It’s difficult to believe that I have been residing in Colorado Springs for nearly two years. I am proud to call this community home and excited with what has been accomplished during my tenure. I’m pleased as I look ahead to 2013, especially after the challenges faced in 2012.
After my hire at the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, one of the first tasks to accomplish was to update our strategic plan, which is common in the business world. We were guided through the process with the help of many in the community, which resulted in objectives consistent with our mission of bringing more visitors to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.
One initiative of the strategic plan points to collaboration and being more of a community leader. One of the most visible projects to take on this role was the development of a regional brand.
After a nearly year-long process, with the help of local brand agency Stone Mantel, that goal was achieved. More than 500 people participated in the development of the brand strategy that revealed our city and region as being vibrant, rugged and exceptional. Working with the local creative community and listening to valuable public feedback resulted in a logo designed by firm Fixer Creative Co. that reflects the brand strategy and provides a strategic platform that many organizations and citizens can use to promote Colorado Springs.
Thanks to the hard work of many, the CVB has fully adopted this strategy and identity system to promote the region to visitors.
After our community branded itself, a fire did the same. The tragic events of the Waldo Canyon fire and the worldwide coverage it received resulted in the misperception that the entire region had burned and our natural beauty had been compromised. The CVB collaborated with multiple organizations that formed a team to help all affected communities keep business doors open and operating, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, retail stores, attractions, activities and service providers.
The team developed a coordinated marketing and communications recovery plan under the umbrella theme of Welcome Back. The campaign’s main focus was to boost economic activity in both the short and long term for the entire region and brand the region as being open for business and open for fun.
The CVB board approved funds from our reserve to be invested in this campaign. Individuals, organizations and companies also generously contributed $64,500 to the effort. With the help of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s office, the CVB secured a $100,000 federal grant to expand the Welcome Back campaign into 2013.
To date the campaign has generated more than 5 million impressions through online and traditional advertising. Traffic to the VisitCOS website has hit record levels and visitor guide orders continue to be strong through November. This additional presence in the market has generated incremental travel this fall and will continue into 2013.
Another important objective of the plan is assessing our internal and external customer base. As we currently are a member-based organization, dues provide a stream of financial support in addition to the Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART).
Many CVBs around the country follow this membership model. One of the challenges with this model is that it represents only CVB members to the visitor or meeting planner. After in-depth analysis by staff and the membership committee, the CVB Board of Directors has voted to move forward with a partnership model. This model allows us to represent the entire region with Marketing Partners (paid) and Community Partners (non-paid).
I believe it is important to highlight the fact that the city entrusts us to be the official marketing arm for travel and tourism to the Pikes Peak region; our community entrusts us to lead the development and execution of a consistent brand strategy; and our partners entrust us to market their businesses effectively. Trust is the driver in all we do at the CVB.
Guided by these strategic initiatives, supported by the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County, and trusted by our partners and residents, your convention and visitors bureau is positioned to welcome back more visitors in 2013 and beyond.
Doug Price, who has more than three decades of experience in hospitality, tourism and marketing, is CEO and president of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.