Recently, B Public Relations team members came together with other industry leaders at the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference to engage and discuss key factors impacting the Colorado tourism industry today, tomorrow and beyond. Below, we’ve outlined a few key takeaways that will be critical for our hotel, resort and destination partners as we move into 2020.
With continually increasing visitation, several small wonders of Colorado are seeing an uptick in tourism that isn’t sustainable for certain state parks and areas. An example is Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon. This natural Colorado wonder has seen extreme over-visitation, which led to trails being widened, illegal and dangerous parking, disrespect to the land and even vandalism.
To ensure the trail and lake were properly preserved, and to create a better visitor experience, in 2019, Glenwood Springs and the U.S. Forest Service partnered to create a reservation system for the Hanging Lake trail. This system works similarly to that of a restaurant – visitors sign up for a time slot during which they are then able to enjoy more room on the trails, less traffic to navigate and a more peaceful natural environment. Throughout the summer 2019 season, the trail did not see a reduction in visitation due to this change. Additionally, visitor happiness increased, and trail upkeep was better managed with rangers returning to watching over the trails, rather than the parking lots. As sustainability continues to be a critical conversation in Colorado, it will be more imperative to ensure visitors understand the practices put in place to preserve our natural Colorado beauty.
– Carson Denbow, Account Executive
Colorado’s outdoor playground is world-renown, from our impressive mountain peaks to the flowing rivers and endless trails (more about that can be found in this tear-jerking “Love Letter to Colorado”). But, much of the state is inaccessible to every day users because of physical limitations or abilities. The emergence of electric bikes (more commonly referred to as “ebikes”) was a core topic of discussion, as they expand access to trails and experiences. Thanks to an assisted pedal that triggers an electric motor, ebikes are partially-powered by the rider and partially by the motor, reducing out some of the physical effort a traditional bike requires (some BPR team members experience ebikes on a recent wine tour in Sonoma Valley and the hill-assist is truly life-changing for those who want to enjoy a leisurely ride). In fact, some ebikes can go up to 30 mph. This opens cycling up to entirely new audiences and has the opportunity to dramatically change how visitors experience the outdoors.
But with the expanded accessibility, comes additional responsibility. Experienced riders have the appropriate gear, knowledge of trails and an understanding of the best ways to respect the outdoors and other riders. As tourism advocates, how are we educating new demographics who, thanks to ebikes, are now consumers of Colorado’s great outdoors?
– April Ingle, Account Director
Google Gets Into Travel
In the recent months you may have noticed some changes on Google search, particularly regarding travel content. Google Travel’s new format, intended to compete directly with functions such as Airbnb’s experience suggestions, also offers up businesses, destinations and experiences to those who it concludes are conducting travel searches. The information it displays draws heavily on information from Google My Business listings, underscoring the importance for businesses to claim their listings, keep them well-maintained and encourage regular activity and reviews. However, some of the results (primarily header images and “Things to Do” articles) are pulled directly from the submissions of Google Local Guides – a Google program which, it turns out, is very easy to apply to. Consider having a designated Google Local Guide for businesses and destinations that can capitalize on travelers, in order to potentially influence the content shown for travel searches in your area.
– Savannah King, Social + Digital Media Manager
The Future is Female
The future [of the outdoor industry] is female, and it’s about time! For years, companies have addressed women’s outdoor gear with the mentality of “shrink it and pink it.” No longer. According to Forbes, in 2019 – for the first time ever – the best-selling ski in North America was a women’s ski. Overall, women’s outdoor apparel and footwear sales are up 2 percent, while men’s sales remained stagnant. Colorado Public Radio reports that women are the fastest-growing demographic in the fly fishing industry. This was a recurring theme in breakout sessions and panels throughout 2019 GovCon – How can destinations in a state, world-renowned for its active pursuits, capitalize on growing female interest? How do we reach them, share brand stories and entice them to get involved? I believe it’s a matter of exposure and representation – like any other demographic, it’s important to continue to offer role models, thought leaders and industry frontrunners for a particular consumer segment to relate to and believe in.
– Chelsea Coe, Senior Account Executive