Dew Tour’s TV presence spells marketing magic for Breckenridge Ski Resort
At the Dew Tour, fresh snow is both a blessing and a curse.
Take the slopestyle finals last Sunday: American-born Olympians Gus Kenworthy and Chas Guldemond stood huddled against the cold before their gold-medal runs, all but praying for the spring-like conditions they enjoyed during the semifinals on Thursday and Friday.
Yet behind the cameras, organizers couldn’t have been more elated. Thanks to coverage on NBC and NBC Sports — not to mention online streaming through the Dew Tour website — millions of TV viewers across the globe saw white gold covering the resort slopes and town far below.
“It’s been a staple of our marketing plan for ages, since long before the Dew Tour with things like the Grand Prix,” says Kristen Pettit Stewart, the senior communications manager for Breckenridge Ski Resort. “We’ve always tried to have an early-season event to show people that Colorado has snow.”
It’s the kind of marketing boost only Mother Nature can provide, and as the Americans swept the slopestyle podium, new snow provided a final exclamation point for one of the town’s marquee early-winter events. Now in its 10th season at Breckenridge, the Dew Tour drew more than 20 Sochi athletes and roughly 40,000 spectators during four days of competition. Behind the scenes, snowcats and snowmakers also put on a show to build the massive, pro-level slopestyle course and superpipe — two of the resort’s other go-to marketing tools.
“If someone is at home and watching this beautiful pipe, we want them to see the same thing when they come here,” Stewart says. “There might be a 10-year-old out there who’s the next superstar, and we don’t want it to be closed when he shows up.”
But a long, lengthy gap between the Thanksgiving snowstorms and the weekend dumps didn’t deter spectators. While this year’s attendance numbers were on par with the 2013 Dew Tour, Breckenridge lodges saw a slight boost. As of Nov. 30, reservations leading into the event week had increased 5 to 8 percent compared with the same time last year, according to figures gathered by the town’s marketing and events bureau, Go Breck.
“From an economic perspective, this event comes at a time that we otherwise wouldn’t have this kind of impact,” says Rachel Zerowin, director of public relations for GoBreck. “We tend to see it in lodging, in businesses on Main Street — just throughout the community.”
The big players
Since 2012, Breckenridge has been the only winter Dew Tour stop. The tour was once spread among three resorts, including two events later in the ski season, but tour officials wanted to consolidate. Breckenridge won the bid in 2012 and is committed to the tour at least through 2015.
“They’ve put a lot more energy and a lot more effort into just one event,” says Kim Dykstra, the town’s director of communications, who compares Dew Tour to the internationally televised USA Pro Challenge bike race in August. “We look at those two as major events that have an impact on our community as a whole, not just the ski area.”
The Dew Tour’s early-season timing is no coincidence. Like this year’s gap between snowstorms, the weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas are a major unknown for the resort and local lodges.
A portion of the lodging boost comes directly from the tour’s broadcast parent, NBC and Alli Sports.
Last season, the Alli Sports team purchased more than 1,400 room nights (a single room for a single night) at $130 per night for film and production crews. The rates were discounted, but it still pumped nearly $182,000 into the local economy through lodging alone.
“It’s not only the spectators,” Zerowin says. “That’s one piece of it, but you have athletes, crew, production, sponsors — all these people descending on Breckenridge. It has a pretty powerful impact on the town.”
Although final numbers haven’t been released, representatives with Alli Sports say this year’s room-night total is similar to 2013.
The town also chips in for lodging. This year, the town purchased 750 room nights with dedicated funds from the marketing budget, coming to a total of $97,500. All nights went to Dew Tour staff. As part of the town’s contract, similar funds have already been committed to the 2015 tour at the rate of $135 per room night, a $5 bump requested by partner lodges.
The Dew Tour also fits comfortably into the town’s holiday calendar. It’s an adrenaline-packed compliment to family-friendly events like the Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas, both held a weekend before the event comes to town.
“Breckenridge has established itself as a place that’s very well known for its events,” Zerowin says. “We have so many events, and Dew Tour certainly adds to that bigger picture in a way none of the other events do.”
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