Durango Welcome Center marks first year

The Durango Welcome Center just celebrated its first anniversary. With foot traffic averaging 15,000 people per month, it has proved to be quite the resource for our visitors and locals.

Throughout the month of May, I joined our Welcome Center Hosts to interact with visitors and assess their needs. It was eye-opening to witness the diversity of visitors and their requests for information.

In one afternoon, I met travelers from Germany, France, Russia, Korea and Belgium and domestic visitors from California, Louisiana and Florida. It was also exciting to observe the visitors’ enthusiasm as they learned how much there is to do here and that they “should’ve planned more time for their stay in Durango.”

In one case, when we informed a traveling couple of the many locations to view and shop for authentic Native American art, artifacts and jewelry right in town, they decided to stay an additional night. This is our goal – to enhance and extend visitor stay, increase visitor spending, entice a return visit and encourage referral.

The Durango Area Tourism Office communicates the diversity and abundance of activities available to the potential visitor with a new tag line, “A Dozen Vacations in One Destination.” To fully discover Durango, you’ll need to plan more time here.

At the Welcome Center, we are also able to reach our potential visitors through our call center where we assist with travel planning inquiries. Most recently, we responded to questions about fires in other areas of Colorado. While we expressed compassion and concern for those affected by the fires, it was an opportunity to communicate to the caller that we were experiencing clear, sunny days with bluebird skies and cool mountain nights and that summer was in full swing with a wide array of activities to experience.

Special events also provide an opportunity to reach visitors. We recently partnered with the Durango Youth Soccer Association Durango Shootout to encourage teams and their families to experience the downtown attractions during the tournament weekend. Registration for the 148-team tournament was held at the Welcome Center. As a result, local businesses reported greatly increased foot traffic and sales from tournament attendees.

We are excited to collaborate with the community to welcome our guests and create an exciting, memorable experience during their stay. I’d like to thank our Welcome Center partners, Fort Lewis College, city of Durango, the Business Improvement District and FASTSIGNS, for their contributions to the success of the Welcome Center.

Please join Team Durango to receive our monthly e-newsletter by emailing teamdurango@durango.org.

Patti O’Brien is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office. DATO is a nonprofit that promotes Durango’s and La Plata County’s tourism attractions. DATO is funded by a lodgers tax collected on lodging rooms in Durango and La Plata County. O’Brien can be reached at director@durango.org or 247-3500.