Selling ‘affordable Aspen’ to cost $200K in marketing funds |

Selling ‘affordable Aspen’ to cost $200K in marketing funds

ASPEN, Colorado ” Aspen’s elected officials took a $200,000 gamble Monday by giving additional money to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to increase marketing efforts to boost summer business.

The Aspen City Council voted unanimously to give the additional funds to ACRA, which already receives roughly $615,000 a year from the city ” revenue generated by a 1 percent lodging tax.

Julia Theisen, ACRA’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the marketing plan will be geared toward value-based guests.

Specific audiences will be targeted through direct mailing and e-mail blasts to families, adventure seekers, arts and culture enthusiasts, and those interested in spa and golf getaways.

The key message in all of the promotions is that Aspen can be affordable and there are plenty of activities that are free, or nearly free.

Deep discounts will be offered by local businesses and lodges who participate in the collaborative effort, ACRA officials said.

Those will come in the form of the “Aspen Summer Card,” a discount card that can be used at participating businesses, and a “Pass It On” promotion in which Wednesdays will offer 50 percent off at lodges, restaurants and retailers.

ACRA officials also plan to host a complimentary weekend in June for between 60 and 80 tourism officials from state welcome centers so they can spread the message of what Aspen has to offer. Marketing officials also plan to reach out to AAA offices so officials there can tout Aspen as a summer destination for the drive market.

Databases of travelers from other regions will be purchased and ACRA representatives will pitch stories to TV affiliates in target cities across the country.

“There’s a lot of great stories geared toward affordable Aspen,” Theisen said, adding the unique aspect of the summer marketing plan is that dozens of local businesses are participating and collaborating with ACRA. “We are trying to come up with something compelling together.”

The budget increase comes on the heels of the council’s decision to approve layoffs in City Hall, as well as cuts to employees benefits.

The additional money will come from savings accrued by departments throughout City Hall over the years.

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