Marketing makes a difference for Vail Valley businesses |

Marketing makes a difference for Vail Valley businesses

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado

Steve Hawkins and his team at the Mountain Haus in Vail made the decision before the snow flew last fall ” the marketing budget stays.

That’s helped the Mountain Haus have a better-than-expected ski season so far. The Mountain Haus, along with other lodges in the Vail Valley, is in a bit of a lull between March spring breakers and the Easter crowds.

“This is traditionally one of the weaker weekends,” said Hawkins, general manager at the Vail lodge. “The last storm was a very welcome relief.”

Recent snow has helped put people in rooms and on the slopes, of course, but through a difficult season, the Mountain Haus has kept its name and image as visible as possible, from print and magazine ads to the lodge’s complimentary electric car that zips guests around Vail.

“We get more than a dozen people a day who comment on the car,” Hawkins said.

At the Masters Gallery on Meadow Drive, owner Rayla Kundolf said she’s had to be careful with everything from staffing to marketing. The idea, she said, is to listen to customers, and to track the ways people come to the store as closely as possible.

“You really need to use your listening skills to learn as much as you can,” Kundolf said.

But while she’s adjusting how and where her advertising dollars go, Kundolf said business at her place hasn’t been as bad as she might have feared in, say, December. Business this season is about where it was in 2005 or 2006, she said.

“You have to be smart and prudent,” Kundolf said. That can even include what sizes of art to put into the gallery. People who might have bought bigger pieces in the past may be more willing to buy something a little smaller this year, she said.

In Avon, Andrew Couperthwait, manager of the Christy Sports outlet, said he’s seen the effects of the marketing campaign that Vail, business owners and Vail Resorts rolled out at the beginning of the season.

Business at Christy Sports has ebbed and surged with the season’s snowstorms, Couperthwait said ” and last weekend provided a nice bump ” but sales and rentals at the company’s Vail Valley stores has been stronger than at other locations.

“With us having stores in a lot of areas, we’ve noticed more consistent business in the Vail Valley,” Couperthwait said. “I think with the Epic Pass and lodging deals, we’ve really reaped the benefits of that marketing.”

The result, Couperthwait said, is that the Vail Valley stores are “holding their own” this season. Meanwhile, the rest of the Christy Sports chain has felt more of the effects of the economic slump.

“Being down even 10 percent has been difficult to manage,” Hawkins said. “But if you’d have told me at the start of the season we’d finish the season down 10 percent or less, I’d take it.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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