Final figures in for 2015 World Championships
By the numbers
40.7: Average age of spectators.
6.2: Average stay of spectators.
95 percent: Valley occupancy rate during the first two weekends of February.
1.3 percent: Increase in February sales tax collections in February.
VAIL — The numbers are in hand and seem to back up seat-of-the-pants impressions that the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships was a big success.
Ceil Folz, the president of the Vail Valley Foundation, the organizing committee for the Championships, gave a presentation to the Vail Town Council at its meeting Tuesday. That report had bundles of good news.
According to the Vail Valley Foundation’s research, this year’s Championships set new records for TV viewers. Setting that record in the U.S. was easy, with more than 25 hours of coverage — the 1999 Championships in Vail had about one-third as much TV time. But, Folz said, the events set new ratings highs even in Austria, which hosted the 2013 Championships.
On the Internet, the Championships seemed to be a social media hit, too. Folz said the #Vail2015 hashtag on Twitter was a top 10 topic on that platform during the events.
Real Gold For Valley
That media attention translated to the real gold for the valley — heads in beds.
Lodging occupancy rates were 95 percent for the two weekends of the Championships, Folz said, and research showed that the average lodging stay was 6.2 nights. Estimated attendance for all events exceeded 220,000, although that figure reflects people who attended multiple events. For instance, someone who on one day attended the races, the Apres Avon afternoon events and the evening medals ceremonies in Vail was counted three times.
Most people who came to the events were from Colorado and the rest of the U.S., but the top countries for international visitors were, in order, Canada, Mexico, Austria, England and France.
A lot of people who came also brought their kids. Folz said it was somewhat surprising to learn that 20 percent of attendees brought children. That also reflects the somewhat younger fans who came. According to the report, the average age of an attendee was 40.7. That was another surprise, Folz said, since ski racing fans tend to be in their 50s.
Overall, two-thirds of adult attendees were between 25 and 54 years old — the demographic most coveted by advertisers.
Those people also seemed to enjoy themselves. The report calculated the net promoter score for visitors. That’s a number that attempts to quantify a consumer’s experience. Scores of 75 or more are considered top-flight. The score for the Championships was 87.
The good news was reflected in February sales tax collections for the town, which were up 1.3 percent from the same month in 2014.
“Our past experience is that the Championships tend to suppress business,” Mayor Andy Daly said. “These results were pretty satisfying, particularly with respect to (Championships in) 1989 and 1999.”
Location, Location, Location
But the news wasn’t universally good. Larry Cavanaugh, of Centennial Bank in Vail and the Vail Chamber & Business Association, said business during the Championships largely depended on location.
“If you were in Lionshead, it was a different thing,” Cavanaugh said. “Lionshead merchants have told us their year-over-year (revenues) in February were down, some considerably.”
Cavanaugh, along with business owner Bob Boselli, asked the council, along with the town’s commission on special events, to help guide guests to Lionshead during big events.
Overall, though, the event’s success prompted the final slide in Folz’s presentation — “Let’s do it again.”
Slalom star Mikaela Shiffrin, who attended the meeting with Folz, agreed, adding, “I hope it’s soon so I’m still skiing.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.