ACRA halfway through destination travel marketing plan

People enjoy the sun and summer breeze at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Finding that sweet spot where people visit Aspen for the very reason residents live here is what the Aspen Chamber Resort Association will attempt to do with the rollout of its Destination Management Plan in January.

At a virtual tourism town hall on Tuesday, ACRA officials updated the community on a new marketing plan the chamber is establishing in conjunction with Destination Think, a Vancouver-based company specializing in tourism marketing.

ACRA is also counting on the help of the community: so far, the effort has included a resident sentiment survey that yielded 1,300 responses, in addition to previous town halls held on the subject. Also this week, ACRA and Destination Think are hosting workshops with residents and businesses on the future of local marketing.

Officials said they are more than halfway through finalizing the plan, which aims to “create a more sustainable tourism landscape in Aspen – a landscape that helps sustain the industry and helps us better manage and supporting our lands, our visitors and each other,” according to the event registration.

The results of the survey were not released at City Hall, but Frank Cuypers, chief strategist for Destination Tank, briefly summarized its findings, which come on top of a growing housing shortage for workers, a crisis plaguing ski resorts and aggravated by growing demand. for short term rentals.

“What we learned about Aspen – staff shortages, gentrification, mountain migration, social inequality, transport management, economic diversification, people wanting to preserve the character of a small town, ‘where is the soul of our destination’ , that’s what you hear a lot, and better tourist experiences, more arts and culture…. So if I have to wrap up, I think the challenge is that Aspen is so popular, so know how outlive your reputation economically, environmentally, socially and possibly existentially.

The chamber’s roots in a destination marketing plan actually date back to 2016, when it began to focus its public efforts on preserving the local quality of life. ACRA would later come out with “The Aspen Pledge”, a set of serious but playful commandments for visitors to “forgo high fashion and dress for high altitudes”, “leave the wildlife alone” or pledge of “not skiing in jeans”. “, among other wishes.

He also extended the effort through public safety and etiquette campaigns focused on outdoor excursions, and continues to emphasize Aspen through a growing number of videos emphasizing the local experience on the chamber website and social media platforms.

“Video content is king,” said Eliza Voss, ACRA vice president, destination marketing.

In the meantime, the room presented Destination Think in July for a six-month job at a cost of $123,000. Since then, they’ve worked to craft a marketing campaign to help Aspen thrive on its success and loot, rather than fall victim to it.

“People need to understand that if you go into this mode — tourism at all costs — you risk destroying the hand that feeds you,” Cuypers said, suggesting Aspen would lose the very charm that draws people here in the first place. “if you push to safeguard your reputation in the eyes of good visitors. It’s a balancing act, of course, and I think it’s doable.

Talk to many locals today, and the balance isn’t there, at least on the services side where employees have expressed frustrations not only at being overworked due to labor shortages work, but also to be underestimated at the feet of authorized guests.

“We’ve had numerous reports of rudeness and authoritative behavior,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said in a question to Cuypers about whether other tourism markets he’s worked with have similar challenges.

Cuypers said there are aggressive and polite ways to make guests play well, whether it’s getting them to sign a pledge or even fining them.

“There’s a lot to be said about it, it’s a great question, and it’s not just in Aspen,” he said.

[email protected]

Comments are closed.