Breckenridge Chamber holding steady, membership up over 2008
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Resort Chamber is holding steady despite the recession, with membership numbers up slightly over last year.
“We really have planned out this year very carefully,” BRC executive director John McMahon said. “If anything, we feel there’s been pretty good momentum for our organization.”
The chamber has about 416 members, relative to less than 400 in 2008. Its revenue includes membership dues, a fundraiser and finances from the town.
The Summit Chamber was recently forced to lay off its staff because of financial shortages, and the organization’s future is uncertain.
Summit Chamber board president Rob Waterman said about 95 percent of his chamber’s revenue comes from membership dues, and in July about $45,000 was lost because of nonrenewals.
“That was too big a hit, we just couldn’t keep going that way,” he said.
Part of the increased membership at BRC could be attributed to the more than 30 new storefront businesses to open in Breckenridge this year.
The BRC functions to market the town of Breckenridge and its businesses, and host about 12 major events per year – including Breckenridge Oktoberfest and International Snow Sculpture Championships.
The dues are higher: A business with 21 to 30 employees would pay annual fees of $720 to Summit Chamber and $2,012 to BRC.
The BRC recorded record attendance for its 2008-09 events, with more than 193,000 attendees. McMahon said visits to gobreck.com, the BRC website, increased by about 70 percent between June and July.
It has increased its market share by 5.6 percent relative to other Colorado mountain destinations.
Despite the good news, town revenue continues to be down about 20 percent on the year.
The average daily lodging rates have been down by as much as 27 percent for July, according to a report received at the end of June, McMahon said.
He said that as far as occupancy rates, to have the same numbers as last year is “actually a positive thing.”
“We’re preparing ourselves, learning from last year and refining our winter plan right now,” he said. “We’re trying to keep funding close to last year so we don’t lose market share.”
The BRC also operates the Breckenridge Welcome Center, which is up “significantly” over last year, with about 170,000 visits since August 2008.
Sally Croker, the BRC events director, said the chamber’s annual events are scheduled to “stretch the shoulder seasons out.”
“We’re not trying to shoot fish in a barrel,” she said. “We’re trying to look at the big picture.”
Breckenridge Oktoberfest, the chamber’s only annual fundraiser, is its most popular weekend event. The snow sculpture championships, which last two weeks, are the most popular event overall.
The town last year gave the BRC an extra $250,000 for winter marketing, though Vail gave its chamber about $1 million, McMahon said at the annual BRC meeting last week.
“Expect more nail-biting next season,” he said.
Robert Allen can be contacted
at (970) 668-4628 or
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