Visit Pikes Peak is Now Pikes Peak Region Attractions: or What’s Old Is New Again
By Executive Director PK Knickerbocker
Does that title remind you of a melodrama at Iron Springs Chateau? I hope for the same neatly wrapped up happy ending, but maybe with less booing and cheering along the way, possibly a surprise but slightly predictable twist that will make you grin. . .
A Little Background
When I took the helm at the end of 2015, we were known by two different names: Visit Pikes Peak on all of our social media and Pikes Peak Country Attractions everywhere else. This led to some obvious confusion, and personally drove me bananas! Partly out of concern for our social media channels, we opted to try Visit Pikes Peak as our main brand. Well that led to more confusion, and rightly so. Many visitors assumed we were Pikes Peak the mountain, and often assumed all our other member attractions were along the Pikes Peak highway. (We have five members who are heavily associated with Pikes Peak, so we are certainly a good resource to plan that trip — but we’re so much more and our members are scattered over three counties.) I’ll admit it, it was a rookie mistake, and one that we mean to correct.
So if not Visit Pikes Peak, then what? Pikes Peak Country Attractions Association is our legal name . . . do we change everything to that mouthful? And Country? I’m not sure that still resonates the way it used to. Locally this area is known as the Pikes Peak Region, and after many months and lots of brainstorming sessions, soul searching, and maybe a little hair tearing, Pikes Peak Region Attractions was the clear winner. Great. We have a brand new name!
Well, not two weeks after this new name was approved unanimously by the members did I find our original incorporation paperwork from 1973. Guess what our original name was. Pikes Peak Region Attractions. We’ve come full circle, which actually makes me really happy. Many things have changed over the last 46 years, but fundamentally, we’re exactly the same as the day we were founded. As a fourth generation westsider of Colorado Springs, that notion just thrills me to pieces. Progress and innovation is elemental, but honoring where we came from and staying true our original values is why we do what do. (And we kind of love what we do!)
Our Association was founded by a small group of local attractions back in 1973 as a collaborative effort to market the area to potential visitors. All but one of those original founding attractions are still members, though their seat on our board is held by a succeeding generation or two. Yes, our local attractions are hyper-local and truly a part of the region’s legacy. It’s an honor to be a part of this kind of local history.
The early 70’s saw a sharp decline in leisure travel to our area which had been one of our top industries since the 1890’s. Manitou Springs, just west of Colorado Springs and home to the largest number of our attractions, was one of the first tourist destinations west of the Mississippi. The oil embargo was largely to blame for the decline, so gas vouchers were a big part of our early promotional strategy. As association legend goes, the first Executive Director created the “Pied Piper” position. A gentleman dressed in cowboy boots and hat who loaded up his pickup truck and drove around the neighboring states delivering members’ brochures. I’ve had 4 different founding members tell me the exact same tale and each has emphasized the hat and boots. I suspect I know where the “country” came from.
What do we do here?
Today, our mission is to be the number one resource for things to do in the Pikes Peak region. Just like it was 46 years ago, we just go about it a little differently. We have 25 member attractions in the Pikes Peak region, which includes El Paso, Fremont and Teller County — or more notably — Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Cripple Creek and Canon City. Those 25 attractions pool their financial resources to support the association, run by myself and one other full time person, our Brand Coordinator Gianna West. We do as much as we can, but we also have some awesome local partners that help us with SEO, web development, and design our visitors guide that we do in conjunction with Visit Colorado Springs. This website, our social media channels and our Visitors Guide are our main focus, but we also still send out brochures and maps — just no gas vouchers 🙂
Because our attractions are scattered around three counties, it can be a little tricky to plan your vacation days. That’s where we come in. Gianna and I man, or woman rather, our live chat, the phones and the social media to answer your travel questions. What’s the best way to group the attractions day to day so you don’t spend your whole vacation in the car? How much time should you allow for each attraction? How should you dress? What do you not want to miss? And it’s easy to find the big guys, but what about our hidden gems you might not have heard about? We love Colorado Springs and all the wonder that surrounds us and we enjoy sharing it with new and returning visitors alike. Gianna is a millennial, I’m gen X and a mom — so we can cover lots of territory between the two of us. Follow us, shoot us an email, or chat with us online. We’re here to help!
Thanks for coming along for the ride!
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