Bob Llewellyn: Vail’s brand brings summer visitors
There is no comparison, winter or summer: Vail is the best.From a marketing perspective, using the Theres no Comparison slogan for winter and summer provides Vail with consistency and focus. This simplifies the message to guests. While residents know that Vails summer is as compelling as Vails winter, it takes work to communicate this message and have it resonate with our guests, which is exactly what the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council is charged with. Formed in 1999, the councils mission is to attract visitors to Vail when the powdery-white landscape of the ski season gives way to wildflowers and golden aspens. As the winter focus is primarily on skiers, snowboarders and the mountain, the summer (and the shoulder season of May and October) presents us with many more opportunities to be creative with our marketing efforts. The question becomes How can we communicate all there is to experience in Vail during the summer months to our desired audience and do so in a cost-effective way? Since its formation, the council has asked itself this question and, in doing so, has evolved its marketing strategy from that of an image advertising approach to a much more results-oriented strategy that attempts to strike a balance between brand building (a long-term objective) and the short-term objective of luring guests to the destination at a given time. We are achieving this balance by implementing a marketing strategy consisting of advertising, public relations, an online presence and creative brochures to better marry the brand with the message. For example, this summer, the council and its partners developed promotional packages including Spad at Vail, Vail Family Mountain Adventure (in part with the Teva Games) and Vail at $81.50. These short-term promotions were designed to draw our Front Range guests to Vail during a certain time. They also were designed to use Vails Theres no Comparison tagline, reinforcing a consistent brand between summer and winter. Promotions were complemented by an online presence on http://www.vail.com in addition to PR efforts. Public relations is a critical part of our marketing strategy. While advertising plays an important role marketing Vails summer it is often difficult to convey all that Vail has to offer in the summer through an ad alone, particularly with limited funds. Advertising is even a riskier game to play in todays world that is riddled with devices like TiVo, which allows a consumer to tune out advertisers. Executed properly, public relations can personalize a desired message in a convincing, credible manner. This is particularly true with the customer Vail is hoping to reach. A recent example of the impact of PR is a media event at the Denver Art Museum held for Front Range journalists and hosted by communications professionals who work with the council to promote Vails summer. I attended on behalf of the council. In an inviting, first-class, yet casual way, these professionals spoke to key Denver media about events and activities guests can experience in Vail such as the summers collection of festivals including the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Vail International Dance Festival, the Vail Jazz Festival and more, art/gallery exhibits and other not to miss attractions. Media attending included Colorado Expressions, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, KUSA-TV, the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, the Denver Business Journal and KOA radio. Meeting with these journalists in a one-on-one setting allowed a connection to take place where Vails brand was communicated. In summary, the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council is aggressively marketing Vail with all the tools available to us. Like other standout brands such as Grey Goose or Coke, Vail has remained relevant because it has continued to evolve rather than chase fleeting trends. Maintaining this evolution is the key to Vails brand power.Bob Llewellyn is a member of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council.