Deanne Steven, Tourism Rossland, a multi-coloured whiteboard and a look back a the year that was

Tyler Austin Bradley
By Tyler Austin Bradley
December 1st, 2010

Deanne Steven has a tough job. Her whiteboard, unlike my bare naked one, is full of multi-coloured dates, reminders, and to-dos. 

On this Wednesday morning, it’s a good thing she’s an early riser and a self-described “morning person”; her get up and go attitude help offset my admittedly haggard early morning manners.
Deanne produces all documentation and pie charts pertaining to Tourism Rossland’s annual general report/meeting in the blink of an eye, runs me through the events of the past year in two blinks’ worth. For a semi-retired scribe working hard at hardly working, it’s all a little overwhelming.
Deanne’s desk, while neat and organized, overflows with the workload one would imagine comes part and parcel with promoting our wee mountaintop hamlet to the world. Stacks of paper mirror the Seven Summits, and I wonder to myself, re Ms. Steven, “are you epic enough?”
“This is the third year (Tourism Rossland) has been in operation,” Deanne explains. “We work collaboratively with all Rossland-based tourism stakeholders, including Red Mountain, accommodation providers, the arts council, museum, Redstone, the city, and so on.”
Our homegrown destination marketing organization is essentially on the hook, phone, Internet and horn in mind of drawing tourists to town. No easy task amidst uncertain economic times, but Deanne remains upbeat and enthused about what the coming four seasons may bring.
“I really like going through all the numbers at once, having an opportunity to see how we’re doing,” she states, referencing the numbers for overnight visitors and additional data streams.
“Having those numbers, we can compare how we’re doing to Kimberley, Fernie, Revelstoke, Golden, and create a clearer picture of how we fit in within or alongside the Kootenay Rockies.”
“Our accommodation numbers were down 17.8% last year, which isn’t surprising when you consider the economic downturn. Golden actually saw their visits down 20%, but their success is tied more closely to how well Alberta is or is not doing.” 
Deanne sees a positive trend taking place this past year, though, citing that, “This year, our numbers were actually up 5% over the four year average.”
The amount of traffic that the Tourism Rossland website is seeing is also cause to crow about (up 17.5% over previous year), while social media efforts are attracting new Facebook followers and the like. Tweeting, twittering, et cetera sees Rossland with the second most popular Facebook page, per capita, in BC. Hyper-connected Nelson is the only locale beating us out.
Referring back to website visits, Deanne observes that the largest market of IP addresses paying stops to the site originate in Kelowna, then Vancouver and Calgary respectively. This suggests that the US is still reeling from the beating it has taken over the past two years; traditionally soft/easy market Spokane is way down the hits-list.
It occurs to me that in order to curry even more favour with the expanding Kelowna market/interest, we ought to consider making them feel more at home by renaming the hill “Big Red.” But I opt to keep this marketing card/concept/gem close to my chest. I’m not giving this stuff away for free [editor’s note: oops].
And Tourism Rossland operations are not free, either. Funded by the Red Mountain Resort Association, the City of Rossland, collection of the AHRT Tax and various government grants, the registered non-profit (as registered non-profits are wont to do) runs on as much goodwill, gumption and stick-to-itness as cold hard cash. The office space on Columbia is bustling by 8:30 AM and the projects coming down the pipe are propelled by the best of what our area has to offer.
“We’re promoting our Nordic skiing, backcountry and trails system, too,” Deanne nods. “Black Jack provides such a great product, and Paulson, too, while it’s much different, offers something very unique.”
Sweet winter trail maps of local XC and backcountry options are now available at Kootenay Nordic Sports.
Forecasting for the year ahead and keen to crunch numbers from the past three months (there is a three month lag-time between actual visits made and the transfer of said data to Tourism Rossland), Deanne is already working on revising summer trail maps given our ever expanding trail system (thanks KCTS and friends!).
Winter Carnival, too, is also on the Tourism Rossland radar. But how do you top last year’s visitation from Rick Mercer short of resurrecting Olaus Jeldness? 
“We’re trying to get Jesse Giddings, a Much Music VJ to come out for Winter Carnival. He’s a snowboarder, and is from the west coast.”
Hmm. From his Much Music bio:
“Langley, BC, native Jesse Giddings moved to Toronto to pursue a BIG dream: becoming a MuchMusic VJ. And the timing couldn’t have been better. Just after Jesse made the move, he caught the eye of MuchMusic producers at an open casting call earlier this year. Yielding his knowledge of music, unmistakable charm, and social network savvy Jesse ultimately scored the best job on television.”
Big things, people. To the tune of “The Jeffersons” theme music: “Gidding on up… to the North side…”

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