Chamber CEO Kara Stoller: Join the discussion about special events

Kara Stoller For Steamboat Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The new year brings a sense of hope for renewed energy and focus, fresh starts and new perspectives. January inspires people to challenge the status quo, recommit and strive for something new.

Kara Stoller

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association team is excited to share a new vision, mission and brand in the coming weeks. Leading up to this, the board of directors and staff evaluated alignment with our members and the community as a whole. Part of that process has been to take a closer look at the role of special events in our community.

Specific to that, we have partnered with the city to gather input from community members, event producers and city staff. There are a number of goals here: to ensure public safety; to support events that provide special experiences; to drive visitation and local spending; and evaluate how we evolve special events based on community desire.

A few efforts are already underway to maximize the benefits while minimizing the impacts of events. To coincide with our destination marketing efforts, we plan to allocate special event funding dollars to encourage event producers to schedule their events in our times of opportunity — May, June, September or October. Those changes will be enacted this summer.

From 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31 the city, chamber and the Steamboat Pilot & Today will host a public input session at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Steamboat Today Editor Lisa Schlichtman will facilitate the discussion. We want to hear from our community about the current state of special events and how you envision them to look in the future.

Both the city and Chamber are aware that there is a balance that needs to be found in terms of special events for many reasons. That being said, I would like to share a few reasons why events are important to our town.

Annually, we conduct a visitor research study to learn more about those coming to Steamboat. We use that information to guide our marketing campaign.

This past summer 48 percent of respondents said they attended a special event. In 2017, 40 percent of visitors to visited our event information pages. Events spark interest and visitation as well as add value to a trip booked for general reasons.

In September, the Colorado League High School Mountain Bike Race took place on Emerald Mountain and used Howelsen Hill base area. Thirty-eight percent of attendees were in town for the first time, and 95 percent of attendees said they would like to see the event take place in Steamboat again. The participants’ review of the course and our trails was incredibly positive, and the trail work that was accelerated to prepare for the event benefitted our community as well.

Events also have social impacts for visitors and locals alike. They can foster a sense of place and pride among community members. Bringing people together physically in a digitally-consumed age is something to be valued.

We hope you will join the discussion on Jan. 31 and help shape the future of Steamboat.

Kara Stoller is CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

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