Park City Chamber and Visitors Bureau Unveils New Plan
The Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau has a new plan to bring visitors back to the area now that businesses have reopened.
Phase One of the Chamber's plan uses digital advertising to appeal to potential visitors from the Wasatch Front, which is the population centered around Salt Lake City that stretches north to Ogden and south to Provo, an area encompassing 80% of Utah's 3.2 million residents.
President and CEO of the Chamber, Bill Malone, said research from 2017 shows 20% of overnight leisure visitors in the Park City area came from the Wasatch Front. "There is business that we could have that people want to escape the Wasatch Front and the heat in the height of summer and will come up here and stay," said Malone. "We do need people from an economic standpoint, that guest, that is going to stay a couple days, spend money, whether it's retail, dining, lodging, activities, etc."
Malone said Phase Two of the Chamber's marketing plan expands advertising to what he calls "healthy drive" markets. "Our research has shown that people are ready now. Not everyone, but some people are ready to start absorbing advertising as it relates to outside vacationing, drive market. And the fact you can escape today at 104 degrees in Phoenix and be here in ten hours and fifteen minutes to Park City, I think those are the areas that people in the west can accomplish in terms of a drive market vacation."
Park City's lodging industry has taken a big hit due to COVID-19, said Malone, and the summer forecast is not encouraging. "It's a pretty dire situation from an occupancy standpoint. I looked at our May numbers and we're projecting to be down 94% in occupancy and June is projected to be down 64%."
Another loss is the large corporate business travel that Malone says the Chamber has spent the last decade building. He says some of the luxury lodging facilities have lost 50% of their bookings this summer. "For the most part we are hearing good news that we have been able to rebook a lot of that into next year. But it will be a real challenge for all the suppliers and the people involved in weddings and photography, and all those types of things with group business and AV companies and things like that. That's going to take a big hit this summer."
Malone referred to Phase Three of the Chamber's marketing plan as the "new normal" when he presented it to the Summit County Council May 20th. Phase Three includes advertising in markets that are a short flight away from Park City. Malone hopes that could happen by late summer, but he is not making any guesses beyond that right now. "It's really hard to tell for winter. A drive market for winter is challenging for us. It does not look like what we have had in the past, obviously. But we have to see where we are in terms of safety and people's confidence in terms of getting on airplanes and coming here. We are speaking with the resorts, but it is really kind of up in the air right now. The focus is getting some activities and some semblance of summer going."
The Chamber's marketing plan costs about $250,000, which is far less than the $600,000 spent last year. Most of the marketing will be digital, which Malone says will allow the Chamber to easily dial back the advertising plan if COVID-19 makes a resurgence.