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Looking Ahead to 2020: Visit Durango’s new initiatives

Visit Durango’s mission is to promote visitation to Durango and La Plata County, drive economic impact and support a positive visitor experience. In 2020, the organization will continue shifting from a purely destination marketing organization to destination marketing and management.

Bowman

This intentional shift includes enhanced collaboration with the community and city and county governments to elevate the customer experience. In the evolution from being an information curator to an experience curator, Visit Durango will prioritize sustainable economic growth and support positive experiences for both visitors and locals alike.

As a first initiative to further enhance the customer experience in 2020, Visit Durango will utilize and promote the Colorado Concierge Training program introduced by the Colorado Tourism Office. This is a new platform aimed at turning frontline hospitality staff into Colorado experts and training them in “Colorado-style” customer service. The program is designed to disperse and inspire visitors to seek out more experiences in the state’s lesser-known destinations, to generate powerful word-of-mouth referrals and generate even more ancillary economic impact from visitors. “Our goal is to transform service counters across the state into concierge desks,” said CTO Director Cathy Ritter. This training is free and available online for all Colorado businesses.

In time for National Tourism Week in May, the Durango Welcome Center staff will again offer a Frontline Open House. This event is designed to encourage frontline staff working for lodging, dining, attractions and other tourism-related businesses/activities to discover the Durango Welcome Center and all the amazing resources it offers for visitors and locals alike. On track to have assisted over 128,000 visitors in 2019, the Welcome Center is an asset the community should know, use and celebrate.

Visit Durango will also adopt and promote the Leave No Trace – Care for Colorado Principles, developed through a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Colorado Tourism Office and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, to educate travelers and reduce impact on Southwest Colorado’s special places. According to a joint press release issued by the CTO, the Leave No Trace partnership is aimed at guiding travelers to show care for our state’s water, land and wildlife. So far, the CTO has reached millions of travelers by promoting the Care for Colorado Principles in Colorado Welcome Centers, the state’s annual vacation guide, social media channels and more.

A key component for managing responsible sustainable growth for the Durango area is balancing visitation through promotion. DATO’s marketing campaigns will reflect an even stronger focus on year-round elements, with emphasis on non-peak seasonal travel activities and offerings.

Also part of the 2020 marketing/sales strategy, Visit Durango will continue to target small meetings/reunions/sporting events on a year-round basis through direct sales, tradeshows and the new Bring It Home campaign. Bring It Home is designed to enlist community members to bring in reunions, weddings and events by offering free services such as help with selecting lodging, dining, activities, facilities and unique venues throughout the area.

The new Visit Durango website will launch in late October and the new Travel Planner will be available in early 2020. Most destination marketing organizations will complete one or the other of these massive projects every few years. The Visit Durango team took the challenge to complete both of these assets in 2019 to kick-start the strategy shift from destination marketing to marketing and management.

These new tools and initiatives in 2020 will afford Visit Durango the ability to be much more strategic and effective with marketing, sales and PR campaigns. While the addition of 273 new rooms in the first quarter of 2020 will certainly be an added benefit to visitors, at the same time, an increase in room inventory at this level will present an additional challenge to the Visit Durango team in their ability to increase levels of occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per room in 2020.

Finally, please join the Visit Durango board of directors and staff in welcoming a new executive director. Rachel Brown brings eight successful years of tourism experience to the organization, including working with Visit Oakland and Visit Fisherman’s Wharf. Rachel will work alongside the DATO board, staff, community and industry partners to implement sustainable tourism strategies and new initiatives for 2020.

Barbara Bowman is the interim executive director of Visit Durango. She is a third-generation Colorado native, with Silverton roots. She recently retired after 27½ years with Visit Grand Junction. Barb can be reached at 261-1052 or barb@durango.org.