Restart Destinations Success Story: Lake City Hinsdale Marketing Committee

Lake City Hinsdale Marketing Committee (LCHCMC) was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • strengthen Hinsdale County’s year-round tourism economy by increasing winter visitation
  • convene Hinsdale County tourism stakeholders to identify barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, and align on collaborative solutions 

Located in the Mountains and Mesas travel region, Lake City and unincorporated Hinsdale County is a tourism-dependent destination that experiences a robust summer tourism season, but sees a significant decline in visitation during the winter months. The landscape boasts a variety of winter outdoor recreation assets and stunning winter scenery, yet many businesses do not offer consistent operating hours during the winter. This has led to the misperception that Lake City is “closed for the winter.”

LCHCMC is funded through the Hinsdale County lodging tax and consists of seven members: Town of Lake City Trustee, Hinsdale County Commissioner, Lake City/Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Lake City/Hinsdale County Lodging Tax Board Member, Lake City DIRT Board Member, and an at-large member. The role of the LCHC Marketing Committee is to develop and implement a comprehensive tourism marketing strategy for Lake City and Hinsdale County and oversee the work of the LCHC Marketing Manager. 

LCHCMC was paired with Mimi Mather, a CRAFT Workshop Facilitator with experience in destination management, tourism development, and creative communications, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop.

LCHCMC also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. The LCHCMC hosted three core team meetings to identify priority barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, discuss the findings from the recovery assessment, and guide workshop design. 

Recovery Assessment and Workshop Results

LCHCMC supported the development of a recovery assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile survey, insights from residents and tourism stakeholders, and input from the core team.

LCHCMC convened 25 tourism stakeholders on October 7, 2021 for a community visioning and action planning workshop to review the recovery assessment and align on priority actions for driving near-term recovery and long-term resilience. Workshop participants represented a wide range of tourism stakeholders, including public officials, lodging providers, trail and conservation organizations, attractions, retail, and restaurants.

Workshop participants engaged in a small group activity to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that benefit the tourism industry in Hinsdale County. Overlapping themes from these discussions included increasing winter visitation, establishing more consistent restaurant hours of operation, and expanding winter offerings and events.

As a result of the workshop discussions, participants aligned on key priorities and action items to inform the development of a recovery action plan. Key priorities include:

  • grow winter tourism sustainably
  • support local businesses so they can remain open in the winter
  • use a collaborative, community-based approach to enrich the winter experience

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, LCHCMC was paired with Mimi Mather, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in destination management, tourism development, and creative communications to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to advance a series of marketing strategies that build awareness of Lake City as a winter destination and drive demand at local restaurants that operate in the winter. 

Project objectives included:

  • develop outreach strategies that target regional drive markets and build awareness of Lake City’s winter travel opportunities 
  • curate digital content to promote Lake City as a winter destination 
  • develop an “eat local” campaign targeted to visitors and residents that supports restaurants operating in the winter  
  • compile a list of priority travel writers and influencers, and a strategy to inform the media of Lake City’s winter travel opportunities

LCHCMC achieved the following results through the Restart Destinations Mentor project:

  • winter tourism outreach strategy targeting regional drive markets that includes earned media tactics, example content ideas, and a timeline to expand outreach in winter 2022-2023
  • winter campaign strategy and tactics that drive demand to Lake City businesses operating in the winter
  • media contact list featuring relevant social media influencers, media outlets, and Colorado journalists that focus on outdoor adventure 
  • digital content and resources for the LCHCMC website, social media channels, and digital storytelling platforms 

"Participating in the Restart Destinations Program has allowed Lake City and Hinsdale County to jump start our efforts for increasing winter tourism and has provided us with a roadmap to move forward that would have been difficult to achieve without the technical assistance provided through this program." - Kate Hopson, Marketing Manager, Lake City Hinsdale County Marketing Committee

CRAFT Recovery assistance for Tourism

About Restart Destinations Program

The Restart Destinations Program supports Colorado tourism destinations to drive faster recovery as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Awarded destinations receive a recovery assessment, a full-day recovery workshop, 75 hours of customized technical assistance, and $10,000 in direct marketing support from the Colorado Tourism Office. This program was made possible by a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.