Park City Chamber/Bureau designs marketing plan to extend town’s reach
Organization will flood new markets with TV ads, hopes to draw more millennials
After two consecutive busy winters that saw occupancy rise in Park City and broke statewide records for skier days, it’s obvious the Park City Chamber/Bureau’s marketing strategy is working.
But with dozens of resort towns in the West vying for the same visitors, and in a business where a few months of scarce snowfall can scuttle a season, resting on your laurels is a fast way to fall behind.
That’s why the Chamber/Bureau is making some major tweaks to its marketing plan that have been months in the making, as officials announced Wednesday at the organization’s annual meeting at the Park City Marriott.
An overhaul of the Chamber/Bureau’s approach to television advertising is one of the most notable changes. A year after running TV spots in San Francisco for the first time — to successful results — the organization is expanding its presence to three other new markets: Houston, Boston and Washington, D.C., which all have strong economies and young populations with disposable incomes. The campaigns in those cities will supplement the existing efforts in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago.
To make inroads in those new regions, the Chamber/Bureau is pressing pause on its TV campaign in New York City for a year. The organization has a strong foothold in the Big Apple, and officials think they can maintain Park City’s presence there this winter through a surge in digital advertising.
The overarching goal is to bring as many first-time visitors to Park City as possible, said Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau. Because if they come once, they’re likely to come again.
That’s also why the Chamber/Bureau is making its first foray into the Southeast. It’s a part of the country that isn’t as obvious of a market as the Northeast or West, but Park City’s tourism officials have long wanted to make inroads there. The organization will hold media tours in places like Charlotte, North Carolina; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta; Miami and Jacksonville in an effort to get publications to feature stories about traveling to Park City.
“New markets are important for us,” Malone said.
But as critical as it is to reach people in new places, bringing a younger demographic to Park City has become equally vital. Malone said that, while baby boomers still represent a large chunk of Park City’s tourism business, millennials are representing a bigger slice of the market every year.
That trend brings distinct challenges. Compared to their parents or generation Xers, millennials typically take shorter ski vacations, meaning Park City has to attract more of them to keep occupancy numbers up. And doing that requires rethinking the Chamber/Bureau’s marketing philosophy because millennials are motivated by different factors than previous generations, Malone said.
Specifically, they want to visit places that offer the kinds of authentic experiences they can’t get anywhere else. Young travelers want to live like a local for a few days while they’re in town, then return home with plenty of stories to share.
That’s why the Chamber/Bureau in recent years has altered its messaging across all platforms to highlight the kinds of adventures that can be had in Park City. As part of that, the organization revamped its website last year and has made a push to create digital content focusing on stories of local artisans, restaurants and other unique aspects of the town.
Those efforts have paid off, Malone said, as research has shown that the Chamber/Bureau’s website has boosted the average length of stay among users because it introduces them to new activities and places of interest. Building on that will be crucial in the coming years.
“You have to do more and talk more about the experience and the vibe and everything in the community,” Malone said. “People are really buying an experience. It’s not just going someplace and taking a picture of it. They want to eat local, they want locally sourced products. We have to tweak our messaging in order to appeal to that customer.”
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After a ski season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, action will soon return to Park City’s mountains.