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Breckenridge Resort Chamber: Good news in the Kingdom

Shawna Henderson
Breckenridge Resort Chamber

Breckenridge set many records in 2006. Sales tax revenues have been setting records across all sectors for 23 months in a row, the ski resort posted 1.65 million skier visits, claiming the most skier visits of any ski area in the country, and the Breckenridge economy surpassed $300 million for the first time in 2006, topping out at $323 million. It is apparent that tourism is booming, but what might not be as obvious is that many of Breckenridge’s successes can be attributed to group business.

Group travel is an important aspect of economic growth for destination resorts. This type of business bridges the gap between the high tourist seasons, making Breckenridge and other High Country resort towns, year-round destinations with smaller shoulder seasons. Group travel includes ski groups, corporate retreats, reunions, weddings, government groups, associations, educational conferences and leisure groups.

In Breckenridge alone, group travel has contributed to $12.5 million in lodging revenue over the past year. This number does not include the dollars that group visitors spend in shops, restaurants and activities. While group business largely contributes to revenue, it also takes fewer resources, and less time and energy to fill beds compared with the same number of free and independent traveler bookings, which are travelers who are not part of a group.

According to a Yesavich, Pepperdine, Brown and Russell study, family group travel will continue to grow at a faster rate than all other forms of leisure travel as parents and grandparents continue to look at travel as a great way to “reunite” families.

In addition to group leisure trips, Breckenridge embraces corporate team-building activities, group in-town dining and other activities to make the town a perfect destination for business retreats and meetings. Business travelers on average have a higher disposable income than independent travelers and often incorporate additional vacation days into their business trips.

Breckenridge has seen an increasing trend in the use of business retreats as family vacations. A large selling point for Breckenridge and other Rocky Mountain destinations is the numerous activities for family members to participate in while one member of the family is in a conference.

David Sudduth, director of sales and marketing for Breckenridge Lodging and Hospitality, said about 35 percent of that group’s yearly total revenue comes from group business with 75 percent of spring, summer and fall revenue being generated from groups.

In strong economic times, more businesses travel for retreats and conferences. Bruce Horii, director of sales and marketing at Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, said he has seen an increase in travel from higher-end corporate and social groups with the strengthening of the economy, which continues to rebound from the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

With growth in group business travel, many lodging properties recognize the value of improving their facilities to attract and accommodate a wider spectrum of group businesses. The Village Hotel in Breckenridge has new meeting space and a complete upgrade of all hotel rooms with the connection to modern technologies.

Beaver Run renovated its meeting space, including the enhancement of its Copper Top Lounge, which can be used for groups. Lodging properties are also realizing the benefits of pushing their advertising in the group travel sector.

The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at the Breckenridge Resort Chamber is continuously attending trade shows and providing information to groups interested in visiting Breckenridge. Last week, Breckenridge welcomed about 1,100 members of the Harley Davidson Owners Group for their Ridin’ the Rockies U.S. National Rally.

In January 2008, Breckenridge will welcome the National Brotherhood of Skiers, the largest ski group in North America. The brotherhood is expected to bring an estimated 1,000 registered members and another 800 non-registered members. The group visited Steamboat in 2007, which contributed to an additional 4,000 skier days and an estimated 20 percent increase in in-town spending.

Group business continues to be a strong economic driving force nationally with an increase in Colorado and Breckenridge. Next year, Colorado is welcoming the Democratic National Convention to Denver, which will bring an estimated 35,000 participants. This is an incredible marketing opportunity for Rocky Mountain destinations to encourage participants to extend their stays and explore Colorado.

Group business not only benefits the lodging community, but all activities and businesses within the community. Colorado Rocky Mountain towns are prime places for groups to visit as they exude adventure, escape and beauty.


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