Winter tourism in the Springs: Low-key marketing, cheaper prices

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While summer is the busiest tourism season in Colorado Springs, winter doesn’t equal hibernation. Marketing moves toward group visits and away from leisure travel, and some professionals think that Colorado Springs is fortunate to be away from the busy ski slopes.

Winter season in lodging relies on local and regional leisure travelers and the conference business, says Ann Alba, resident manager of The Broadmoor and president of the Pikes Peak Lodging Association

“We are fortunate to be on the ‘Colorado Springs side of the mountain,’ she says. “Typically Colorado is perceived as a high priced and crowded ski-centric destination, but in the winter we have the benefit of offering a seasonal rate adjustment and still provide a diverse assortment of attractions. Marketing the Pikes Peak Region in our off season is all about the experience of coming to our area at value prices.”

At the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, the group focuses on those conference and business travelers that might be more value-conscious, but are also looking to get away without the crowds headed to the ski resorts.

The switch has as much to do with budget constraints as it does with the city’s location, says Chelsy Offutt, communications director for the CVB.

“We do put it out there on social media that visitors can fly into Colorado Springs and take the back way to the resorts, avoiding I-70,” she said. “And we want them to stop, of course, spend the night, see some of our attractions before they head up to the ski resorts. We think we’re a good location for families to visit to see more of Colorado than just the resorts.”

But winter tourism isn’t the CVB’s main focus, she said.

“We don’t have a chunk of marketing dollars we spend to reach those visitors,” she said. “With our budget, we have to choose where to market very wisely. Since summer is our busiest season, we put our focus there and on the group meetings. We do very well there.”

But they do continue to promote the city as a place for conferences, business meetings, seminars, class reunions and other group meetings, she said. And the effort can pay off, says Alba.

“Based on group business, the offerings can be quite appetizing, as availability, rates and added inclusions are more negotiable,” she said. ” There are several large conferences who choose this area as a long-standing tradition based on these factors. With that, the whole area reaps the benefit, as many hotels fill with the increased demand and spin off business. These legacy groups are very important.  Strong relationships over the years result in annual business, which cannot be taken for granted.”

And the lodging association targets the drive-in market during the holidays — drawn in by package deals and less expensive rates.

“The majority of lodging establishments in the Pikes Peak Region offer a plethora of Holiday packages November through January, creating memories for families throughout the generations,” Alba said. ” As the drive-in market is heavily targeted, last minute enticements can also be communicated for the need period and short-term business impacts. Those who choose the fall /winter seasons have found the advantage of making it an annual tradition.”

See the Nov. 13 issue Business Journal to read about how the Springs is a big market for the ski resorts.