Marketing district discusses motel shuttle service


ALAMOSA — To connect area motels with downtown businesses, the Alamosa County Local Marketing District Board is considering sponsoring a shuttle service.

The discussions are still in the beginning stages, and the service might not begin until the 2019 summer tourist season, but the marketing district board expressed interest in the idea during its recent monthly meeting.

Alamosa Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Kale Mortensen said the idea came out of discussions with SLV Development Resources Group staff who suggested a one-month trial to see how well a shuttle service would be received — and how much it would be used. The shuttle would run from motels like Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn and Rodeway Inn into the downtown area on Fridays and Saturdays.

“We want to make sure we are servicing all of our lodging properties,” he said.

It would utilize the 15-passenger Chaffee Shuttle vehicle, which is sitting in Alamosa on the weekends.

Mortensen said this would be a way of getting visitors from the motel clusters into downtown to shop.

Marketing District Board President Rob Oringdulph said this had been a topic of discussion with Adams State in the past, with the goal of getting students downtown, but he had not heard an update since former President Dr. Beverlee McClure left. He said he had also spoken with Hew Hallock and Kevin Wilkins with the development resources group about providing a shuttle from motels into the downtown area. A trial run could determine if it was worthwhile, he said, and if anyone would use it or not.

Oringdulph said hotel guests might appreciate being able to go downtown to the brew pubs without having to worry about driving back afterwards.

The shuttle service would be free to motel and hotel guests, but it would cost $250 a day to operate or $500 per weekend, Mortensen explained. It would only run Friday and Saturday in the afternoon until perhaps 10 p.m. or so, taking hotel guests from outlying hotels into the downtown area and back again.

Mortensen added that the marketing district could make an investment for a trial period, like one month, and then enlist the support of others in paying for the shuttle if it seemed to be successful and well utilized.

Marketing board member Jeff Owsley said one month might not be sufficient time to determine if the shuttle service would be successful. He added that something like this would require significant marketing on the part of the hotels to encourage guests to use it.

Owsley said the cost seemed expensive to him. He suggested contacting the new ASU president to see if Adams State would be willing to participate in the shuttle project and the cost. Oringdulph also suggested approaching the City of Alamosa for assistance, since more guests to the downtown area would boost sales tax.

Mortensen said it was a possibility to try this yet this year, perhaps in August and September when Adams State students would be back and Alamosa would be hosting the Early Iron Festival, which fills area hotels and motels.

Oringdulph said he thought six weeks would provide a better gauge than just a month, and he believed this would be a better project to consider for 2019. Six weeks of running the shuttle on weekends would cost $3,000. He said the hotel-to-downtown shuttle could be the start of something bigger. Others such as the city, county and Colorado Department of Transportation might support a broader transportation network, he said. The marketing district legally could only finance the hotel-to-downtown route, he added.

“The focus would always be getting people from the properties to downtown,” he said.

Mortensen said he would gather more information if the marketing board was interested in the proposal.

Owsley said he would want to see more information and would like to see other entities involved. “It seems we are taking all the risk the way it is right now,” he said.