Can Vail maintain summer momentum? | VailDaily.com

Can Vail maintain summer momentum?

VAIL, Colorado – Vail’s summer marketing plan will get some added muscle – meaning money and people – for 2013.

The Vail Town Council Tuesday agreed to a plan for the Vail Local Marketing District to spend about $2.57 million on summer marketing next year. That’s an increase of roughly $230,000 over this year’s budget.

The extra funds will be spent primarily on advertising and public relations to help lure destination and international guests, and will provide more money to attract group and meeting business.

Group and meeting business has fallen in most resort areas since the international financial meltdown of 2008. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions, many corporations made big cuts in their travel and meeting budgets.

Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Committee member Pete Hayda, who also is the area director of sales and marketing for Vail Resorts’ Vail collection. told the council that group business is the “biggest driver of our shoulder season,” adding that the business is starting to come back after the big drop from a few years ago.

To help lure that business, the 2013 budget will allow the district to hire a new employee. That person will work at the Vail Valley Partnership – which is already in the group-luring business – but will be dedicated to just Vail.

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The tab for the group sales effort will be about $100,000, split about equally between the employee, travel to conferences and the cost of hosting trips to Vail.

While some of the priorities have changed, the ultimate goal of the marketing district hasn’t changed – building summer business in Vail. Overall those efforts are seem to be working, since Vail’s occupancy numbers and sales tax collections have been growing for the past couple of years.

And programs have been filling up, too. Jamie Gunion of the Vail Recreation District told the council that the district’s programs for kids have been filling quickly. Adding more programs, and aiming those programs at visitors, is now constrained by lack of staff, she said.

While the town continues to try to draw out-of-state and international visitors, it will spend about the same amount next year on attracting overnight visitors from the Front Range, while aiming for a slight bump in the number of those guests.

That’s one of several goals set out by the district’s advisory committee. Others include boosting the percentage of out-of-state visitors, from 55.8 to 60 percent of the total, and rebuilding the number of international guests. While international guests in the winter continue to grow, the share of summer guests dropped by half from 2010 to 2012. Next year’s marketing hopes to get some of those visitors back.

The council was relatively quick in its approval of the marketing budget, something Mayor Andy Daly attributed to hard work between the town council and the district’s board.

“Six years of brutal questioning have produced a much more refined effort,” Daly said. “I’m encouraged by your efforts. This is an opportunity to lead, not follow, among mountain resorts.”