Denver: Agent to Agent

Agents who want to boost their sales to the Mile High City would be wise to sell it as a "two-for-one" destination, say retailers who successfully sell the Denver area. It's just as important for agents to familiarize themselves with nearby ski areas as it is to stay on top of developments in the city itself, they say.

"When people come in, we tell them how they can combine a visit to a really cosmopolitan city with beautiful scenery and great skiing, all very convenient to each other," says Joan Coupe, owner of Hereford Travel Center in Hereford, Texas.

Although the mountains are "a big draw" and her agents travel to the area frequently for skiing, Coupe, who lived in Denver for a while, says she enjoys telling clients about Denver's many cultural activities -- museums, art galleries, theater and music -- and also what a good value it is. "We don't have many high-end clients, so we always look for good value," says Coupe.

In Denver, according to Coupe, costs for such travel expenses as accommodations and dining compare very favorably with other cities. "And, as I tell my clients, I honestly don't know where you can go in the U.S. for better skiing. We usually recommend Vail and the Keystone region, which has something like five ski areas."

Coupe says she likes the new Denver airport and tells clients about its advantages. "It's much safer, especially in the winter months, than the previous airport; it's easy to get in and out of, and though people complain there are no hotels, they're being built now. It's further out than Stapleton, but I remind people that when DFW was first built, people said ... negative things, and just look at it now."

For agents who are serious about selling the Denver area, Coupe recommends spending a weekend there and focusing on three goals: exploring the city, visiting the ski areas and inspecting the airport.

Jack Ramsen, president of International Tours of Austin in Austin, Texas, says that his agents are also knowledgeable about Denver itself and the ski areas, though his office sells skiing as "the main attraction."

"We have a couple of avid skiers in our office who stay on top of developments and new facilities. They visit on their own in addition to going on fam trips."

Ramsen says that his agents are very diligent about attending all the important ski shows, to stay up to date on new developments. Being aware of competitive air fares is also important if agents want to be sure to get their clients the best deals, Ramsen advises.

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