From the Chamber: Destination management |

From the Chamber: Destination management

Laura Soard
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Change is in the air. You can feel it as stores prep their holiday displays and lights illuminate downtown. You can feel it as temperatures drop and the landscape changes to a winter wonderland.

We at the Steamboat Springs Chamber are embracing change, too, looking at the ways we’ve done things in the past and ways we can evolve to meet the needs of our community going forward. As we look to 2022, we’ve identified new and exciting work we want to accomplish in our efforts to bring vitality to the valley.

Destination Marketing is one of the three pillars of work the Chamber focuses on each year. We believe that sharing what makes our valley special with those who live near and far will help enhance our community. As with so many other parts of our world, the past 18 months have caused dramatic shifts in the way we approach our work. To stay in tune with the needs of our community, we must evolve our way of thinking and doing things.

One of the ultimate goals of tourism is to increase quality of life for residents of a destination. When visitors come to town, it boosts the economy, produces jobs and provides revenue for city services. But the vibrancy of our community involves more than just economic health.

We need to take into consideration the social, cultural and environmental impacts of visitation, as well and create holistic plans for what we want our community to look like for years to come. This is work the Chamber has been doing for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term effects have brought this work to the forefront.

In our annual proposal to Steamboat Springs City Council this fall, we made a significant shift. We proposed putting the majority of our destination marketing efforts towards destination management messaging, while putting a smaller portion of efforts towards traditional promotional visitation messaging. That means most of our efforts towards visitors will be educational and inspirational messaging on what it means to care for Steamboat Springs and how to visit in a responsible way.

But what exactly is destination management? It’s a newer concept that destination marketing organizations like the Chamber have been pioneering to help balance the need for tourism with the needs of the community.

Destination management is a broad umbrella to ensure tourism adds value to our community and residents. We want to make sure the positive impacts of tourism outweigh the negative ones, and we believe an increase in both visitor activity and a growing local population dictates the need to manage our destination more actively.

Destination management is a team effort. No one entity, business or nonprofit can do it on their own. The Chamber is focused on communicating sustainable tourism and responsible visitation efforts to our visitors, but there are also many other people and organizations in our community that are championing destination management principles.

For example, the Routt Recreation Roundtable has a subgroup working to put ideas into action and creating Know Before you Go resources for backcountry users. Members of that group come from many different organizations, like activity providers, government agencies, private citizens and nonprofits, including the Chamber. Our collective ideas and actions will help advance destination management efforts throughout the county. And the Chamber’s communication team will be the megaphone to get the word out to visitors and locals alike.

Maintaining the balance of promoting our area while also protecting the integrity of our resources, quality of life for residents and quality of experience for visitors will help ensure that Steamboat remains an incredible place now and for generations to come. In the coming year, be on the lookout for destination management messaging in our community and ways you can contribute to the conversation.

We want everyone, visitors as well as locals, to take pride in caring for Steamboat Springs.

Laura Soard is marketing director of Steamboat Springs Chamber.

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