Steamboat Chamber will push kindness again this year with an increased focus on locals

The Steamboat Springs Chamber unveiled its communications strategy, including the new slogan "Kindness Floats the Boat," to Steamboat Springs City Council on May 24, 2022. In a presentation to Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, March 7, the Chamber indicated it won’t include any marketing to bring people to town this summer, but will add more of a focus on locals, possibly starting a newsletter focused on issues and questions about tourism that locals have.
Steamboat Springs Chamber/Courtesy photo

In the second year of its destination management dominant strategy, the Steamboat Springs Chamber will again focus on kindness.

In a presentation to Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, March 7, Chamber Marketing Director Laura Soard said the plan for this summer is similar to last year, though it won’t include any marketing to bring people to town this summer.

This year’s campaign will also add more of a focus on locals, with the chamber intending to put together a newsletter focused on issues and questions about tourism that locals have.

“We want to make sure that we are engaging with our residents and getting a deeper understanding from both sides,” Soard said. “Something new I want to mention this year is a locals newsletter, so that’s isolating local email addresses and building upon that to have more communications with locals about what’s going on in the destination.”

The chamber’s strategy has changed significantly in recent years to put more of an emphasis on managing tourism rather than trying to spur it. Last year’s plan focused 75% toward management and 25% toward marketing, but last fall council members signaled they didn’t want to see any marketing of Steamboat in this year’s plan.

Those changes also reduced funding for this effort from last year’s levels. Soard said this would lead to less social media marketing of the “Kindness Floats the Boat” messaging than last year. This messaging will be targeted through social media at people who are physically in Steamboat, and won’t be sent to people beyond the Yampa Valley, according to Soard.

“We are paying to basically amplify that message to people that are here,” Soard said.

The chamber also conducted a resident sentiment survey, which Soard said should have results soon and that they would be shared with council and the public. This data will be used to gauge how well the chamber’s efforts are working.

Council members largely said they were pleased with the chamber’s efforts last year and liked the idea of adding a newsletter targeting locals.

“It’s nice to see this evolve,” council member Michael Buccino said. “You’ve mentioned residents a whole lot more in your presentation than I’ve ever heard coming from the chamber. It really is a paradigm shift.”

This year 100% of the chamber’s efforts are focused on management, while as recently as 2019 that was just 10%. Still, Soard said she wants to ensure the chamber doesn’t let those materials get stale in case the chamber needs to “flip the switch” and start marketing to encourage more visitors.

Council members were somewhat skeptical of this, but Soard stressed that isn’t part of her plan this year. Rather, it is an effort to be able to adjust in the future. If there were to be a shift, she said it would come at council’s direction.

“What I would like to do this year is just make sure that we are maintaining these assets that we have like our website, keeping photography up to date, those kinds of things,” Soard said. “Maybe next year, if council decides it looks like occupancy is down, revenue is down, whatever the case may be … we have these things in place.”

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