Office boosts rural tourism

John Scarffe, Nederland.  The Colorado Tourism Office helps with tourism in the state and can assist Nederland in drafting messages that will attract tourists when the town is less busy. The Nederland Downtown Development authority brought representatives of the state tourism office for a business focused workshop during lunch at Noon, on November 30, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center.

 

The Nederland Downtown Development Authority was asked to help administer a grant from Boulder County to look at Economic Development in the Peak to Peak and mountain region. One of the objectives is to bring networking and business-focused workshops and training for the businesses in the region.

 

Jill Corbin, director of destination development, gave an overview of the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO), which is here to serve the state of Colorado and help with tourism. They are located in the Office of Economic Development and see tourism as an opportunity for economic development.

 

The Colorado Tourism Office went to four different locations around the state, did research and talked to people and came up with strategic plan for the next three to five years, Corbin said. “We hope it will help guide towns related to tourism.”

 

One of the main documents the Office used to promote the state is a map, which is shared with visitors or potential visitors. They are in the process of rebranding this map, because the current version is not exciting, and they want local participation in the rebranding, Corbin said.

 

The Office also has an Official State Vacation Guide and Alive Magazine, an inspirational piece for travelers. Much information about the state can be found on Colorado.com.

 

The Colorado Field Guide resulted from lessons learned during listening sessions, Corbin said. “Travelers are coming to the state and going up I-70.

 

We have to disburse travelers throughout the state.”

 

The Office now wants to market Colorado to targeted audiences, and get people to come who will stay longer and spend more money, Corbin said. The Field Guide is about getting people out into the state. The state’s marketing has always been focused out-of-state, but the Field Guide is for Colorado residents to get them out and around the state.

 

The Colorado Tourism Office has a robust public relations team. They are able to get stories about Colorado out to the media and are always looking for stories and events to promote, Corbin said.

 

CTO will assist with social media campaigns, and has a social co-op. If an organization pays $1,000 for a marketing effort, they will match it.

 

International visits are growing, Corbin said. These are high-quality visitors who stay longer and have money to spend. Top countries with visitors to Colorado include Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia and Germany. China knows Colorado, and its tourists are going to start coming in larger numbers.

 

Denver will be hosting the IPW May 19-23, 2018, so lots of international folks will be here, Corbin said, along with media from all over the world. Colorado will see one million more international visitors each year in the two years following.

 

IPW is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the United States, according to the IPW website. In just three days of pre-scheduled business appointments, more than 6,000 delegates representing U.S. travel organizations from every region of the USA and international and domestic buyers and media from more than 70 countries meet face-to-face to conduct future travel business to the USA.

 

The Destination Development Department seeks to increase traveler spending through creation and branding of new travel experiences in less visited Colorado areas, Corbin said. They want to empower rural destination partners to develop and promote tourism assets, and help each community tell their stories and why someone should go there.

 

CTO has marketing matching grants. Non profits that have collaboration and lots of partners are eligible for funding at $6,000.

 

The CHAMP Programs provide an opportunity for businesses to contact them for marketing strategies, and they will pair you with a mentor who can help. “That’s what this program is all about. It’s free. We pay for the mentors,” Corbin said.

 

Implementation Sponsorships for $5,000 will be awarded in implementation funding for successful CHAMP projects, which are eligible for a maximum of a $1,000 grant to implement a key priority.

 

The Annual Tourism Conference every year provides an opportunity to learn and connect with a lot of partners, Corbin said. Scholarships are awarded.

 

They also are working to promote rural conferences throughout the state with $15,000 in sponsorships awarded to select conferences.

 

In the works is a Tourism Development Program, which provides a comprehensive training program designed to assist early stage rural communities uncover their full tourism potential. That will be coming in place in February.

 

Industry.colorado.com is a toolkit to answer questions regarding visitor readiness, marketing and a social media kit. CTO is applying for a grant in April because the Scenic Byways website is not inspiring, Corbin said.

 

The website will be found on Colorado.com and will have all the things you want to know about your byway. Once they have all the photos and content, they will share it with everyone.

 

The company Corbin is working with did Maryland’s Scenic Byways and maps. Visitors can select the experience they are looking for, such as trip tips and a list of byways.

 

We would have all 26 byways, and you would click each one for more information. Visitor Centers along the byways will be on there. To see the sample go to visitmaryland.org.

 

Scott Bruntjen, who has been with Boulder County Tourism and Recreation since 1989, told the group that work on the Peak to Peak Byway started in 1987. They spent $30,000 on a study, and it was a disaster here. The commissioners wanted to sustain, preserve and identify the economy up here.

 

Corbin said that CTO works with research institutions to gather information about the state. They help gather data to determine a marking campaign and to determine where travelers are going.

 

Scenic visitors are the ones you want with income over $100,000. Having a byway is a plus. You are attracting the higher quality travelers who want to take a scenic drive.

 

“They are coming at all the tense times, Saturdays, the weekends, the fall,” Corbin said. “We can help you send that message with pre-trip planning.

 

 

We don’t want to send travelers to a place where they are going to have a bad experience. I encourage you to get the message out and work with each other.”

 

The NDDA will be also be hosting a Google My Business mini workshop in January 2018 and is putting together a Peak 2 Peak Small Business Conference in early April. To be on the mailing list, go to peak2peakbuinessgroup@gmail.com.

 

 

(Originally published in the December 14, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)