Travel agency offers an insider’s look at Park City
The business plan of Jason Linder and Kenzie Coulson’s new online travel agency comes down to a straightforward motto: We know Park City — much better, in fact, than our larger competitors.
The pair recently launched Stay Park City — or stayparkcity.com — a website that attempts to pair guests with the perfect lodging options. The site allows guests to customize their searches based on a number of factors, including location and type of lodging (such as a hotel or condominium). It’s designed to ensure, for example, that a customer looking for lodging within walking distance of skiing doesn’t end up booking a room at Kimball Junction.
That’s a level of customization that large online travel agencies, such as Expedia, doesn’t provide, Linder said.
"Expedia treats Park City just like they do New York or San Francisco," said Linder, Stay Park City’s president. "And Park City is not those places. We have traditional hotels, but we also have condo hotels and condominiums and private homes. And we have very distinct areas, from downtown to Kimball Junction and the surrounding area. Rather than the Expedia once-size-fits-all, ours is very customized to Park City."
Additionally, Stay Park City provides guests with insider knowledge about the town. Each listing is accompanied by a brief description highlighting essential information about each property, so guests know what they’re getting. The website also features recommendations for bars, restaurants and activities to check out.
"We talk from a local and expert voice to give the consumer that inside information they won’t get anywhere else," Linder said. "We say why we like properties, what you should know about them and what you should do while you’re here."
But the website was also designed for easy navigation, so customers never feel overwhelmed with information.
"We make it digestible," said Coulson, Stay Park City’s director. "It’s clean and we have very concise language, because we’re really trying to hit home on what is most relevant and important. At one property, it might be price point, but at another it might be a combination of other factors."
But as beneficial as Coulson and Linder believe the website will be for guests, they say it will also be a boon for the Park City lodging industry. Stay Park City is set up to provide a better experience for hotels than large online travel agencies can offer, said Linder, adding that he has years of experience as a hotelier. As well as claiming to be cheaper than the big sites, Stay Park City will work to find hotels guests during the off seasons.
"I really understand the pain points of working with (those larger sites) and the cost and how they try to force you into their system," he said. "They consider the guest their guest. So we do the exact opposite. We’ve designed it to be advantageous for hotels. It’s the hotel’s guest."
Added Coulson: "It’s by hoteliers for hoteliers. We want the hoteliers to have a lot of power in managing their inventory and their rates and promotions. Within that, they can really control their revenue in a better way."
If Linder and Coulson seem confident about the Stay Park City model, it’s for good reason. The company’s software is what the Sundance Institute has used for several years on its website to help guests find accommodations during the film festival.
It was Linder who pitched the idea to Sundance Institute seven years ago. Coulson, then working for Sundance Institute, helped implement it. Now together, they’ve created Stay Park City to branch into a full-service online travel agency.
"(Sundance) had a very captive audience, they brought in a ton of revenue and the patron wasn’t being serviced very well," Linder said. "It was a city-wide sell-out, and (people) didn’t know how to find a place — they’re calling every hotel in town. And Sundance was not generating a penny off all that.
"Our name was never out there because we’re just the technology behind it," he added. "What we ended up building has been very successful, though."
Stay Park City
A study pegged the number of Sundance Film Festival attendees at 122,313, with the event generating an economic impact of $182.5 million. Both numbers represent a slight decrease from the 2018 festival.