Restart Destinations Success Story: Visit Fort Collins

Visit Fort Collins (VFC) approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • convene Fort Collins hoteliers to identify goals for advancing overnight and group sales in partnership with Visit Fort Collins
  • align on priority tourism investments to leverage the city’s recently established Tourism Improvement District

The City of Fort Collins is nestled between Northern Colorado’s Front Range and Interstate 25. Although the city prides itself on offering the 3Bs - Bikes, Bands, and Brews - the dynamic nature of this destination is centered on its overall livability. Colorado State University, unique boutiques, restaurants, and corporate centers have all benefited from the local quality of life, and the strength of these tourism assets has often positioned Fort Collins atop “best places” lists.

VFC is the official destination organization for the City of Fort Collins. 70% of the 3% lodging tax collected within city limits is invested into tourism programs that are administered by the six-person VFC staff. Additionally, a 3% Tourism Improvement District was enacted in 2021 to increase funding for VFC and enable new tourism investments that advance industry competitiveness and aid recovery initiatives. 

VFC was paired with Tina Valdecanas and David Holder, principals at Clarity of Place, a destination consulting firm with experience in destination marketing, organizational efficiency, and tourism development, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop.

Visit Fort Collins also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. VFC hosted two 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 

VFC supported the development of a recovery assessment consisting of background research and input from the core team.

VFC convened nine tourism stakeholders on November 17, 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 were directly connected to the new Fort Collins Tourism Improvement District (FCTID) and represented a wide range of lodging properties operating within the boundary of the FCTID. 

Workshop participants engaged in a small group activity to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that benefit the FCTID members in Fort Collins. The group came to collective agreement on the need to identify priority strategies for VFC to advance tourism marketing and sales initiatives as the administrator of the FCTID.

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:

  • enhance visitor experience
  • optimize group sales
  • increase destination marketing
  • strengthen organizational stability

CRAFT Mentor Project Results

Following the workshop, VFC was paired with Clarity of Place, a CRAFT Mentor with experience in destination marketing and management, and tourism advocacy, to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to develop a process to establish a community-wide brand that highlights the quality of place promise associated with Fort Collins.

The project objectives include: 

  • support the distribution, collection, and review of agency proposals to foster a competitive search process for the most appropriate branding agency

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

  • list of relevant branding agencies and an understanding of their capabilities and examples of past work 
  • request for proposal (RFP) to solicit responses from qualified branding agencies 
  • convene a branding committee composed of community and business leaders to guide the brand development process and select a vendor
  • receive, review, and score all submitted proposals 
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.