With the ski season here, the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council already has its sights set on summer 2013. With planning under way for next summer, it provides us with a great opportunity to look back at the success of our efforts in 2012.
The council is responsible for creating economic vitality, primarily in the spring, summer and fall. The council's $2.3 million marketing effort to support these seasons is paying off with near-record sales tax collection, growth in lodging occupancy, a robust summer calendar of events and the year-round strength of the Vail brand.
The town is reporting record sales tax collection figures for 2012 in the important summer months of June, July and August, with June posting the largest increase at 7.6 percent more than the previous year.
In addition to the sales tax collection in 2012, the town of Vail reported growth in lodging tax revenue, which funds the advisory council's efforts. Lodging tax collection through August was up by 10 percent in 2012.
The momentum of our summer efforts can be attributed to a robust calendar of events, an aggressive group sales effort and a sophisticated summer marketing program.
The coordination between the marketing council and the Commission on Special Events has made a big difference in ensuring the community offers a world-class event platform. From bringing in events to fill need periods to maximizing marketing resources to drive event attendance and participation, the two organizations have become more synergistic in the last year and a half.
In summer 2012 alone, the marketing council worked with the Commission on Special Events to bring five new events to Vail: Vail Rocks, Grandfondo Cannondale Vail, Season of Song, Tour of Vail and the NRC Family Fun Fair. These events brought more than 5,000 participants to the community.
Additional positive gains in summer are indicated by the growth in lodging occupancy. As reported by MTRIP, lodging occupancy and average daily rate showed positive gains throughout the summer, with September up 10.5 percent in occupancy and 3.1 percent in average daily room rate. Revenue per available room is also up with an 11.5 percent increase for the last six months of 2012.
Group sales efforts have accounted for more than $2.5 million worth of business on the books year to date through September 2012, which is a more than 37 percent growth from 2011.
Just as Vail Resorts has made a concerted effort to attract international visitors to Vail in the winter, the marketing council is expanding its reach internationally, to Mexico and South America. This summer, we had an aggressive outreach program with wholesalers and media in Mexico. We hosted a number of events in-market and brought key opinion leaders, wholesalers and media to Vail to experience our community in the summer and fall.
Another barometer of how Vail is doing in the summertime is the town of Vail's Intercept Study, which is conducted by Vail Resorts on behalf of the town and funded by the marketing council every two years. The goal of the study is to gain a picture of where town of Vail visitors stay and how satisfied they are with their experience. The study also indicates which summer events and activities visitors participate in while visiting the community.
The survey found that:
• The town of Vail net promoter score is considerably higher than two years ago, when the study was last conducted.
• More visitors report that they are staying in Vail, versus staying in neighboring communities.
• The mean income of the Vail summer visitors is more than $5,000 higher this summer compared to two years ago.
• Guests continue to indicate that they visit Vail for events and activities, with hiking topping the list with 49 percent of visitors.
The positive survey results and increase in net promoter score could not have been achieved without the combined efforts of the community, including merchants, employees, restaurants, event producers, etc.
It's the quality of programming and exceptional service that is provided throughout Vail that keeps our guests coming back year after year. For that, we thank our partners in the community for their ongoing efforts to raise the bar every year and continually provide our visitors with a memorable vacation experience.
The seamless integration between the winter and summer brand has become a major factor in creating a strong year-round consumer brand. Vail Mountain has worked closely with the marketing council to ensure that the Vail logo is consistent throughout the year, that social media efforts are coordinated and that vail.com is the consumer website year-round.
We all recognize the importance of this strategy. Summer remains a great opportunity for Vail, with exciting new programs like Epic Discovery planned in the coming years.
As we celebrate Vail's 50th anniversary, it's exciting to see that the community's overall economic vitality is healthier than many of its competitors. I believe the Vail brand in summer continues to strengthen year after year. The marketing council plans to build on this strength and continue the positive momentum that's been created as we plan for summer 2013 and beyond.
Beth Slifer is the chair of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council.