Those of us who have lived in Estes Park for more than a few years can tell you that each year the town feels more and more like a year round destination with guests coming at all times instead of just those core 4 months.
The first quarter of 2019 really shows that change with an increase in overnight stays of 32% over 2018. This increase is a result of a variety of factors we have identified from our guest surveys and data analytics including:
More businesses open year round
Visit Estes Park’s focus on marketing the winter season
Increased awareness and interest in the winter adventures Estes and Rocky have to offer
New events that draw significant overnight stays (ex. Wine & Chocolate)
No matter the reason of the increase one thing is clear: Estes is quickly becoming a year round destination. In 2018 stakeholder outreach the number one thing that you all collectively felt Visit Estes Park could impact was to “smooth out” the demand from summer to the other seasons. Our 2019 operating plan included the most aggressive winter marketing campaign in Visit Estes Park’s history and the initial results seem to have been very positive. With the success of our winter marketing campaigns for 2018/2019 winter we are currently planning on keeping the ideas that worked and expanding on them for the 2019/2020 winter season.
While we cannot predict the future we can look at our past and do the best to determine how successful next winter will be and even though we experienced an impressive 32% increase in year over year visitation we know that another 30% would be easily absorbed by a town built to handle summer traffic and flows that are still 400% above our winter visitation.
This smoothing of demand has helped numerous Estes businesses to keep employees year round, allowed businesses to remain open year round and helped others stay in the black for more months than in the past. We hope the increase has been beneficial to your business’ success and value your feedback about how this winter was for you compared to the past.
I see a future where business owners in Estes Park no longer have to plan for feast and famine; where every month is in the black and they can safely keep year round staff who can make a living wage. This is the future I dream of for Estes Park and it feels like each month we are closer to seeing that become a reality.