The Clear Creek County commissioners have contracted with a marketing and public relations firm to work for six months to raise the county’s visibility among tourists, while the commissioners create a new volunteer tourism board after redirecting funds away from the county’s Tourism Bureau.
The county will pay Dalgar Communications Group up to $50,000 to help publicize the area and improve the county’s website.
The county’s tourism promotions are primarily funded by a 2 percent lodging tax. This year, the county will add $50,000 in matching funds and 8 percent of sales-tax revenue of $350,000, which will be about $150,000.
The promotions effort will take a shotgun approach based on a marketing plan created by the Clear Creek County Economic Development Corp. and an interim tourism committee created after a series of forums held last year.
County Commissioner Kevin O’Malley said the interim tourism board decided that Dalgar’s role will be to begin implementing the marketing plan as the more permanent tourism board is put into place.
“It was their recommendation that the board hire (Dalgar) to do this first-step marketing, so we were on top of things this summer,” O’Malley said. “Then they will finalize what they think is the best way going forward, which will include the determination of what a permanent board will look like, whether we should have a permanent staff and whether that staff should be full time or part time.”
Peggy Stokstad, CCCEDC president, said the new board can then step in where the marketing firm leaves off.
Looking for a new approach to draw tourists, the county redirected its funding away from the Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau earlier this year to a new board yet to be formed.
Promoting the county
Stephanie Dalgar, president of Dalgar Communications Group, said she has worked with the CCCEDC and the interim tourism committee on the marketing plan.
One aspect of the plan, according to Dalgar, will include making some enhancements and adding more content to the county’s website, such as more details about the area, events, business listings and search-engine optimization. The firm also will create suggested day-long and half-day itineraries for visitors.
Other promotional efforts will include print advertising in 5280 Magazine, Internet advertising and social-media promotions, including on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, Dalgar will help represent the county at TBEX, a large travel blogger conference in Keystone this year. Dalgar said she is also working to have a contingent of those bloggers travel through the county and see its various attractions.
“It’s a real opportunity for the county because it’s bringing a number of these travel bloggers into the county, specifically Idaho Springs and Georgetown, for an opportunity to showcase what the area has to offer,” Dalgar said.
A majority of the county’s funding in past years with the former Tourism Bureau went to advertising on Comcast because of its availability in hotels and bed and breakfasts in the Denver area and throughout Colorado.
The CCCEDC hosted marketing and advertising forums with the public, including county officials, historical societies, local organizations and business leaders. The forums suggested the county needs to use social media, combine the area’s many assets on one website, and create a tourism coordinator.
Stokstad said the new approach to promotions is rooted in those focus groups’ findings.
“I just knew that if there wasn’t somebody to push it forward, maybe it wouldn’t happen, so that’s how it came about,” Stokstad said. “Now it seems like it is coming together, and I am obviously very pleased with that.”
O’Malley said the public forums led by Stokstad have gone a long way in generating interest from the community on economic development.
“Clear Creek Economic Development Corp. took the lead on that, had public meetings and generated quite a bit of interest from the community about how we go about looking at economic development,” O’Malley said. “The highest priority, as indicated by those groups, was marketing the county and having a very good marketing plan and a marketing effort.”