PHOTO: 2021 Pagosa Springs Area Tourism Council meeting.
Read part one
When I wrote parts one and two of this editorial series, I did not have a copy of a recent “letter” sent to the Pagosa Springs Board of County Commissioners and the Pagosa Springs City Council by some tourism-related businesses demanding changes to the way tourism operates. Pagosa Springs Area Council.
I was generously provided a copy by County Commissioner Ron Maze yesterday.
As to whether the Board of Tourism and its staff have done an adequate job of promoting tourism in Pagosa, I think Commissioner Maez and I agree. Yes, we had a lot of tourists.
However, we may disagree on whether the entire community has actually suffered from too much tourism.
The travel business letter begins like this:
The following letter summarizes the collective views and suggestions of lodgers located in the City of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. In light of the current situation where the Pagosa Springs City Council and Archuleta Commissioners will be working to revise their Joint Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism, we as lodgers would like to share our feedback and suggestions. At the tourism meeting in September 2023 lodgers were encouraged to come together and bring a joint message of what we would like to see from the tourism board. At the same meeting, the county informed the board of its intention to withdraw from the city-county partnership because there are questions about how the funds are being spent. As the MOU will be reviewed, please see the following recommendations from Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County lodgers.
You can download the letter from here.
As mentioned in part two, the letter lists 25 businesses… but some of the owners list multiple businesses.
Elk Trace Bed and Breakfast
West End Lodge
Healing waters and resort
Bed and Breakfast at Elkwood Manor
Cabins by the fire
El Camino Lounge and Grill
The Springs Resort and Spa
(Shelly and Jason’s STR LLC?)
Rio’s Riff Raff
Riff Raff Brewing Co.
The neon duck
Pagosa River Domes
High Creek Lodge
Melissa Moeller, local owner of STR
Olivia Modern, owner of local STR
Nicole and Pete Macomber, local owner of STR
Jacques Aragon, local owner of STR
Jennifer Pitcher Local owner of STR
Angelina Waterman, owner of local STR
Michael Collins, local owner of STR
For example, the Nightingale Motel, The Neon Mallard, Pagosa River Domes and High Creek Lodge are part of the same team of investors. Same with Riff Raff Brewing, Riff Raff on the Rio and Shelly and Jason’s STR LLC; same owners. Ditto, El Camino Lounge and SOCO Motel; same owners and location.
So it actually looks like only 19 business groups are represented…in my humble opinion, a pretty poor representation of the approximately 1,600 businesses located in Archuleta County.
But as they say, the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease.
The letter makes seven specific proposals, including this:
1. Engage a third-party expert to provide the following:
a. Benchmarks/Best Practices Best for Pagosa Area Tourism — Establish clear metrics against which the tourism department should measure its performance to determine its effectiveness — ROI, KPIs, website traffic, conversions, due to tourism efforts etc. using industry best practices. An expert should know them, and you’ve heard many of them from the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO).
I know most of the 19 business teams that signed the letter personally and would generally classify them as highly intelligent, ambitious and business savvy. Obviously, they all want to see the tourism industry flourish.
That being said, I seriously doubt that many of them have “engaged a third party expert” (from somewhere? for some dollar amount?) to establish business metrics and performance measures for your own business. My guess is that these smart, ambitious, business savvy owners know their own business better – and more importantly, know Pagosa Springs better – than any “third party expert”. Of course, I could be wrong about that.
Yet here we have these same smart, ambitious, business savvy people suggesting that a “third party expert” will understand the Pagosa tourism market and the complex history of that market better than our local staff at VisitPagosaSprings.com , with decades of Pagosa life experience?
Pardon me if I point out that a “third-party expert” was hired to write Pagosa’s 48-page “Destination Master Plan” in 2019 — and completely neglected to discuss the most serious problem of all: a severe housing shortage, to meet the needs of low-wage workers in the tourism industry.
The “Destination Master Plan” also fails to mention the second most serious problem: too many summer tourists for our limited tourism infrastructure.
The letter from the 19 business groups also fails to mention those two issues: the workforce housing crisis and overcrowded summer conditions.
The letter also states:
In addition to reporting on the implementation of the plan, the tourism department must provide regular (monthly) reports to the public using performance indicators established by a third-party expert as industry best practices.
As we discussed in Part Two, three of the key performance indicators used in resort communities to analyze tourism trends—occupancy, average daily rate, and revenue per available room—must be provided by each individual lodging company. But Pagosa lodging businesses have stubbornly refused to provide that data for the Tourism Board and officials to analyze.
So, with all this in mind, I would like to write next about cigarette smoking…
Because I see a connection.
Read part four, tomorrow…
Bill Hudson began sharing his views in the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 and I can’t seem to kick the habit. He argues that in Pagosa Springs, opinions are like pickup trucks: everyone has one.