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Making a Prima impression

Connie Steiert

The Vail International Dance Festival and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival are already big draws to the Vail Valley. But with a sluggish national economy and somewhat reluctant tourists these days, the tourism market is increasingly competitive.To actually increase tourism when other tourist destinations are being squeezed may take a mega effort, and that requires a mega marketing campaign complete with calculated guerilla tactics. Enter Prima.Prima is a new umbrella marketing program designed to wow the prime tourism markets and draw what available tourist dollars there are to the Vail Valley.Beginning this week, Prima will jointly market the valley’s three major summer festivals Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Vail International Dance Festival and the Beaver Creek Theater Festival as well as other cultural events throughout the season, such as the Hot Summer Nights free concert series and the Labor Day Jazz Festival.&quotWe wanted to use (Prima) to help Vail in the summer,&quot explains Prima marketing and public relations manager Katie Campbell. &quotWe are really hoping to have a big impact with Prima and the summer tourism.&quotFirst conceived as a brand name for the Local Marketing District Board to use to market Summer Vail, it became a far more inclusive and aggressive campaign, tying together all the valley’s cultural entertainment and taking the blitz to a worldwide audience.&quotEach piece of it the music, the dance, the theater is incredible on its own,&quot says Chris Jarnot, vice president of marketing for Vail and Beaver Creek. &quotBut they haven’t been able to gain the recognition they deserve independently. Prima is a way to draw theattention to all of them, together.&quotPrima (meaning the best) will kick off with a huge splash this week, as it is unveiled in New York City, Dallas and Denver.And what could be splashier than a 70-foot-tall billboard in New York City’s Time Square, proclaiming &quotVail, Colorado. Prima. The World’s Best Music, Dance and Theater&quot? From May 19 until July 19 the billboard will promote a hopefully irresistible image of Vail’s clear blue skies reigning over the peaks of the majestic Gore Range the stunning backdrop of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.Prima is the joint effort of the valley’s marketing entities for the three festivals: The Vail Valley Foundation, the Vail Local Marketing District Board and Vail/Beaver Creek marketing. First conceived a year and a half ago, the three entities were looking for ways they might pool their efforts to stretch both their dollars and their audience markets, capitalizing on star lineups like the much-anticipated New York Philharmonic’s residency in Vail this summer.While tourism may be sketchy these days, cultural tourism, says Campbell, is on the rise. &quotThe arts community in this town is really making an effort to help draw tourism. All these entities working together is kind of a first.&quot She adds, &quotBringing in world class performers really said a lot about Vail and what we have to offer.&quotAnd Prima is letting more people than ever before know all the best Vail does have to offer.The mammoth New York City billboard alone is expected to be seen by 1.5 million people every day. In addition, the guerilla marketing campaign includes the liberal pasting of posters on scaffolding and the sides of buildings in mid-town, the upper west and the upper east sides of New York City. Prima is also placing two billboards in Dallas, projected to catch the eyes of some additional 200,000 people per day.Why New York City and Dallas? These two metropolises are typically chock full of residents who love to travel.&quotDallas is a real easy market for us,&quot explains Campbell. &quotVail has a lot of draw from Dallas in general, and with the Fly Vail Summer program between Dallas and Vail, it’s an added bonus for us.&quotEven before the billboard blitz began the Prima program showed signs of hitting the mark.&quotI’ve seen it start to help already,&quot declares Jarnot.He has seen increased interest and even incredulity in New York and Dallas when people learn what Vail has to offer culturally in the summer.Jarnot first noticed interest peak earlier this spring in New York, while attending a media event where the New York Philharmonic’s summer residency in Vail was announced. But the marketing reps also took the opportunity to mention the great dance, music and theater festivals the Vail Valley puts on, with celebrated acts such as Dance CUBA!, the Atlanta Ballet and Steppenwolf coming.&quotThey started to go ‘holy cow,’&quot says Jarnot. He saw similar reactions in Dallas, and hopes those reactions will translate into stories being written about Vail’s festivals. It’s already started, with a story in the New York Times last week about the New York Philharmonic coming. But Prima hopes this is just the beginning of the media attention around the country.In addition to the billboard campaign, estimated to cost $35,000, Prima is circulating 60,000 brochures touting the virtues of Vail Valley summers in Denver, New York City and Dallas. Also, 10 bus shelters in Denver will sport a tempting ad of summers in Vail around the Cherry Creek and Park Meadows Malls.Throughout the summer, Prima will release a string of press releases across the country detailing the events and attractions available if visitors make their destination Vail or Beaver Creek. A Web site will soon be up and running, too, enabling visitors to book their travel plans and snag great packages for summer visits to Vail and Beaver Creek. The Vail/Beaver Creek Reservations and the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau have put together lodging and travel packages specifically designed for Prima, with great deals.&quotWe are targeting the middle income, cultural traveler,&quot Campbell says. &quotWe’re trying to make it affordable, but so everyone benefits from it.For more information, check out Prima’s Web site at http://www.primavail.com


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