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Re-examining the market

In his recent article in The Denver Post entitled “Identity Crisis Taxes Aspen,” reporter Jason Blevins left me with a great impression – Aspen may be trying to be more like us.

Actually, some of the current similarities are not a surprise. Sales tax revenues have declined significantly, real estate prices are flat or increasing slightly, shopkeepers and restaurateurs are suffering and there is a desire to bring more multiple-day events into the mix to draw destination visitors to relieve this stress.

Aspen is doing exactly what many of us are doing now – re-examining the market place to determine the best way to respond.



Blevins’ article mentions that Aspen picked up the ESPN X-Games that drew a young crowd of over 50,000 to the town.

He describes some of these visitors as young folks who don’t mind spending $200 per night for a room as long as they can pack the room with friends who all order fast-food takeout – not exactly your stereotypical Aspen guest.



With our drop in destination visitors, we, too, have experienced a different mix of guests that has changed the economic landscape here in Summit County. Like Aspen, we’re struggling to determine what should be done about that.

Even with these similarities, our challenges are a bit different. Aspen doesn’t have major metropolitan areas near it to draw day skiers and riders.

We’ve done a good job of promoting ourselves to these crowds and we now have to examine how we make this changed economic landscape sustainable. Along with that, we need to find creative ways to draw destination visitors – methods that are likely different from those we’ve been using.

You never realized how important those marketing classes were!

Our friends in Aspen are on to something we may want to study. The largest development boon in that town has been timeshare projects, or “fractional vacation ownership opportunities.”

These owners are destination visitors who will visit repeatedly and, with any luck, act like destination visitors. The St. Regis Aspen Hotel will spend $38 million to convert 98 rooms into 24 timeshare condos in the coming years.

While I realize that we’re not likely to see the same clients the St. Regis sees, I bet there’s a market to look at, especially if our hotels are having problems filling beds.

It could be a win-win for everyone – additional second-home development for multiple tenants with no adverse impact on open space. What could be better than that?

Jack Taylor is executive director of the Summit County Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at (970) 668-2051 or jack@summitchamber.org.


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