Coming back for more in Estes Park, Colorado
Posted by Becky Carroll on July 9, 2007
I am a member of the BrandingWire posse, a group of 12 bloggers who, once a month, take on one common branding challenge. Last month, we tackled branding for a coffee house. For this month’s BrandingWire excursion, we are taking our cup of coffee to Estes Park, Colorado. Here is a little bit of information about Estes Park, in case you have never been there:
Estes Park has been a tourist attraction for over 100-years, even before the founding of Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes borders the RMNP and has used the slogan, “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park” for some fifty years at least.
It is nestled in a high-mountain valley with spectacular mountain vistas. The area teams with wildlife (deer and elk saunter through the town’s side streets summer and winter). As a tourist town, Estes has acquired a cadre of attractions other than the outdoor hiking, fishing, horseback riding and sightseeing. There are go-carts, an aerial tramway, hayrides and other family-oriented activities. (You can read more about Estes Park in the brief for BrandingWire put together by member Martin Jelsema, former Estes Park retailer and “native”.
According to the town of Estes Park, there are four types of people who come to visit:
- Day trippers (mostly from the “front range” cities of Denver, Ft. Collins, and other close areas)
- Travelers (just passing through, these folk stop for a day or two to gas up, replenish supplies, and camp)
- Conventioneers (in town for a particular meeting or event, such as the many horse shows or the Scandinavian Festival)
- Destination vacationers (usually families that come for a week-long vacation)
The town would like to increase their tax base, which will help enhance life for both residents and visitors alike. Tourism is the currently considered to be the best way to increase the revenues. Now for the questions: Which visitors to focus on? Can you please everyone?
Oh, one last detail: repeat visitors to Estes Park tend to spend quite a bit more money than first-time visitors, as their stays are longer. According to the town’s annual stakeholder report, repeat visitors stay 7.3 days, compared to only 3.9 days for a first-time visitor! The Customers Rock! approach to helping Estes Park is to increase the tax base by converting more first-time visitors to loyal Estes Park vacationers.
How do we get people to come back for more? We make sure we are relevant in our messaging and we create a fabulous customer experience. This applies across all visitor types!
In order for Estes Park to have the most relevant messaging, we need to understand why people come back to this beautiful town. There are key reasons why people leave their home and go somewhere else for a day or a week. Messaging should help visitors understand how Estes Park meets their needs. I would want to ask return visitors what brings them back. Those who come year after year may have special insights to share!
From my experience, these are the types of visitor “needs” that are met by places like Estes Park:
- I need peace and quiet: I want to get away from it all and get in touch with nature.
- I need thrills and adventure: I want to break out of my boring environment and do something exciting and maybe a bit risky!
- I want to make a memory with my family: The kids are growing up, and I want to have special family trips they will remember for a lifetime. Maybe they will even bring their own kids one day…
- I am just here for business, but I want to see the area: If this place is good, maybe I will bring my family back here sometime!
- I just need to fill up my car and my stomach: Perhaps I will come back another time, or at least recommend it to someone else.
- I need a place to retire someday: I am thinking about where I want to spend my next years, and I want to find a place that meets my needs.
The people in the “visitor segments” will most likely have these needs underlying their outside “behaviors”. I would recommend looking at creating “segments” based on these visitor needs, rather than the visitor types outlined earlier. Once Estes Park understands the needs of their return visitors, they can begin to tweak their current messaging to show how their town meets those needs.
The town website for visitors could be broken up into a few key areas, allowing potential and returning visitors to find experiences that help meet their vacation needs. Here is a site for Estes Park that starts to do something similar. In their What to Do section, they break out areas such as Be Adventurous, Take it Easy, With the Kids, helping visitors easily find the activities that are right for them. The main Estes Park site can use the understanding of their returning visitors’ needs to craft an outstanding web experience before a new visitor even sets foot into town!
Create a Fabulous Customer Experience
Finally, in order to create return visitors, the customer experience must shine. This means hiring people with great customer service skills, keeping the town maintained, and making each tourist touchpoint a great interaction. A location on the website where visitors can share their experiences and review the businesses could help to highlight those establishments who treat their customers well – and keep customers coming back for more.
Get more high-voltage ideas at BrandingWire.com.
Other members of the BrandingWire team include: Olivier Blanchard, Derrick Daye, Lewis Green, Ann Handley, Gavin Heaton, Martin Jelsema, Valeria Maltoni, Drew McLellan, Patrick Schaber, Kevin Dugan and Steve Woodruff.
(Photo credit: rarpia)