As weather warms, Park City Chamber/Bureau expects a busy summer | ParkRecord.com

As weather warms, Park City Chamber/Bureau expects a busy summer

After weeks of rain, the sun has finally begun to shine through. For Park City, that means summer tourists are on the way.

But how many of them will there be this year? So far, the Park City Chamber/Bureau doesn’t have much to go on. Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said business travelers coming to town for conventions and meetings make up much of the lodging reservations already on the books. Those coming to town to relax or to hit the mountain trails typically don’t make reservations this early.

"(Bookings) are looking really good," Malone said. "And by that, I mean we are right about where we were at this point in time last year. But a lot of our leisure customers pretty much know that they don’t have to book far in advance. It’s different than winter. Our leisure customer isn’t booking months ahead. Even looking at the times I know we’ll be very busy, like the Fourth of July, we have very little reservations."

Nonetheless, Malone expects it to be a busy summer. He said the season continues to improve for local business, and he has little reason to believe this year will be any different.

"As the economy has improved over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a real growing of our meeting business and conference business," he said. "In many cases, that’s a customer who’s here who has discretionary income to spend for recreational activities or group activities. That’s where the growth has been."

The Chamber/Bureau is hoping to entice similar growth in the amount of leisure travelers. The Chamber/Bureau attends wedding conventions throughout the country to continue to make inroads in that market, which is rapidly expanding in town, Malone said.

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Additionally, the Chamber/Bureau has invested in an advertising campaign that spans television, digital and print media. But in contrast to winter advertising, in which the Chamber/Bureau runs TV commercials in cities such as New York City, Atlanta and Houston, the summer efforts cover a much more localized footprint.

"There will be regional ads in the Salt Lake market that reaches Idaho and all of the state of Utah, but we’re also doing targeted TV ads with DirecTV in Southern California and Northern California," Malone said, also mentioning advertisements in several travel and culinary magazines. "That pretty much eats up the summer budget."

Malone said it’s important to aggressively advertise because competition for summer tourists is fierce — much more so, in fact, than c for winter visitors.

"When it comes to summer, there’s just a wider variety of choices," Malone said. "If you’re looking for a ski vacation, there’s probably 16 places in the Western U.S. that you’re choosing from. When it comes to summer, it’s everything from mountains to beach to amusement parks to places on the water and national parks."

Even if the Chamber/Bureau’s marketing campaign works, its full effect might not show up in the lodging reservation numbers. Malone said many summer tourists come to town for the day but don’t stay overnight, which can make tracking the number of visitors tricky.

"The summer guest is vastly different compared to what we have in the winter," he said. "We have overnight summer guests and we have day summer guests. Sometimes it feels more busy in town than it is for hotels. It may be busy for restaurants and shops because we have guests who just come for the day and then leave."

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