The Park City Chamber/Visitors Bureau is putting the word out, the new Visitors Center will host an Open House for its members and the community Thursday, Oct. 4. The event will be the first opportunity for locals to see the $1.3 million space set up and running.
Following more than a year of construction, the 4,000-square-foot center will be decked in its new kiosks and touch screens, its coffee bar and gift shop, all with one goal in mind: get heads on beds. The Visitors Center will serve as a starting point for incoming guests, whether it was a planned stop or not, with the intent to get tourists to spend more in the community, bolstering local businesses.
"We believe strongly in the fact that the people who go to the center will do two things," said PCCVB Executive Director and CEO Bill Malone. "They will stay longer and spend more money. We like both of those."
The Visitors Center was paid for using bonds from lodging taxes through Summit County. Over the next 20 years, the PCCVB will lease the space from Summit County. After the 20 years, the nonprofit will own the space.
The PCCVB will be walking a fine line as their operations expand with the opening of the new Visitors Center, being sure to stay focused on their mission statement to promote local businesses. Some services such as selling maps and potentially hosting events may be considered, but weighed against the intent of the PCCVB and not siphoning dollars away from other businesses.
"We do not want to compete with our members," said Deborah Lewis, the Visitor Services Manager .
Inside, the vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of all three resorts and the Utah Olympic Park. Flat screens deck the walls, cycling through advertisements of local businesses. With free wi-fi and charging stations, tourists will be able to use their handheld devices, the touchscreen computers and Visitor Center employees to figure out what to do and where to go.
"We are doing such things as advertising the center at the baggage carousels in airport and putting a billboard up on 1-80 as people come in from Evanston," Malone said. "We think that the location of where the center is will capture people as they get off the Interstate, people who have never been here, who have never ventured into town."
The center will also capture in coming visitor information, asking guests where they are coming from and how long they are staying, data that the PCCVB will use in the future.
A lot of the plans for the center are still in the works as furniture is still being moved in. Lewis said some of the most important months for the center will not be during the winter, when many tourists have a very detailed itinerary, but rather the summer and shoulder season months when the center may capture more people who do not know everything Park City offers.
"We've had people think Kimball Junction was the downtown area of Park City," Lewis added.
A young married couple on their honeymoon stopped by the temporary visitors center asking what else there was in Park City. After talking to them for a while, Lewis realized they had not driven into Park City limits yet.
"They hadn't scratched the surface," she said.
Kiosks will be leased to interested business, possibly lodging properties that would use the space as a concierge or check-in service or events-based businesses that could sell tickets or offer discounts. The center has 15 part-time employees to help incoming guests, something Lewis intentionally planned so that she was not using volunteers who might be uninformed or full-time staff that could become burned out.
The center is located off of State Road 224 at 1794 Olympic Parkway. The Thursday event will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will include light refreshments and drinks, live music and prizes and giveaways. For more information, visit www.visitparkcity.com.