How did three smaller Colorado towns— La Junta, Trinidad and Walsenburg— host a conference like the 2019 Southern Colorado Tourism Summit? The solution was taking attendees on the road and using transfer times as conference sessions.

Summit Snapshot 

The gathering kicked off with an evening reception at Koshare Museum in La Junta on April 3. It was all aboard the following morning at 7:45 a.m., and the 1.5-hour ride to Walsenburg gave passengers the chance to see the beauty of the low mesas and gulches in southeast Colorado and learn more about the geography, wildlife and history through speaker Tony Gurzick from Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

After two sessions and lunch in Walsenburg, the hour trip to Trinidad involved passing near the site of the Ludlow Massacre, a conflict resulting from a labor strike by coal miners. Carolyn Newman, a retired school teacher and past president of Huerfano County Historical Society, presented a dramatic interpretation of the famous Mother Jones and brought the tragedy to life.

In Trinidad, the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Art was utilized as a venue for a break, session and Taste of Trinidad, and attendees had the opportunity to explore downtown and hop aboard a trolley to see three local attractions.

On the nearly two-hour ride back to La Junta that evening, attendees were treated to “Saga of the Santa Fe Trail” by Rick Wallner, the retired chief of interpretation and visitor center services at Bent’s Old Fort. The summit wrapped up the following morning at Otero Junior College in La Junta.

Insights

“Our conference room with a view concept was a big success. It was amazing to me how quiet the inside of the motor coach was and even though there was Wi-Fi on the bus, no one was on their phone as we traveled between venues,” confirms Debra Malone, member of the summit planning committee. “There were small video screens for the viewing of videos and PowerPoints that were used for some of the on-bus presentations, and we brought on our own portable, cordless microphone.” socotourismsummit.com

 

Over the years, any corporate event planner can admit to spending countless hours researching the perfect venue or vendors for their gatherings. After attending or hosting hundreds of events, New York-based Daphne Hoppenot was no stranger to this research and was frustrated by its repetitive nature. However, it was planning her wedding in 2018 that pushed her to realize the lack of resources in the corporate events market compared to the wedding industry, and set out to see if other meetings and events professionals were struggling with the same problem.  

 

Freelancing has become a new ball game since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as many companies cannot afford to keep full-time positions, but still need those tasks completed. Although many more professionals have had to join the freelancing community since March, Tracy Judge had the passion for the freelancing community two years ago–long before the pandemic hit–and founded her company Soundings Connect in order to directly connect meetings and events industry freelancers with customers. 

 

Location: Less than an hour away from Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder, Longmont is very much centralized on northern Colorado’s Front Range. Made up of a combination of certified creative and historic downtown districts and St. Vrain State Park on its outskirts, Longmont is a lively scene for those who appreciate a mix of urban and outdoor living.