Resorts already targeting convention-goers
January 14, 2007
DENVER One in three conventioneers who visit Denver extends his or her stay to include at least a day or two of leisure time from a quick trip to Red Rocks Amphitheatre or a round of golf and dinner in Vail.The Estes Park Convention & Visitors Bureau is already working on luring to the mountains some of the 35,000 attendees expected to descend on Denver 19 months from now for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.Weve actually had our eye on it for several months, said Suzy Blackhurst, communications coordinator for the bureau. Estes Park is the No. 1 stop for pre- and post-convention tours in the state. We should see an economic boost; how big it is depends on what promotions we are able to put into place.Blackhurst said they are designing packages specifically for the visiting Democratic delegates and international media. The bureau also plans to add a page to its Web site detailing different vacation options for the group.Estes Park and other tourism hot spots are helped by the timing of the event, which is scheduled for the week leading up to the long Labor Day holiday weekend.For most Colorado mountain resorts, Labor Day is traditionally a busy weekend. It falls this year on Sept. 3.Bill Tomcich, president of central reservations agency Stay Aspen/Snowmass, said the area is typically at least 90 percent booked over Labor Day, in large part because of the four-day Jazz Aspen Snowmass music festival, which attracts thousands of concertgoers.He said he has not yet received any inquiries about lodging for Labor Day 2008, but that he does expect to pick up some extra business from the Democratic convention.It is obviously going to create some tremendous opportunities for us, he said.According to AAA Colorado, the top Labor Day in-state destinations last year were Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Denver and Aspen. Colorados Rocky Mountain National Park hosted 65,000 visitors through its three main gates over the three-day weekend last year, up from 55,000 during the same time in 2005.The Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau said it plans to discuss its marketing strategies for the Democratic convention at an upcoming monthly meeting.Lodging incentives, packages inclusive to entertainment, activities and culinary experiences are all possible marketing ploys on the table for discussion, said spokeswoman Monica McCafferty.The Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau has a standard package in place for all visiting conventioneers through Broomfield-based Vail Resorts Inc. that offers discounts on lodging in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. Twenty convention groups have taken advantage of the offer in the past 18 months, according to the bureau.Colorado saw a total of 22.5 million overnight visitors in 2005, who spent $8.2 billion in the state.