Businesses on board for Vail marketing push |

Businesses on board for Vail marketing push

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Vail Deals 01 TS 12-04-08

VAIL, Colorado ” The town of Vail’s $550,000 plan to draw visitors to Vail, Colorado is under way, and many local lodges, restaurants and businesses say they are on board.

The town is organizing and funding the winter marketing campaign in partnership with Vail Resorts to target Front Range skiers and past Vail passholders in an effort to bolster business during what is expected to be a tough winter for business.

The campaign has several parts. A “Ski free, stay free” deal was launched in early November that advertised buying two days of lodging and skiing and getting the third day free.

Vail Economic Development Manager Kelli McDonald said Vail Mountain has already reported a 7 percent increase in bookings since the deal began.

Another part uses e-mail, Internet and print and broadcast ads to target current and former buyers of Vail ski passes on the Front Range and East Coast. Vail Resorts is sending “e-mail blasts” to potential skiers and heavily marketing the upcoming Vail Snow Daze events as part of the promotion.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

The third part, a new Web site launched on Wednesday, showcases a variety of lodging, restaurant and shopping deals from local businesses who have agreed to be part of the campaign.

So far, 50 lodges or property management companies and 65 businesses have signed on, McDonald said. The Web site and the deals will be updated monthly, so businesses can join the campaign or change their deals each month.

The goal is to get people who would usually come up just to ski for the day to maybe stay overnight and spend money shopping and eating out, Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland said.

“We have always relied on destination guest,” he said. “Now we want to market to the people who can drive to us. It’s to get the Denver guest to be an overnight guest.”

Buzz’s Ski Shop and Buzz’s Boards in Vail Village is one business involved in the promotion, offering 10 percent off all retail and 30 percent off all rentals that are paid in cash.

In tough economic times, the deal is one way to draw people in, said Buzz Schleper, the shop’s owner.

“You’re always looking for deals when you’re on vacation,” Schleper said. “We want to try and stretch people’s dollar a little further.”

The promotion is launching during what Billy Suarez, owner and manager of Billy’s Island Grill in Lionshead, called one of the slowest post-Thanksgiving weeks he’s seen.

The restaurant is offering 30 percent off all bottles of wine and entrees through Dec. 11. Suarez said early December deals are common, but with the tough economy, he “beefed up” the promotion as part of the marketing campaign.

“We wanted to make sure we participated in this campaign,” he said. “And we want to let people know we’re willing to give a little to get people to come out.”

Many lodges are reporting slow bookings, and some hope the discounted rates combined with good snow will get the phones ringing.

The Sitzmark Lodge in Vail is one participating hotel that is offering discounted room rates of up to 40 percent off, said General Manager Jeanne Fritch.

She said she thinks the hotel will really emphasize extra value to draw guests.

“We’ll probably look at not just cutting our rate, but conveying added value, throwing in dinners and discounts and just getting our name out,” she said.

Cleveland said he is pleased to see how many businesses are participating ” the town is providing the money to get the word out, but merchants still need to provide the deals, he said.

“I think the most encouraging thing is the level of commitment by the community,” he said. “The town can’t do it alone. This is an example of how the business community can get involved.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

Support Local Journalism