As we round the corner toward the end of 2019, we reflect on another successful tourism season and Visit Durango’s accomplishments over the past year.
During the 416 Fire, Visit Durango quickly enacted a crisis recovery plan to mitigate the impact of the fire on tourism and subsequent economic losses. We ramped up digital marketing efforts to promote Durango as the recipient of Budget Travel’s annual “Coolest Small Towns Awards,” and leveraged our agreement to sell tickets for Mesa Verde National Park at the Durango Welcome Center. We also implemented several new strategies and tools to bolster sales and marketing efforts in tour and travel trade, meetings and business development.
In addition, we identified several long-term objectives to ensure economic viability and continued success for the Durango area tourism industry. In early 2019, we set out to refresh the Visit Durango brand, followed by a complete redesign of the website and travel planner, two of the organization’s most valuable owned media properties to attract visitation to the region.
The first step was to refresh the brand’s look and feel by developing a new color palette. We looked to Instagram and examined a cross-section of photos that reflect our scenic area. What we saw was a bright palette of the blues of the sky and water, the gold of the sun, the green of spring leaves, and the brick of our crimson cliffs and our historic downtown buildings. You’ll see these colors on our new website, which launched in late October.
A website is often the first impression a visitor has of a destination. The new website delivers a dynamic design to successfully promote the Durango area and its tourism-related businesses and attractions. The new site also provides an improved online experience to attract new visitors and maintain repeat tourism targeting Durango’s three most important audience segments: families, millennial adventure travelers and boomers. These high-value travelers are looking for experiences from outdoor recreation and fine cuisine to culture and shopping in an authentic Western town.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) also plays an increasingly important role in destination marketing. In 2018, Visit Durango invested in Simpleview, the leading tourism industry-specific CRM system for destination marketing organizations. Through its integrated Customer Relations Management platform, the new website also allows our sales team to better manage interactions with current and potential visitors, including meeting and event planners.
Visit Durango’s final big initiative for 2019 is the redesign of the travel planner. Visit Durango distributes thousands of travel planners every year, both by mail and electronically. Requests for travel planners indicates a strong “intent to travel” and helps Visit Durango predict the strength of tourism months ahead of time, along with industry research. The new design reflects the look and feel of the brand refresh and new website, while delivering content in the way visitors want to receive it. The new travel planner design is heading to the printer next week, and the finished product will be distributed to potential visitors starting Jan. 1, 2020.
Most destination marketing organizations will typically complete just one of these massive projects every few years. Yet, Visit Durango’s small staff rose to the challenge by completing these major initiatives in 2019, ensuring a strong and viable future for our area’s tourism industry. With the addition of 273 new hotel rooms coming online in 2020, the Visit Durango team is working hard to be better positioned to increase overall lodging tax and sales tax revenues, while embarking on new initiatives for 2020.
Visit Durango is grateful to the marketing committee for their guidance and support overseeing the success of these important initiatives. This marketing advisory committee is comprised of local community members representing the local tourism industry. The committee meets regularly to share information – including data that assists in setting strategy, ensuring accountability and continuously improving marketing efforts.
Visit Durango also recognizes outgoing interim Executive Director Barb Bowman for her leadership the past 10 months. Rachel Brown will join the organization next week as executive director from Visit Fisherman’s Wharf and Visit Oakland in Northern California.
Suzanne Harrison is the marketing director for Visit Durango. Contact her at 247-3500.