Steamboat Resort parent company executive visits Airline Summit
February 5, 2019
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Resort's 20th annual Airline Summit brought an executive from Alterra, the resort's parent company, as well as several major airlines to The Steamboat Grand.
The event has been a way to build relationships with the various airlines that schedule flights to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, especially during the busy winter months.
This year's event comes after a vote to increase the Steamboat Springs sales tax in order to support an airline program that brings direct flights to the airport failed in November.
That topic did not come up during the summit, which focused instead on what sets Steamboat Springs apart among other resort towns.
Janet Fischer, director of the resort's airline program, said discussion helps to distinguish the city as a flight destination to airlines.
"For a major airline, Steamboat is a really small piece of their world," she said of the airlines present, which included big names like Alaska Airlines and United Airlines. "So, we want them to have an experience here and see how different we are."
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That experience included a reception on Tuesday evening, featuring a trampoline show produced by Steamboat Olympian Fuzz Feddersen and his company, Flying Ace Productions.
Bob Stinchcomb, senior vice president of sales for Alterra, led a presentation in which he discussed what the company has done to attract more skiers and riders to Steamboat.
This winter, Steamboat Resort expanded its air program with more flights from several large cities. For the first time, it partnered with Jet Blue to add direct flights from Boston, Massachusetts, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Long Beach, California.
Stinchcomb also discussed the IKON pass, which Alterra premiered for this winter season. It allows pass-holders to ski and ride at 38 resorts around the world. He said the pass has encouraged new visitors to visit Steamboat, which he called a "signature destination resort."
"I would say there's a lot that Steamboat is doing to differentiate from other resorts," he said, pointing to the town's family-oriented, cowboy spirit.
But, getting newcomers a flight to the area could prove troublesome next winter.
In November, voters struck down Referendum 2A that would have increased city sales tax by 0.2 percent over the next 10 years.
Voters initially approved an airline program sales tax in 2011. The tax dollars have been used to pay airlines if their flights do not get agreed-upon revenue. That funding helped to expand the direct flights to Yampa Regional Valley Airport from seven to 15.
The 0.2 percent sales tax would have been a third source of revenue, about $1.3 million annually, for the resort's airline program that incentivizes companies to schedule flights to the regional airport.
The other two sources of revenue include contributions from Steamboat Resort as well as funds from a lodging tax, which will continue to support the program.
Katie Brown, vice president of sales and marketing for the resort, said the lack of funding has already forced officials to trim summer flights from Houston. The resort plans to discuss the future of the airline program with the Local Marketing District board in the spring.
"There could be some tough decisions ahead," Brown said via text message.
Rob Perlman, Steamboat Resort's president, told Steamboat Pilot & Today in October that cuts to flights can have a big economic impact on the local community.
He estimated that if airline seats decreased by 15 percent, that would mean up to 10,000 fewer people visiting Steamboat who would have spent a combined $13.4 million.