Colorado Springs has to sell its strengths, local hotel execs say

Colorado Springs hotel sales executives, general managers and event planners rate Colorado Springs high against Vail and Albuquerque, but said the city falls short when compared to Denver, especially in the area of night life.

The group of about 50 hotel sales executives and event planners from the Hospitality, Sales, Marketing Association International local chapter met Wednesday and discussed how Colorado Springs compares to five big competitors – Denver, Albuquerque, N.M., San Diego, Calif., Vail  and Tucson, Ariz. – as a destination. The group ranked Colorado Springs against those five cities in areas of access, climate, dining, recreation, night life and nine other categories.  It was a way to compare strengths and weaknesses and to give those in the industry something to consider when selling Colorado Springs as a destination.

It was an exercise led by Doug Price, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Price spent 18 years with Marriott International, beginning as a sales manager.

“Like all destinations, Colorado Springs has some challenges,” Price said.

It’s best for those in the hotel business to identify strengths and weaknesses and try to understand whether the weaknesses are real or perceived, Price said. For example, one planner said she is constantly talking about the Springs’ great winter climate. Many people interested in booking conventions are more likely to think of Tucson.

“We always want to talk about the pluses as sales people,” Price said. “But, we get paid to deal with the negatives. We have to understand are those real liabilities or are those misunderstandings.”

Climate is actually a great selling point, most said. Where Colorado Springs falls down when compared with Denver is in night life. And, when compared to San Diego it falls short on affordability, they said. But, the group ranked Colorado Springs higher than Albuquerque on image and said the Springs outscores Tucson on dining and recreation.

It’s a great exercise, said Teresa Knox, president of the HSMAI local chapter and senior sales manager at Cheyenne Mountain Resort. If event planners and sales executives understand why people are not choosing Colorado Springs, they may be able to address misconceptions.

“This is how we should be selling  – looking at destinations we compete with an objective eye because it is more than space and rates, it’s about the destination, attraction and accessibility,” Knox said.