At its annual meeting Thursday, June 17, the Breckenridge Tourism Office reflected on how its goals and structure changed throughout the past year while also announcing its latest One Breckenridge Service Champion Award winners.
Tourism office President Lucy Kay started by plugging the office’s 2020 annual report, which can be viewed at OneBreckenridge.com. The report details the events and activities of the tourism office leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted the office.
“We’re so proud of how our community came together and really worked shoulder to shoulder to find our way through these past 18 months, and we’ve made that annual report really more like a documentary and a tribute to that incredible collaboration in our community,” Kay said.
Kay also said that despite the pandemic, tourism office web visits went up 21%, the number of users went up 15%, and lodging referrals from JackRabbit — a tourism-focused software company — went up 26%.
Richard Sosville, chairman of the board, went on to outline the office’s finances for the year, which looked drastically different due to the pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, the tourism office refunded $477,000 to the town, along with an additional $300,000 at the end of 2020, which the town used for local assistance programs. This extra money came from the amount of programs canceled throughout the year because of the pandemic, Sosville said.
Sosville said the tourism office also refunded Breckenridge Ski Resort its typical $150,000 contribution since so much summer programming was canceled last year.
Despite the difficulties the pandemic caused for the tourism office, Sosville said it managed funds efficiently and received a “perfectly clean audit” for the year.
The office reduced its budget request from the town of Breckenridge by about $400,000 for this year. Sosville said he also expects to absorb revenue shortfalls for the lack of events and sponsorships this year.
He added that the office always works closely with the town to make sure programs are in sync with town goals.
“As a board, we are extremely proud of the job that the team did to stay ahead of these changing priorities constantly going on throughout the year and protocols in 2020,” Sosville said.
Sosville added that the board is saying goodbye to Cary Cooper, who has been a board member for five years. Wendy Wolfe, who has previously served on the board, will return to take over Cooper’s seat.
Director of Community Affairs and Destination Management Tessa Breder then talked about educating prospective guests on how to be good stewards of the community.
Breder works to create educational resources that will provide tourists the go-to information they will need to know for a successful visit to the town. She said she works with the town’s Open Space & Trails Department to ensure the right trails are recommended to visitors, and they change this list up as they go if particular sites start to get overcrowded.
She also discussed various programs and resources the tourism office offers to locals working in guest services to make sure they are providing accurate and useful information to visitors.
“We really want to support front-line workers in their mission of providing guests great information and making their jobs easier by having that information readily available for them,” Breder said.
Chief Marketing Officer Brett Howard went through some of the ways the tourism office has changed its marketing strategies and how they will continue to change as technology and internet privacy rights evolve.
Howard said the tourism office mostly markets to out-of-state visitors, called destination guests, who will come to visit for longer periods of time. Those marketed fall into one of four demographic categories for the office that span multiple age groups. Howard’s marketing team also created specific digital campaigns showcasing Breckenridge as a town where “everyone’s welcome,” aiming to push diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as well.
Howard then brought up the new B Like Breckenridge campaign, which aims to create an umbrella of all the tourism office’s initiatives.
“The B Like Breckenridge initiative is a really thoughtful umbrella that encourages responsible stewardship actions, calls out the town’s sustainable, community and environmental efforts, as well as highlights diversity, equity and inclusion efforts happening throughout our community,” tourism office spokesperson Austyn Dineen wrote in an email.
Howard also spoke on his department’s use of See Source, a data marketing tool that gathers digital information on town visitors. This isn’t the first resource of this kind the office has used, and Howard said this technology is advancing quickly.
“We remain very flexible, and if the programs aren’t functioning or working the way we feel they should, we pivot from those,” Howard said.