Lodging Panel Considers Marketing/Funding Alternatives



Since its inception, the Prowers County Lodging Tax Panel has used a 2% pillow tax on motel room usage to fund advertising for specific events intended to draw visitors to the county for an overnight stay. This is a common practice used by almost every community in Colorado and neighboring states, although the percentage rate will vary. Over the years, the Panel has extended funding to cover contract fees for securing livestock for rodeo events or upfront payment to secure an event to appear in Prowers County. The average annual funding is in the neighborhood of $90,000, and for the most part the direct return on investment has been low.  For the past several years the Panel has gone through some belt-tightening periods while dealing with requests for increased funding from annual events or receiving requests months in advance of an event.  In some instances the Panel has pledged the funding, but postponed the award until it’s received one of four anticipated payments from the state each year based on quarterly tax assessments paid by the motel owners.

As an example, if a group receives $10,000 for advertising/marketing and brings in 100 people overnight at $65 per room, the 2% tax on the $6,500 generated amounts to $130 in the return to the Panel for future funding. An argument can be made that those 100 visitors will spend additional money at local retailers for such items as food, gas or a shopping visit to area stores.  The majority of funding comes from motorists passing through the region on a yearly basis who decide to spend a night in the county and then be on their way the next day.  Historically, it’s been the rodeos and some sporting events that have generated the most overnight stays.

For several months, the Panel has discussed using some of its funding to advertise areas of interest in the county in general beyond fairs, concerts, car shows or rodeos. Panel member, Chad Hart, has made inquiries into by-laws governing other, similar panels in Colorado counties, attempting to see how they’ve developed and used their funding.  This past Tuesday, May 21st, Bryan Jordan, of VistaWorks Destination Marketing visited with two different groups of citizens, brain-storming ideas on year-round attractions which are not tied to specific events.  “Quite often, local residents take for granted, areas of their community which might have an appeal to people from outside their region,” he explained.  A lot of the discussion focused on the means by which information about events or the locale can be generated, with most attendees feeling progress in social media technology over the past decade have become an accepted standard of ‘spreading the word’.  Some areas mentioned included farming and ranching, farm to table cooking events and historically oriented aspects of this part of the state.  Those attending believed there could be continued interest in those areas, but the current drawback was organizing them under specific leadership from which they could be capitalized.

Jordan said he’s representing four counties in southern Colorado and has worked closely with the Colorado Tourism Organization to help develop grant funding for destination marketing beyond the pillow tax revenues. He discussed grant funding and other marketing details with the Panel in executive session during their monthly meeting.

In regular session, the Panel approved funding for four requests which included: $2,500 for a Wild West Competitive Athletics Camp set for July 25-27, $3,300 for the local Colorado Welcome Center to host their counterparts from Julesburg in mid-September, $1,500 for the Holly Fair Ranch Bronc Riding competition on September 28th, and $500 for website development and marketing for the Spreading Antlers Golf Club Association.  The next Panel meeting will be Tuesday, June 18th at the Lamar Chamber of Commerce Offices.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureCity of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyCountyEconomyEntertainmentFeaturedRecreationTourism


About the Author: