Vail guest survey good news for last winter

Booking decisions were altered by the COVID-19 pandemic

The line grows for Gondola One on Saturday, Feb. 28. Despite challenges with snowfall and COVID-19, Vail’s “net promoter score” for the most recent ski season was a healthy 74%.
Chris Dillmann/

Based on a survey of guests, Vail did pretty well over the COVID-19 ski season.

Chris Cares of RRC Associates, a Boulder-based market research and consulting firm, recently presented the Vail Town Council with the results of a winter season survey.

The survey methodology changed for last winter. In past years, guests were surveyed in person. The most recent survey was done online.

The survey detailed where guests lived, whether they were day or overnight visitors, how they came to Vail and how they accessed the mountain.

Unsurprisingly, 65% of all respondents had some sort of Epic Pass. Most visitors — 73% — also stayed overnight. Visitors generally had higher household incomes. In all, 37% of respondents had annual household incomes of $200,000 or more.

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Using data from lodging consultants Destimetrics, the survey also tracked lodging occupancy. Occupancy was down from the previous season through March, but those numbers were skewed by the virtual shutdown of the tourist economy in March 2020.

While occupancy was lower than the 2019-2020 ski season, counts increased at the town’s parking structures in Vail Village and Lionshead.

One of the biggest changes in the visitor profile was in where guests decided to stay. Nearly half of respondents said COVID-19 had changed where they stayed. Many of those people were “looking for safety,” Cares said.

Guests have seemed to notice Vail’s environmental sustainability efforts, with nearly two-thirds of respondents saying the town was “environmentally friendly.”

Guests also seemed understanding of the town’s COVID protocols, with 71% saying the town’s pace of lifting restrictions was “about right.”

The survey also measured respondents’ “net promoter” scores. Those scores, widely used in the tourism industry, are used to measure guest satisfaction on a 10-point scale. Those who give the highest scores — 9s and 10s — are viewed as “promoters.”

Overall, 74% of respondents gave the highest scores. Cares’ report noted that’s a decline from past surveys, noting that was the likely result of a “combinations of frustrations with snowfall (early season) and the challenges of the pandemic.”

While there’s a lot of data in the report, some council members told Cares they’d appreciate a more detailed breakdown of some of the numbers.

Council member Brian Stockmar said he’d appreciate a breakdown of shopping numbers to evaluate what’s being spent at grocery stores and other retailers.

While Cares noted that Epic Pass holders tend to spend “significantly more” than other guests, council member Travis Coggin noted that the overall breakdown shows day visitors spending just $5 less per day than overnight visitors.

Council member Jenn Bruno asked if future surveys could find out how the average guest spent just $46 per day on food.

“Can we ask, ‘Where are you eating for $46 a day’ so I can eat there?” Bruno asked.

By the numbers

73%: Survey respondents who were overnight visitors.

65%: Survey respondents who had any type of Epic Pass.

37%: Survey respondents with annual household income of $200,000 or more.

22%: Survey respondents who live in Colorado.

Source: RRC Associates

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