considerately with the local community to put education, collaboration, and community at the heart of its programming and with artists across the ecology of the artworld, the AAM hosts site-specific artist commissions, exhibitions, and educational and public programs that respond to Aspen, the Roaring Fork Valley, and Colorado’s Western Slope and the area’s unique climate and topography. 

Finding creative ways to be site-specific and site-responsive in times of inhibited social contact has led to flexible and dynamic museum programs that move fluidly between physical and digital spheres and engage artists not only in exhibitions, but also in helping reinvent and redefine what museums can be as ‘site’ may refer to hybrid physical/digital spaces.

SO Café on the rooftop

On the rooftop overlooking the museum’s Sculpture Garden, the AAM’s 2,700-square-foot SO café offers among town’s most socially distanced daytime indoor/outdoor dining experiences complete with views of Ajax Mountain and downtown Aspen. Guests may dine-in or carry out from a weekly changing menu of local ingredients prepared by museum culinary partners Julia and Allen Domingos.

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Coffee & Croissants: 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Beverages & Snacks: 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
BOGO Happy Hour: 3 to 5 p.m.