Each year, the Colorado Tourism Office solicits requests for proposal from advertising agencies around the state.

This year being no exception, the CTO on Jan. 10 opened the bidding for four marketing-related contracts:

Advertising/overall brand direction;

Public relations/social media;

Digital directives/digital advertising; and

Publication of the state visitors vacation guide.

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What’s new is that the second item – public relations/social media – used to be one category, combined with advertising/overall brand direction.

Vladimir Jones, a Springs-based advertising and public relations agency, has won contracts in the past with the CTO, from 1999 to 2006.

For fiscal 2012, Vladimir is submitting a bid for the first item – advertising/overall brand direction, said Kate Faricy, a spokeswoman for Vladimir.

New York-based MMG Mardiks has held the contract for the first three marketing positions since late 2006.

Any agency can bid for one or all four of these categories, said Tommy Martinez, domestic marketing manager for the CTO. Each item will be bid separately.

He expects to receive about 10 to 15 bids for each contract.

“We’re anticipating a pretty healthy competition,” Martinez said.

Each winner will be awarded a one-year contract with two possible one-year extensions. The primary focus this year for the CTO is luring more out-of-state visitors. The deadline to respond to the RFP is Feb. 18.

U.S. travel and tourism update

As I mentioned in my CVB story on this week’s front page, the nation saw a definite improvement last year in tourism and travel, and industry pundits say that bodes well for this year, as well.

U.S. travel and tourism output (adjusted for changes in price) increased at an annual rate of 8 percent during the third quarter of 2010 – the largest quarterly increase in travel and tourism spending since the first quarter of 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Nationwide, more than 8 million jobs are tied to travel and tourism, while more than 1 million are directly supported by international travelers. Total tourism-related employment rose by 2 percent during the third quarter.

Recent growth in this industry is most obvious in the lodging, restaurant and passenger air transportation sectors. Spending on passenger air transportation increased nearly 30 percent in the third quarter. And dollars spent on traveler accommodations increased 9.5 percent during the same quarter.

The Commerce Department expects international visitor volume to increase 6 percent to 9 percent annually through 2015. By then, international visitors, officials say, will reach almost 83 million, an increase of 51 percent from 2009 through 2015.

Allegiant’s Q4 financial results

Allegiant Travel Co., which runs an airline at the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, just posted its 32nd consecutive profitable quarter.

For 2010, the company had $105 million in operating profit and $66 million in net income.

Fourth-quarter results, however, with a 13 percent operating margin, came in below its goal of 20 percent because of the substantial increase in jet fuel prices, which peaked during the last two weeks of the quarter. In three months, the company’s service-cost per gallon increased almost 11 percent. Nonetheless, Allegiant grew earnings per share by 23 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.

In the third quarter, the airline added two nonstop routes from the Colorado Springs airport to Long Beach Airport and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

Other highlights of the fourth quarter:

Allegiant entered into a three-year agreement with Alamo Rent A Car for it to be the exclusive rental-car provider for Allegiant through 2013.

It added five new cities and 16 new routes.

It instituted a new low-price pledge to emphasize customer savings when purchasing travel packages.

It was named one of “America’s 100 Best Small Companies” by Forbes magazine.

Rebecca Tonn can be reached at rebecca.tonn@csbj.com or 719-329-5229. Friend her on Facebook.