Events take center stage in Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Special events are becoming better than a prime time television ad in terms of local marketing – they’re why people often come to Vail, and more importantly, why they stay.
The town of Vail, Vail Mountain and the Vail Valley Foundation have recognized the importance of special events in town for years, but with an economic slump still lingering, events are as important as ever.
Sybill Navas, the town of Vail’s special events coordinator, said the town’s Commission on Special Events and the Vail Local Marketing District have made a commitment to use events as the marketing platform in town.
Vail Resort has also embraced that model, with a lineup of more special events this year than last.
“Everybody’s realizing that if you have something to offer people that differentiates you from other places, then people are going to come,” Navas said. “My personal opinion is that sales tax numbers are up because we’ve been entertaining.”
The power of events is obvious in some of the scheduling decisions for the upcoming winter, which include moving the Street Beat free concert series from Wednesday nights to Thursday nights.
The idea is that Front Range guests might decide to come up to Vail on Thursday evening and book that extra night in a hotel.
“They’re already playing hooky on Fridays anyway,” Navas said.
The Vail Valley Foundation, which puts on the event, also moved the start time from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., said Mike Imhoff, vice president of operations and sales for the Vail Valley Foundation.
“It was a collective community decisions that the lodging community, Vail Mountain marketing, the town of Vail and others made – we’re trying to zero in on Street Beat as a possible catalyst for driving Front Range business,” Imhoff said.
The Foundation looked at which nights might be best for inspiring more Front Range lodging packages to get booked. The thought behind the decision is that Thursdays are closer to the weekend, and a later start time, even by just half an hour, can give people extra time to drive up to the mountains.
“Now we can reach out to the Front Range with the message to start your weekend early,” Imhoff said.
Vail Mountain Marketing Director Adam Sutner told the Vail Economic Advisory Council earlier this month that one idea on the table is to market a Thursday through Saturday night package to Front Range guests with a favorable hotel rate, some on-mountain values and maybe a free parking spot in a participating hotel.
Vail Mountain is also hosting a new holiday event this year in addition to Snow Daze, called Hollidaze.
“Imagine a Snow Daze for families,” Sutner said. “Vail is the place to be in December – it’s just going to be a killer campaign.”
Events aren’t just for capturing Front Range business, either. Vail Mountain is planning a night-time camp next April done in Spanish in order to offer something for the Mexican guests that come here in droves near Easter every year.
There’s a challenge in general this season with the calendar, Sutner said. Christmas falls on a Saturday, President’s Day is Feb. 21, CarniVail and Fat Tuesday are now in early March and there’s an elongated spring break season this year, which will last for just about the entire month of March.
Then Easter comes very late this year, on April 24, which will also be Vail’s closing day.
“We’re managing (the challenging calendar) with events,” Sutner said.
Kelli McDonald, the town of Vail’s economic development manager, said the use of events has proven to be successful especially in the summer months – the time of year the Vail Local Marketing District has focused on bringing in special events in order to drive business.
“When there is an event going on, the best we can tell is that there is a spike in lodging occupancy,” McDonald said.
She said the town directed the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council to fund a study next summer during key events in order to verify attendance and economic impacts. McDonald said it will be a very tangible way to measure what many people in the town already believe – that special events really are major economic boosters.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.