The Steamboat Springs Chamber was awarded a Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) Recovery Mentor program by the Colorado Tourism Office in fall 2020. The objective of this CRAFT Mentor program was to support the Steamboat Springs Chamber design and implement destination management solutions for the busy Buffalo Pass recreation area during the 2020/21 winter travel season.
The delivery of this CRAFT Mentor project positions Steamboat Springs to be better prepared to manage the increased use of public lands that the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred. Work performed included engagement with the Steamboat Springs Chamber and the Routt County Rountable’s Winter Subcommittee.
CRAFT Recovery Mentor Program Results
Steamboat Springs Chamber was paired with Mimi Mather, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in destination management, visitor experience design and creative communications, to achieve the following recovery-related project outcomes:
- Creating a Know Before You Go webpage on the Chamber’s website to inform both travelers and locals about winter recreation opportunities and protocols for responsible use of public lands in the Steamboat Springs area. Content developed included concise responsible visitation messaging as well as a compilation of informational and safety resources.
- Development of a Twitter account, titled @stmbttrailheads, for the Steamboat Springs Chamber, the U.S. Forest Service and Steamboat Powdercats to share parking lot images and updates on parking capacity at Dry Lake and other high-use winter trailheads. This destination management tool was set up to offer nearly real-time alerts during busy periods and discourage illegal parking and overcrowding.
- Development of educational content and media focused on shaping visitor behavior to encourage responsible use of public lands (e.g. leave no trace), inform safe winter recreation and backcountry travel (e.g., know before you go), and foster respect for fellow public land users. Media including a postcard, social media graphics, and Dry Lake Trailhead tips were designed to inform and drive traffic to the Chamber’s Know Before You Go website and the @stmbttrailheads Twitter account. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service used the visitor education content to create signs for Dry Lake Trailhead.
“With the help of the CRAFT Recovery Mentor program, we were able to pilot a community-wide destination management project. Our Mentor’s work was high-quality and efficient and extended our efforts far beyond what we would have been able to accomplish on our own.” - Laura Soard, Steamboat Springs Chamber
About CRAFT Recovery Mentor
The Colorado Tourism Office developed the Colorado Rural Academy For Tourism (CRAFT) to support communities across the state integrate tourism into their economic development strategies and develop new visitor experiences aimed at attracting increased traveler spending.
The CRAFT Recovery Mentor program provides up to 50 hours of mentoring for Colorado tourism partners to advance one or more tourism strategies that bolsters their response to a recent crisis or natural disaster.
Laura Soard, Steamboat Springs Chamber