Chamber/Bureau says Park City is going full steam ahead
Even after a fiscal year dampened by not enough snow falling down, things are looking up.
That was the message the Park City Chamber/Bureau shared with members at its 2015 Annual Meeting, held Wednesday afternoon at the Park City Marriott. The Chamber/Bureau delivered its report on the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which ran from July 2014 through June 2015, and also outlined its marketing strategy for the year ahead.
According to Chamber/Bureau data, overnight visitation for the 2014-2015 fiscal year was down 1.1 percent from the previous year (though June 2015’s numbers were not included). Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said the slight drop was largely due to the warm weather last winter but added that several different measures, on the other hand, showed increased interest in the town.
More people visited the Chamber/Bureau’s website, visitparkcity.com, in 2014 than in 2013, and the organization’s social media presence — an important marketing tool — grew by leaps and bounds — by 124 percent on Instagram, for example.
Additionally, visitors who came to town tended to crack open their pocketbooks, Malone said.
"The fact that we were down as much as were in snowfall and slightly down in skier days, but occupancy was almost flat and tax revenues climbed was big," Malone said in an interview with The Park Record. "It seems like the people who did come spent money. I don’t know if we can do too many of those years back-to-back, but it was a pretty good year, considering the snowfall."
The Chamber/Bureau also unveiled its strategy for luring more people to town during the 2015-2016 fiscal year — a plan that may have immediate effects.
The organization recently launched a new summer marketing campaign that includes a 30-second TV commercial that will air in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, as well as in the Wasatch Front.
"Summer is just going to keep getting better and better for us," Malone said. "I think people are starting to recognize that we’re a great summer destination, and that there’s a lot of things to do here. So if we can keep the momentum going, we’ll be set for this next year."
The marketing plan includes several other aspects as well. Advertisements in magazines, such as Outside and Bon Appétit, are designed to persuade affluent families to hop an airplane for a ski vacation, while the Chamber/Bureau also hosts media outreach tours to entice travel journalists to write positive stories about Park City.
But the biggest marketing tool at the Chamber/Bureau’s disposal remains the resorts themselves. Malone said Vail Resorts spending more than $50 million on capital improvements — including a gondola that will link Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort to create the largest ski area in the U.S. — and Deer Valley Resort investing money to ensure its reputation as a first-class destination speaks volumes.
"The fact they’re spending so much money on the ski product is not going to go unseen," he said. "The resorts are going to be out there telling that story."
The gondola merging PCMR and Canyons Resort will bring about one significant change for the Chamber/Bureau, however. It must find a new message to replace its oft-touted claim that skiers in town can find three world-class resorts.
Malone said the Chamber/Bureau is hosting focus groups to research how the change will influence how people perceive Park City so it can create a new message that packs the same punch.
"It’s about getting a good feel of how we can message that, how we craft it," he said. "It’s important."
All of the news the Chamber/Bureau shared at the meeting points to a strong year. If Mother Nature cooperates, Malone said, plenty of visitors will be packing the town’s lodging and dotting the slopes this winter.
"I just think we’re the preeminent place to go and spend your money on a ski vacation," he said. "The quality of the product, in terms of the skiing and dining and retail just keeps getting better, which speaks for itself. I think we’re the envy of a lot of mountain resort towns."
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