Vail Daily column: Events help drive the summer resort economy
Ryan Summerlin June 5, 2014
Special events help drive the summer economy of Colorado’s resort communities.
This is likely no great surprise to business owners and town officials in the Vail Valley. We’re fortunate that the towns of Vail, Avon, Minturn, Eagle and Gypsum all recognize this and invest heavily in providing a great mix of sporting events, concerts, ambient family programming and markets that help provide a sense of community to the local population and one more thing to do for our visitors.
In addition to the municipal support, we’re fortunate to have numerous special districts and nonprofit organizations that support and/or produce special events. These include Beaver Creek Resort Co., Vail Recreation District, Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, Vail Valley Foundation, Bravo! Vail and the Vail Jazz Foundation.
This is a small list as there are many other groups that produce and manage events throughout the valley. Clearly, events are big business and an important component of our non-ski economy.
Ironically, research from Colorado Tourism Office (via Longwoods International) shows a decrease in travel for special events, and the Vail Local Marketing District recently reported a research study showing that special events were not a main motivator of visitation for out-of-state travelers. The major draw — indicated in both the CTO research and the local research — shows that “rest and relaxation” and “quality family time” are the reasons for a mountain vacation.
Does the result of these research studies mean we should re-evaluate our investment in special events or shift tactics to other efforts? Not at all. It’s important to keep in mind that many visitors, while maybe not traveling specifically for special events, are still participating in the events when they visit. Events provide a proof-point to the brand and provide energy and vitality for our communities, which isn’t easily measurable.
Research also shows that special events serve as a leading factor in guest intent to return and are a major factor for visitation from Front Range visitors. In fact, over 60 percent of Front Range visitors indicate that it is important to offer a variety of special events throughout the summer.
We’re fortunate to have the local infrastructure and capacity in place to have a robust summer event platform not easily rivaled by our competitive set communities throughout the mountains. The events draw in-state visitors, provide a vibrant and energetic community, enhance the experience of out-of-state visitors and ultimately help drive customers to our businesses and sales tax collections to our municipalities. While special events are not necessarily the main driver for our leisure vacationers, it’s important to note that they are an important component of the vacation experience for all our visitors.
Here at Vail Valley Partnership, we strive to fill a niche by helping recruit new programs and events to the area with a focus on participatory sports as well as groups and meetings.
Our group sales team helps coordinate meetings, business retreats, weddings and sporting events. We actively promote the valley as a top meeting location by traveling to our top destination markets including Dallas, Houston, New York and Chicago, as well as keep a constant presence in the Front Range. Groups and meetings play an integral part of our tourism economy.
We’re continuing the positive group sales momentum by bringing programs such as Ride the Rockies to the valley. Please be sure to join us, the town of Avon and the Vail Valley Charitable Fund at Nottingham Park in Avon on Wednesday, June 11 as we welcome 2,000-plus visitors to our valley.
Ride the Rockies entertainment will be located on the upper field in Nottingham Park and will includes a beer garden, cycling seminar, food vendors and live music. The schedule for Ride the Rockies is as follows:
1 p.m.: O’Dell Brewing Co. Beer Garden opens.
1-1:30 p.m.: Celebrate the Beat performs.
1:30-3:30 p.m.: Live Music featuring Joe and Terry Armistead.
4:00-4:30 p.m.: Avon Elementary School of Rock All-Stars perform.
4:30-4:45 p.m.: Denver Post Charitable Foundation check presentation.
4:45-6:30 p.m.: Cycling seminar.
6:30-8:30 p.m.: Live Music by Jake Wolf & Friends featuring Sweet Lillie’s.
9 p.m.: O’Dell Brewing Company Beer Garden closes.
The entertainment venue is open to the public and we invite you to join us for all of the festivities on Wednesday, June 11 from 1-9 p.m..
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.