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Added Value is Automatic for Colorado Meetings

Denver Union Station; Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado project; hiking near Crested Butte; Levitt Pavilion Denver by Joel Rekiel; Boulder County Farmers Market


Find additional ideas and information about iconic places for a Colorado meeting and search for meeting venues by region or statewide.


Who doesn’t like a great deal, especially when meetings are on a budget or some extra décor or audiovisual touches would be nice? An easy place to find a wide variety of deals in Colorado is through Destination Colorado, a one-stop resource that is a helpful forum for planners to explore the best lodging, venue, destination and service options for groups of all types and sizes.

Colorado also offers a serious amount of automatic value, meaning planners can tap into resources that already exist, such as a jam-packed calendar of free concerts and festivals, public parks and pavilions, worthwhile community service projects, low-cost modes of transportation and more. Also make sure to connect with destination marketing organizations (DMOs) around the state for all sorts of ideas and in-kind services, especially before landing on a firm meeting or event date.

The following seven items are just a few things to ask DMO staff along with other industry pros around the state.

1. Community Service Projects

There are several great companies in Colorado that offer team-building activities with a CSR twist, but it’s also possible to organize activities directly with a nonprofit at no cost, other than the supplies and tools needed and perhaps a donation. Maintaining trails, building facilities for animal rescue leagues and helping prepare and serve a meal at a homeless shelter are good examples.

In 2017, more than 1,700 people took part in group volunteer opportunities at Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, with projects ranging from trail work and vegetation projects to fire fuel reduction work and litter cleanup.

2. Free & Inexpensive Happenings

Year-round there is music al fresco galore in the form of free concert series at ski resorts and parks, including the new Levitt Pavilion Denver in Ruby Hill Park. Avon LIVE! and Hot Summer Nights in the Vail Valley, Bands on the Bricks in Boulder, Thursdays at Civic Center Park’s Foote Lagoon in Loveland, Alpenglow in Crested Butte, Snowmass Free Summer Series, and Steamboat Free Summer Concerts are just a few examples.

Almost all Colorado communities host unique festivals that have no ticket price, only a charge for add-on activities, food and drink and other purchases, and it’s not just limited to only summer and fall. Winter means options like Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival , Wintersköl in Aspen, International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge and Parade of Lights in downtown Denver.

3. Farmers’ Markets & Orchards

Many times held on weekends but sometimes on other days as well, farmers’ markets are the place to find not only great local produce and foods but also baked goods, artists, musicians, meals and more. At Denver Union Station, just step out the front door on Saturdays from mid-May through mid-October. Check to see if one of your hotel’s chefs is willing to accompany a group to the farmer’s market and talk about what to buy and incorporate purchases into a cooking class or meal.

Several orchards on the Western Slope in Paonia, Palisade and Grand Junction offer pick-your-own experiences for reasonably-priced peaches, apples, cherries and more, depending on the season. Send attendees back to their rooms with these fresh snacks or incorporate them into breaks. 

4. Market Halls & Parks

All sorts of market halls are popping up around Colorado, especially in communities like Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. Give each attendee a set amount of money to spend as they wish at the food halls, instead of having a big catered dinner that requires décor, live entertainment and more. Attendees will love the choices and shopping, making it a fun night out. Come back all together at a beer hall, like the one available in Stanley Marketplace.

Another less-expensive option is a picnic at a public park pavilion. Choose parks that border a lake like in Aurora or feature a large collection of public sculpture like in Loveland. See if there are any concerts going on in a park that can be attended after the picnic is over.

5. Transportation

Look for communities that have transportation systems in place that are free or inexpensive. The Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley and Aspen/Snowmass both have free public bus systems, and RTD’s Free MallRide buses traverse the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. Telluride has offered a free scenic gondola ride from the historic town to Mountain Village, where the ski area is located, for more than two decades.

RTD also helps people get around the Denver metro area very inexpensively on buses and light rail, including the A Line that runs from downtown to Denver International Airport for only $9 one way. Pedicabs are another memorable and low-priced way to get attendees from a downtown hotel to an off-site event nearby.

6. Complimentary Services & Goodies

DMOs typically provide a variety of services for free, including a RFP process that includes all sorts of lodging and venue partners. DMO staff members also have a wealth of knowledge about suppliers and fun activities for groups while in town.

Also make sure to ask hotels about complimentary services such as free nightly receptions at the Kimpton’s Hotel Born and Hotel Monaco in downtown Denver and the various Embassy Suites around the state. The Ritz-Carlton, Denver recently introduced a tasty daily lobby presentation from 4–5 p.m. where guests can sample Rocky Mountain Green Chili Dip paired with house-fried tortillas, showcasing the flavors of green chilies from Pueblo.

Give attendees a heads up about free s’mores served from carts located at fire pits in the Snowmass base village from 3:30–4:30 p.m. in winter. At the end of the ski day in Beaver Creek, there are fresh chocolate chip cookies!

7. Get Outside

There is no cost to put on a comfortable pair of shoes and hit the many miles of hiking trails. Organizations like the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) offer free hikes daily in Aspen and Snowmass. Friends of the Dillon Ranger District also present a wide variety of free educational hikes throughout summer and fall ranging from wildflower, wildlife and mining history excursions to forestry and waterside walks. Typically, it doesn’t cost much to hire a guide anywhere for a hike or a yoga instructor to lead a class in a park or on a patio. 

 

Many cool Colorado experiences aren’t synonymous with big bucks. In fact, there are all sorts of options that are no cost or low cost, providing extra value for meetings and events and kudos for planners in the process!