The Telluride and Mountain Village Visitor and Convention Bureau presented its draft marketing plan for 2005 to the Mountain Village Town Council on Tuesday. The CVB board reviewed the plan on Wednesday.
Some CVB board members asked pointed questions Wednesday: whether underlying assumptions in the plan are correct, for example, the assumption that Telluride draws a different type of visitor in summer and winter. Others said that the slogan "Only in Telluride" fails to communicate anything specific to differentiate Telluride from its competitor resorts.
"What we have in front of us is the best product based on the best information that we have now," said CVB President Bill Marshall. "Will it be better? Absolutely. But based on the information that we do have and the collective brain trust of everybody on the marketing committee, this is what we think is the best direction for the organization."
Target markets in the draft plan remain the same next year as they were this year: the air markets of Houston and Phoenix and the drive markets of Colorado's Front Range, Texas and Arizona, with the addition of Southern California, due to new direct air service from LA to Montrose. Next year's media buy will be based on visitor surveys that should be fully analyzed by January. A direct mail campaign is being developed in partnership with festivals and American Express.
The goal is an increase of five percent in lodging tax revenue.
"That may not sound like much, but considering that we've been down, we want to get the arrow pointing back up," CVB President Bill Marshall told the Mountain Village Council.
One reason lodging tax revenues have been flat is a drop in average daily rate, Marshall allowed, but it is more important to focus on the bottom line, regardless of whether it is achieved by increasing occupancy or by increasing ADR. The CVB will focus on a high-end market, though, to try to push ADR upward.
"Only in Telluride" will remain the basis of the campaign for at least one more year, with new images. "Whether it will continue after 2005, I don't know," Marshall said. "That's a question the marketing committee will be wrestling with because if we want to change it for 2006 we need to start soon."
"We had a pretty darn good year in the group sales effort," Marshall said, "considering we didn't have our director of sales on the job until January."
Approximately 6,600 rooms will have been booked in 2004 for 2004 and the future.
The target of 3,800 booked rooms for 2005 is less than what was booked in 2004, due to a huge sale to the Ayn Rand Society that will sell out the town for four days in 2007.
A major goal is to develop a system for more accurate reports of how the region is doing in terms of visitor nights, CVB President Bill Marshall said.
Up or Down?
Calls to Telluride Central Reservations are down 35 percent, but calls to the air desk, which books air travel in association with lodging, are up significantly, Barbara Clarke of Ski.com told the board of the Telluride and Mountain Village CVB board on Wednesday. Clarke said she could not provide more detailed reports due to a technology problem. But what little she did report provoked a lengthy discussion about whether the shortfall in calls was worrisome and the chronic difficulty the CVB has in gathering and reporting advance bookings.
The CVB does not do marketing to drive calls to central reservations in winter, CVB Executive Director Leary O'Gorman explained, which would have some effect on call volume. "We think properties are doing more of their own marketing," Clarke added. Preseason sales by Telski are up in all categories and all markets, Telski CEO Ray Jacobi reported. Meanwhile, an informal poll of lodging representatives at the meeting suggested that advance bookings by local lodging companies are up considerably over last year.
"It's hard to believe we're sitting here wondering what's happening this winter," said board member Stu Fraser. "We've been having this discussion forever. We've got to get to the point where we can project how we'll do the coming winter at this time of year."
A number of board members expressed frustration at their inability to know with any confidence how the winter is shaping up.
"We are working very diligently to put together a thirty-, sixty-, ninety-day lodging forecast," CVB President Bill Marshall said. "Then we'll be able to tell how we're doing."
Almost all of the accommodations companies in the region have also agreed to report their daily revenues and occupancy rates every night, Marshall said.
The board asked CVB staff to pull together information from various sectors – lodging, air, ski company sales, restaurants – to produce a report prior to next month's meeting.
Merger on Hold
Misgivings about merging the Telluride Ski and Golf Co. website and the Telluride and Mountain Village CVB website have thwarted the merger for this year. A CVB committee is hoping to resolve the questions related to costs, advertising on the site, and ownership of data so that the two websites can be merged next year, committee member Mollye Wolahan told the CVB board on Wednesday.
The CVB had announced at its annual meeting this fall that it was ready to go live with the merged website, but a number of CVB board members later objected that too many questions remained unanswered for the merger to go forward.
Visitor Guide Contract to Be Awarded
The Telluride and Mountain Village CVB has received two responses to its request for proposals to publish its annual visitors guide. One is from Telluride Publishing, which has published the guide in the past; the other is from the Glen Group, which operates the CVB and Telski websites.
The CVB hopes to gain ownership and control of the content of the visitors guide. Telluride Publishing has told the CVB that it will continue publishing a visitors guide, whether it is awarded a contract from the CVB or not. The board agreed to weigh details contained in the two proposals in an executive session and decide which bid to accept, though there was a stated preference to award it to the local company if possible.