The Park City Chamber/Bureau has big marketing plans up its sleeves in the coming months, building on last year's efforts and adding new bells and whistles to attract visitors. The Annual Marketing Plan, which is formally released during the Annual Meeting, covers how the $3 million marketing budget, roughly 55 percent of the total Chamber/Bureau budget, is spent to promote the resorts and amenities to outside markets.
Using a boost in grant funds awarded by Summit County along with funds from the Utah Office of Tourism and membership investments, the organization will have more to spend on marketing this year than the previous 12 months despite a weak ski season and lower visitor numbers. Skier numbers and visitor nights at hotel and lodging properties were down in the 2011-12 Ski Season, but the county recouped more funding in taxes from the guests that did visit the area, a fact that gives Park City an edge over other markets where that may not be the case, said Park City Chamber/Bureau President and CEO Bill Malone.
"We're going to be out in the marketplace more than the competition," Malone said. We're spending more money on advertising than ever before and we're spending it at a time when some of our competition will probably be cutting back."
The television campaign will focus on the strengths of Park City according to the Chamber/Bureau, the distance between the Salt Lake City International Airport and the three resorts in town. For the first time, the Chamber/Bureau will advertise the Quick START Vacation Program a program that provides free ski passes to guests on the same day as their arrival in the three largest ski markets, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The television campaign, which will be filmed at the start of the next ski season and is scheduled to air for eight weeks starting in January, will feature real interviews of visitors where they tell viewers where they were that morning, all against a backdrop of Park City slopes and amenities.
"To see what the committees have done to pull everything together, I think this gives us a strong marketing program that is not just for today but for our future," said Maxine Turner, co-owner of Cuisine Unlimited and an new chamber board member. "I think that every year presents its challenges whatever comes, the community will figure out the answer."
Among the usual marketing efforts such as print and television campaigns, the Chamber/Bureau plans to expand its efforts, adding focus group research in Aspen and Vail, targeted online marketing, increased attention to international tourism and bolstering the area's image as a business destination for meetings and conventions. The research aspect of the Chamber/Bureau marketing plan would target luxury tourists with the purpose of learning why high dollar guests are choosing locations such as Aspen of Vail. With several luxury properties, from the Waldorf Astoria to the Montage, the Chamber/Bureau hopes to delve further into the luxury market that could bring a substantial amount of tax revenue to the county.
"Almost every other year we do on-mountain intercepting surveys in Park City to see who is coming here, how long they planned to come, their spending habits, all that," Malone said. "In addition to that this year, we wanted to go into other markets we're competing with and see what motivated their customers to go there."
Targeted online advertising, a first for the Chamber/Bureau, increased the online advertising budget by 20 percent and would use Google search terms to find new audiences. Summer and fall tourism is also getting a healthy dose of extra exposure, with targeted advertising along the Wasatch Front and in areas such as Phoenix.
The Chamber/Bureau expects that meetings and conventions will also become a larger part of tourism dollars in the coming months. The first five months of 2012 saw nearly 100 percent more conventions and meetings held in Park City area lodging facilities, a trend the Chamber/Bureau is betting will continue into 2013, with the organization running advertisements in publications such as Smart Meetings and Successful Meetings.
"The strength of the plan is our community partners," said Mike Goar, the most recent Board Chair for the Chamber/Bureau who helped lead the marketing direction for the coming year. "The resorts and businesses, people who volunteer their time to the advisory communities. It's a matter of placing that marketing in strategic locations, putting it in the right place in state and out of state and even internationality.
"We're really trying to hit the right markets."
International tourism continues to grow in Park City, especially in markets such as Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom. As Park City grows relationships with other international destinations, the Chamber/Bureau anticipates capitalizing on incoming tourists from new markets such as China and Russia, bolstering international relationships with in-market representatives, press events and attending travel and trade shows.
"When you look at our messaging, going back 10 years ago and looking at it today, we're just so much more succinct and on target," Malone said.
"We're not trying to say everything to everyone, just saying the right thing to the right person."