By Beth Buehler
Colorado is a treasure trove of golden opportunities for groups of all sizes and types. Are you ready to investigate the options but aren’t sure where to start? Here are three basic tips for getting the process in motion.
Pick a destination that fits your group. Think about if your group would enjoy a city, medium-sized community or mountain town. Will your itinerary mainly feature fun activities or are meetings a big part of the schedule? Are people flying, driving or riding in a motor coach that you need to reserve? Are they open to the idea of taking a train like Amtrak’s California Zephyr that runs the length of Colorado and even staying in two towns connected by trains—it could be a Denver and Winter Park or Glenwood Springs combination on the Zephyr or the Amtrak Winter Park Express or a Durango and Silverton outing via the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
A great place to start “shopping” for group travel possibilities in the state is Destination Colorado’s website, here. The communities listed in the destination section are experienced in hosting groups, so that takes one big question out of the picture.
Work with the local destination marketing organization. Once your list of possible Colorado destinations is narrowed down, head straight for the destination marketing organization (DMO) in each town, which is typically in the form of a convention and visitors bureau, tourism office or Chamber of Commerce.
Many Colorado DMOS have sales teams that are well-versed in working with groups and connecting them with lodging partners, venues, service providers (e.g., caterers, audio-visual companies, photographers, etc.) and activities that match the needs and dates desired. DMOS also can provide a variety of other helpful services to planners such as marketing materials and site tours.
Select venues and suppliers that excel at working with groups. Serving groups is quite a bit different than working primarily with leisure travelers. Terms like room block, request for proposal (RFP) and room capacity should be very familiar to the entities you are communicating with. I’m a big fan of site visits so you can experience the community, meet the people who you might work with, and see hotels, restaurants and attractions being considered.
Time isn’t always available to take care of all of this on your own or maybe you don’t feel comfortable making all the arrangements. This is when a destination management company (DMC) or meeting and event planning company can be a lifesaver. These organizations work with groups, large and small.
Follow these three steps when planning a group travel trip in the Centennial State and you are well on the way to an outing that will be remembered and applauded for years to come.
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.