Breck marketing boost appears to have helped drive tourism |

Breck marketing boost appears to have helped drive tourism

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

The Town of Breckenridge last November pumped an extra $250,000 into its marketing program to combat some dismal-looking lodging numbers ” and the stimulus effort appears to have made a difference.

Town occupancy rates for December were projected to be as much as 14 percent lower than in 2007; the actual numbers came in 8 percent below the previous year.

“The net of it is we ended up as we said our goals were ” to make occupancy drop only half as bad as they appeared at the end of November,” said John McMahon, executive director of the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, the town’s marketing arm.

For January, the occupancy rate was looking to be down as much as 25 percent; the numbers came in 12 percent less than in January 2008.

Town Councilman Rob Millisor said the marketing investment was “money well spent.”

McMahon said much of the town’s stimulus dollars were put into advertising in key destinations such as Dallas and Chicago.

The town also picked up some of the market share from other tourist destinations. He said that if all lodging companies’ shares were to equal $100, for example, then $28 were spent in Breckenridge rather than $25 in the past.

“We historically do better than most of the destinations,” McMahon said. “In our little group of competitors ” such as Aspen and Beaver Creek ” we do the highest.”

He said many competing lodging destinations dropped their average daily rates by as much as 5 percent.

“You hear about all these crazy deals out there,” he said. “Our rate was only about a 1 percent drop in our average daily rate.”

Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said the council was “very impressed” with the BRC efforts.

“Lodging was way down for Christmas week, and after the stimulus, the lodging began to take an uptick,” he said.

McMahon said other factors ” such as the Dew Tour in mid-December ” helped increased visitors, as well.

Cooperation between BRC and Breckenridge Ski Resort also helped.

“Probably more than ever before, the ski resort and BRC really worked as partners,” McMahon said, adding that other entities helped in the effort, as well. “It was really good. The community really came and unified around this campaign.”

The occupancy rate for Presidents’ Day weekend reached more than 90 percent, and there have been a significant number of “walk-ins” over the holiday weekends, he said.

But as for the rest of the ski season, nothing’s certain.

“All of us are really concerned about March right this minute,” McMahon said. “We have never tried to do something during Christmas or spring break. In the past, we’ve had more people than we needed. But this year, it’s our most lucrative time of the year, and we need to make sure to keep our rooms filled.”

He said the competition is fierce this year and “those with the loudest voice are going to be the ones that win.”

Warner said he hopes Mardi Gras and other events coming up will help drive visitors, despite the struggling economy.

“We’re kind of taking it a month at a time, which is a little unusual for us,” he said.

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