Group meetings vital to Vail Valley
Meetings, events and performance incentive travel in the United States are responsible for almost 15 percent of all domestic travel, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Meetings and events spending in 2007 in Colorado alone made up more than $1.805 million in economic impact to our state. Recent media coverage has created broad negative perceptions about the groups and meetings industry and is compelling companies to reduce or cancel events as a result.
The U.S. Travel Association cites an upcoming survey of meeting planners that 26 percent of meeting planners have cut back because of the groundswell of negative perception, and USA Today recently reported that the meeting and event industry is down by about 35 percent.
The overheated rhetoric from a small handful of elected officials in Washington is affecting local economies across the nation, including ours.
The Vail Valley Partnership, as the group-sales representative for the Vail Valley, is taking aggressive action to attract groups and meetings to visit our area. Our group-sales team represents the community at a number of trade shows and client events throughout the country.
We host many meeting planners on familiarization tours of our resorts. We work with national sales representatives in key markets to ensure that the event and meeting industry and meeting planners are aware of the Vail Valley as a meeting location.
We are seeing positive traction and year-over-year success from our actions. Group leads distributed to the lodging community increased in 2008 over 2007, and group leads distributed to date in 2009 are increasing over 2008. Groups booked so far in 2009 also have increased over prior years.
Our pipeline of future group business (for 2010 and beyond) is also out-producing prior years’ efforts. The Partnership has an increased focus on bringing participatory, community-based events to the valley in an effort to benefit the entire lodging and business community. Examples include the IronKids Triathlon (in partnership with the town of Avon), an Irish hurling tournament and festival (in partnership with the Vail Recreation District), a USA Judo national event and many other potential events.
This is in addition to our continued focus on corporate retreats, association meetings and incentive programs.
While the Partnership is seeing continued success, it makes up only a small part of the total group business to the Vail Valley. Our entire community depends upon the sales tax generated by meetings and events, and our entire community benefits from the meetings and events held throughout the valley. We encourage all business owners and citizens to call and write our elected officials and let them know that meetings mean business.
Director of sales and marketing, Vail Valley Partnership