June looks “soft” due to inclement weather here, nice weather elsewhere
By Katherine Nettles
The Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP) recently shared its latest predictions about visitors, their impacts on the local economy and their places of origin for the coming summer season, which indicates a slow start for June due to inclement weather locally and fair weather in the south.
Last November, TAPP started using software from the data collection company Arrivalist, which gathers information from an “anonymized” and aggregated panel of cell phone users to inform destination marketing organizations. This offers “visitation intelligence,” according to Arrivalist’s website, to link consumer behavior and marketing efforts. As part of the package, TAPP also got 2018 data.
In the TAPP’s semi-annual report to the Gunnison County commissioners on May 14, TAPP executive director John Norton described how Arrivalist is able to “ping” visitors as they arrive, and then gather information about their travels within the county. It does not track spending.
TAPP marketing director Laurel Runcie stated in an e-mail to The Crested Butte News that “in winter and summer, the great majority of visitors arrive by car.”
“We previously only had O&D [outbound and destination] data, but now with Arrivalist, it shows our linkage to bring that information to the air command,” said Norton.
“What’s interesting is to look at the traffic in the valley from Arrivalist,” he continued, showing a map that tracked visitor traffic from last summer. “The resources we have valley wide, there’s a lot of activity. We are getting a disbursement of activities that aren’t mountain biking,” said Norton. “Spring Creek, Taylor Park, even all the way to White Pine—we have equestrian use, hiking … and these are people who don’t live here. If you come twice in two weeks, you get eliminated.”
Runcie explained that process more fully by e-mail. “It does eliminate folks who cross from outside the boundaries into the boundaries more than twice in a two-week period. This is standard across their platform and the goal is to try to eliminate non-leisure visits. An example we came up with was a theoretical person from Lake City who does their grocery shopping at Safeway or City Market in Gunnison,” Runcie wrote.
While it is clear that the Front Range visitors have become fans of the Gunnison Valley and travel here often, TAPP’s presentation concluded that farther-out markets are spending more nights than the average Denver visitor. Most long-distance travelers stay four or five nights, said Runcie. Albuquerque is one growing market catching attention of the marketing team at TAPP. And within closer driving distance, Colorado Springs/Pueblo “is the fastest growing part of the state,” said Runcie.
As far as both second homeowner or frequent visitor data, and even local traffic patterns, those are certainly desirable but yet to come.
In particular, “We are still figuring out how to identify the second homeowner profile,” said Runcie.
“It would be nice to get that layer,” responded county commissioner Roland Mason.
With the additional flight from Houston to Gunnison starting in early June, Runcie responded to questions from The News about how TAPP is marketing to fill flights this summer. “We received a grant from Mt. Crested Butte that we are matching with the LMD [Local Marketing District, TAPP’s primary funding source] funds to run a campaign with mostly paid digital and social media targeting Houston. We also have a grassroots component targeting mountain bikers in Houston.”
Additionally, Runcie said public relations manager Andrew Sandstrom has done quite a bit of grassroots outreach to real estate professionals and property managers in the Gunnison Valley to spread the word to second homeowners and their friends. “We launched the campaign the first week in April and it will run through the end of June,” she said.
“The outlook for June looks a bit soft right now. I’m told that our big snowpack and abnormally clement Texas weather is the reason for that,” said Runcie.