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Silverton urged to gussy up for high-end customers

Brief by Allen Best

Marketing – January 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Ridership was flat this year on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, but revenue was up 7 percent. How can that be?

“More riders were paying more for luxury on the train,” said Al Harper, owner of the excursion trains since 1998, at a recent Chamber function in Silverton. “The market is telling us there is an insatiable appetite for first-class service.”

Harper, reports the Silverton Standard, also said special events, such as a Polar Express-theme train that is expected to draw 17,000 customers, are a growing portion of the railroad business.

He also encouraged Silverton to develop more first-class hotel rooms, to draw customers willing to stay overnight. Currently, nearly all passengers arrive shortly before noon and depart by mid-afternoon.

“Most rooms now are decent, but not first class. This needs to be a $500-a-night per person package,” he said. First-class overnight rail packages could “revolutionize” businesses in Silverton’s business district, he said.