Incentives Available for Meeting in Colorado
By Beth Buehler
With all the pressure on meeting and event budgets with increased costs for nearly every line item, attendees’ desire for local experiences, and requirements from bosses and clients to prove return on investment, having a little financial help can be a dream come true. Let’s look at some of the incentives that are available for meeting in Colorado.
State’s Rebate Program
The big one is the Colorado Meeting & Events Incentive Program, a statewide program offered through the Colorado Tourism Office with help from partners like Destination Colorado Meetings. But you’ll need to act soon as limited funds remain. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. When all funding has been obligated, remaining applications will be waitlisted.
The gathering must take place in Colorado before June 30, 2024 and completed applications should be submitted at least 45 days in advance of a meeting or event.
The Colorado General Assembly passed the $10 million Meeting & Events Incentive Program to assist in the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2021. The program provides pre-approved applicants with a 10% rebate (between $3,500 and $100,000) against the eligible hard costs of hosting meetings and events in Colorado. A few examples of eligible hard costs include venue rental, audiovisual support, food and beverage (except alcohol), registration and event management technology, entertainment and transportation. Lodging and resort fees are not eligible.
Events that will be considered include but are not limited to business meetings, conferences, conventions, exhibitions, trade shows, consumer shows, festivals, concert series and weddings that generate at least 25 room nights and have total eligible hard costs of at least $35,000. The gathering must be a new event contracted on or after April 6, 2021 or a previously booked/ recurring event at risk of being canceled, postponed or relocated outside of Colorado without support.
The applicant must be the primary organizer, host or planner and meet any additional criteria established by the Colorado Tourism Office, which is outlined on the Destination Colorado Meetings website. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. The Destination Colorado Meetings staff is available to help guide meeting and event organizers through the process.
Opportunities on the Local Level
Additional incentives for meeting in Colorado are available on the local level. One of the many benefits of working with destination marketing organizations is finding out about these incentives programs and free services provided to groups.
For example, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) will reimburse a planner’s site visit airfare up to $700 when sourcing a qualifying program through the organization for distribution to participating Aspen properties. The RFP must be for a minimum of 20 sleeping room nights at one of these properties. The offer applies to RFPs submitted through December 31, 2023. Reimbursement for airfare will be extended to one representative per program, and restrictions may apply.
In addition, ACRA will offset travel (air and ground transportation) for groups sourcing a qualifying program through the organization that again is distributed to participating Aspen properties. The offset happens through The Good Traveler, a carbon offset program that works to restore environmental balance by keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Wilderness Workshop is the approved nonprofit partner of The Good Traveler that receives funds from participating groups’ travel to Aspen. For the initial launch of this program, ACRA has committed up to $10,000 in donations.
Visit Boulder offers pre-approved cash incentives based on a client’s total room block to offset meeting-related expenses, ranging from $500 for 25-50 total room nights booked to $4,000 for 351-400 total room nights booked. The sales team is available to discuss additional funding and services for groups with more than 400 rooms. To qualify, Boulder must be competing against another destination; a standard hotel contract must be utilized; and an official offer letter from Visit Boulder must be issued. Payout cannot be made to an individual person, a form W-9 is required. Visit Boulder reserves the right to end the incentive program at any time.
Or submit an RFP and book your next event through Visit Fort Collins and receive a free welcome reception or cash back based upon room-night consumption, availability, and time of year. Up to $1,000 is available for 50-100 room nights, $3,500 for 101-500 room nights, and $5,000 for more than 500 room nights. Visit Fort Collins reserves the right to not offer the incentive if the determined criteria is not met.
Colorado has long been a bucket-list destination for travelers and groups seeking a taste of the West, impressive communities, outstanding cuisine, abundant outdoor activities, and beautiful scenery. Combine these standout features with the added bonus of financial assistance from the Colorado Tourism Office and local destination marketing organizations to make meeting in person a win-win for everyone involved.
Photo: A beautiful Boulder sunset with the Flatirons as a backdrop. Courtesy of Visit Boulder, photo by Fernando Boza.
Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 18 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and was on the team that introduced Southwest Meetings + Events this summer. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.