Estes Park is a 6 square mile town located 70 miles (about one hour and 40') northwest of Denver at an elevation of 7,522 feet. It counts 150 lodging establishments that offer 2,600 rooms and has been defined the YMCA of the Rockies with 219 cabins that can house 4-88 people each for a total of 476 rooms.
With 7 private campgrounds and 5 Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) campgrounds, 577 summer sites and 186 winter sites, as well as 2 Roosevelt National Forest campgrounds, this is a perfect location for outdoor recreational activities. The RMNP includes 355 miles of hiking trails and can be used for cross country skiing, rock climbing, and fishing.
As well, the town's 20,000 sq. ft. conference facility with an 8,000 sq. ft. ballroom can serve as many as 10,000 people.
We met recently with the town's Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to talk about how to increase the tax base to enhance the lives of all residents. Tourism is the major vehicle for this endeavor. The town wants to balance the ability to draw more visitors with the desires and needs of the town's residents.
As you can see in the brief we put together, we identified four market segments: (1) day trippers; (2) touring vacationers; (3) conventioneers; and (4) destination vacationers.
I will be focusing the strategy on expanding the existing branding efforts for the last two groups: people who travel to a remote location for meetings and those who choose the destination for a quiet vacation. Both groups can potentially increase the revenues the most with the least disruption to the town. The key message points to convey in all our branding activities will be:
- This is a premier mountain resort -- the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park
- You will find a broad range of activities and amenities -- the healthy lifestyle approach
- You will feel part of a community that protects the natural environment -- sustainability
Marketing to Women (destination vacationers)
It's no secret that most of the purchasing decisions in the US are made by women. Especially for big ticket items, like vacations, women have a high influence over the choices that families and couples make. The quaint bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodations are an easy attraction for couples and families that want to leave it all behind.
In turn, once these vacationers spend time in the town, enjoying the amenities, the quiet surroundings and the dining, they will more likely spread the word to their friends and colleagues. Word of mouth is a very powerful way to entice first time visitors. That can be encouraged with visitors' entries in the B&B blogs -- for example, the Mountain Valley Home B&B Inn could allow guests to post their experiences online in real time.
I would employ a more robust public relations strategy to reach out to a number of vacation web sites and lifestyle magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living, Gourmet, and perhaps throw in a few more like O and other lifestyle magazines with features like the "hot weekend" retreat.
Reaching the Outdoors and the Retreat People (conventioneers)
The town's selling points with these groups are the recreational parks and campgrounds. It is customary for many companies to have annual sales meetings (retreat) in out-of-the-way places. Some industries have these meetings yearly -- large printing and inventory fulfillment companies; insurance and financial services; agrichemical and chemical companies are a few examples. It is the job of assistants and sometimes communications staff to propose the location of the site. This is your marketing audience.
During off site meetings, strategies for the following year are set, recognitions are awarded to support teams and individuals, and group recreation activities help the organization employees bond and renew. The town's parks would be a great setting for people to choose among fishing, hiking, and outdoors for a half day of R&R.
Here I would employ direct marketing to reach the top administrative and communications staff at those industries by SIC code. Once permission is obtained to begin a dialogue on the location for the sales or company meeting, we can follow up with a link rich email that details: ease of transportation from local airports and in town; lodging facilities; restaurants; outdoor activities, etc.
The company award is a subset of the company retreat. For its best sales people, the company awards an all-paid package for the sales person and family to Estes Park at a value of $$$. In this case, the inquiry would be via direct marketing to National Sales Directors, VP of Sales and Marketing and combinations of those titles, as well as their support staff.
Word of mouth and repeat visits can be the result of this move as families who come here with an award package may decide to come back as destination vacationers if their experience is good.
This is a unique small town that can put you in touch with big nature. I would capitalize on that. Use word of mouth references, testimonials, first person stories as much as possible in your public relations and direct marketing activities -- ideally aggregated into one single place. And reach out specifically to the two groups of visitors who can do the most to enhance the town's tax base with the least disruption.
See more suggestions at Branding Wire. You will notice that each of my colleagues has a different angle. Visit Patrick Schaber, Lewis Green, Kevin Dugan, Steve Woodruff, Becky Carroll, Drew McLellan, Martin Jelsema, Gavin Heaton, and Derrick Daye for a tour of the possibilities.