The Aspen Chamber Resort Association will be distributing thousands of $25 gift cards to visitors this summer as part of its tourism recovery efforts.
The gift cards can be used at any participating business in the city of Aspen, Aspen Highlands or the Aspen Business Center and can be redeemed by merchants for cash from ACRA at the end of each month. The program is being funded as part of the $500,000 tourism recovery effort ACRA has planned for the summer and fall, which is supported with a $200,000 loan from the city of Aspen’s general fund.
The budget for the gift card initiative is $150,000. Six thousand of the cards will be distributed to Aspen lodges and property management companies, with 1,000 more to be given out by ACRA visitor services, according to Eliza Voss, ACRA director of marketing. She added that the chamber expects about 20% of the cards to go unused. They are valid through Dec. 31, 2020.
“This program compliments the city of Aspen’s program which was distributed to residents, by providing visitors with incentives to shop locally and assist in the economic recovery efforts into our community,” Voss said in a press release, referencing $25 gift cards sent earlier this month to all city of Aspen households that received a 2020 food tax refund. Those cards — a $50,000 program — must be used by July 10.
The broader ACRA tourism recovery effort, green-lit by Aspen City Council in May, includes a $100,000 regional marketing campaign, $50,000 for messaging on how to minimize COVID-19 risk while traveling, a $50,000 “shop local” campaign and $50,000 each for group sales and public relations.
The budget also includes $50,000 for summer activations, the first of which is this weekend’s Movies at the Meadows pop-up drive-in cinema. More creative programming adaptations that adhere to prescribed social distancing guidelines are in the works to meet pent-up demand with most of the summer’s signature events called off — “however, we have been limited by what is permissible under the public health order thus far,” Voss wrote in an email.
Each individual serial-numbered gift card may only be used one time at one location. No change should be given for the card as it must be used on a single purchase. Returns are for store credit only, according to the program’s rules.
Businesses do not need to sign up to participate and may opt out of accepting the cards. The cards are not limited to ACRA members. Businesses need to collect the physical card at the point of sale. Businesses must redeem the cards for payment with ACRA at the end of each month.
Local lodging properties receiving the cards are free to market and distribute them to guests at their discretion, says ACRA’s press release. Each property receives the cards based on a formula quantifying the percentage of the total room count contributed to the overall Aspen hotel room count. For example, the Limelight Hotel room count makes up 6% of the total bed base in Aspen, so it will receive 6% of the 6,000 hotel cards, for a total of 360, Voss shared. Professionally managed condo properties such as Frias or Aspen Luxury Rentals that remit lodging tax also are included in the bed base count.
More information on the gift cards can be found online at aspenchamber.org/giftcards.