Brotherhood picks Vail for "05 summit |

Brotherhood picks Vail for "05 summit

Cliff Thompson Daily Staff Writer

Up to 5,000 skiers are expected in Vail starting Feb. 5. That should be a business bonus for the Vail Valley because that’s typically a period when the resorts are not as busy as they are during the Presidents’ Day weekend a week later.

“Economically it benefits the entire business community,” said Bill Jensen, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer. “It fills thousands of beds with destination guests and stimulates restaurant and retail shopping.”

The organization keeps its priorities in perspective – its members have a good time, said Andrea Yowman, president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers.

“It’s an organization that parties with a purpose,” Yowman said. “We do a lot of power spending. It’s interesting to see the surge in spending at the resorts.”

The Brotherhood’s mission is to identify, develop and support athletes of color who will win international and Olympic winter sports competitions representing the United States. The organization last held its summit here in 1997.

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“Because of the size of the group they get very competitive pricing,” Jensen said.

This year, the Brotherhood held a mini-summit in Copper Mountain. The group changes the location of its biennial summit.

It’s the spending power of the Brotherhood, which is made up of 84 different, urban ski clubs, that makes resorts compete for its business. It’s estimated the annual summit can inject as much as $4.7 million into the economy of the host community.

Yowman said lodging expenses alone for the group can total $2.2 million while travel, shopping and other off-mountain expenditures make up the balance. The organization and its members annually spend $16 million skiing and on ski-related activities, she said.

There are 10,000 active members of the Brotherhood and a total of 20,000 who follow the organization’s activities. It has a first-time skier retention rate of 75 or 80 percent. That’s significantly higher than the 15 to 20 percent retention rate reported by the industry itself.

Forty percent of the members are male while 60 percent are female. Fifty percent of the members have household incomes of $75,000 or more and 20 percent have incomes exceeding $100,000.

It took Vail Resorts 13 month of negotiation to secure the contract with the Brotherhood, said Daren Cole, director of national sales. The company found itself in the enviable position of not losing the bid to a competitor. Keystone was the other bidder, Cole said. Still, Vail had to discount and offer other incentives to secure the Brotherhood’s business.

“They feel Vail has he draw, the town, night life and the mountain that members want,” he said.

While the group is in Vail it will be using Dobson Arena for its nightly functions, Cole said.

Yowman said the Brotherhood’s social functions are one of the main things bring new skiers back to the mountain.

“We have a really big social aspect that helps us with the retention rate,” she said.

Attracting young skiers, aged six to 10, through the Brotherhood’s outreach program, is one of the best means to ensure the organization’s mission will be achieved, she said.

“We want to expose African Americans to the ski industry,” she said.

Cliff Thompson can be contacted via e-mail at or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

Booming Brotherhood

The National Brotherhood is the largest singe winter sports organization in the country. For more information about the Brotherhood, visit:

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