Meeting Planners Were Here Last Week
TELLURIDE – Nearly 400 tourism and hospitality professionals from across the state will convene in Mountain Village and Telluride for this week’s three-day Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference, where they attend a selection of educational seminars, presentations and panel discussions that cover a wide range of topics.
The conference comes on the heels of a summit that brought together meetings and events planners and representatives of Colorado destination communities last week, which gave the Mountain Village and Telluride a similar opportunity to demonstrate what it can do for business groups.
This week’s Governor’s Conference kicked off on Wednesday, Oct. 2, with afternoon registration at the Telluride Conference Center and a block party on Main Street that evening, complete with live music and beer provided by the Telluride Brewing Company.
The annual conference is usually attended by Gov. John Hickenlooper, but he will miss it this year due to the recent floods on the Front Range.
Last year, the Telluride Tourism Board, competed against other Colorado destination communities by submitting an application to host the 2013 conference. Having won the bid, this marks the first time Telluride and Mountain Village will host the event.
TTB President and CEO Michael Martelon said this week that the conference offers an opportunity to promote Telluride and Mountain Village as year-round destinations, even though many of those attending the conference are competitors from other Colorado resort destinations.
“We’ve never [hosted the governor’s conference] before,” said Martelon. “We’re putting our best foot forward in front of all the destinations that consumers can choose from in Colorado.”
Martelon added that the governor’s tourism conference could not be hosted here without the conference center and hotel capacity available in Mountain Village.
The governor’s conference comes at a time when Telluride and Mountain Village typically experience an economic lull before the holidays.
Sarah McLean, senior group sales manager for TTB, says that the conference will produce immediate positive impacts for the region. “Two hotels and our conference center in the Village are booked solid,” she said, “and we have quite a number of attendees who are staying over the weekend.”
“This is a golden opportunity for Telluride and Mountain Village and it happens at a golden time,” said Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser, referring to the peak foliage that occurs in early October and provides visitors with an especially scenic atmosphere in the region.
Fraser agreed with Martelon in saying that the conference will expose the region to a large number of tourism and hospitality industry specialists at a time when destination and resort communities in Colorado are working to diversify their economies to avoid the economic slowdown during the shoulder seasons.
“People are going to be able to hear how we’ve nearly achieved this goal of having a year-round sustainable economy,” said Fraser. “They’re trying to get where we are… Telluride’s summer sales tax revenues are greater than the revenues generated in the winter months.”
While many of the attendees are coming from competing destinations, he added, “If we can get more people to visit Colorado, we all win.”
In addition to the discussion seminars, conference-goers will attend a plethora of other events, including wine and spirit tastings, dinners and luncheons and a golf challenge.
Off-Season-Turned Conference Season
Last week’s Meeting Planners International-Colorado Destinations Summit, brought a total of 35 high-profile meeting and event planners and representatives of destination resorts from around the state to Mountain Village. The aim of the conference was to allow Colorado destinations, including Telluride and Mountain Village, to pitch their locations for corporate events.
The planners who attended represent large companies including the Rainmaker Companies, the Lane Group and H.D. Vest Financial Services.
While Telluride and Mountain Village pitched alongside the other destinations to the events planners, the summit gave the towns and the Telluride Tourism Board an opportunity to demonstrate by example the benefits of hosting large corporate events here.
“Bringing the event planners to Telluride and showcasing it is priceless to us,” said McLean. “Our aim is to show Telluride as a destination. Many other ski towns, like Vail, don’t even have a conference center. So being able to show what Telluride is capable of in terms of hosting events and conferences is a great opportunity for us.”
The competition to host the summit is as fierce as hosting the Governor’s Tourism Conference. Aspen hosted the summit last year.