Requests for mailed visitors’ guide plummeted over the past three years
What kind of summer guide do Vail visitors want?
Answering that question has occupied quite a bit of time the last few weeks. For one thing, it involves money from taxpayers, via the Vail Local Marketing Board.
The volunteer board, made up of town business owners, recently decided next year’s guide will be different from this year’s model. The biggest change is advertising: This year’s guide has it, next year’s won’t.
That change was caused by another change: the way the guide is distributed.
In the past, potential customers would call the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, which would then mail out a brochure ” a “fulfillment piece” in tourism-and-booking lingo.
As recently as three years ago, as many as 20,000 brochures per year were mailed out. In the past few years, though, visitors have found most of their information on the Tourism Bureau’s Web site, thinkvail.com.
In fact, requests for brochures have tailed off to fewer than 2,000 so far this year, Marketing Board President Beth Slifer said.
That fact has led to a change in the way the brochure is viewed.
At a recent Marketing Board meeting, the group voted to produce next year’s guide without advertising, over the objections of members Steve Rosenthal and Ken Friedman.
With requests for mailed copies dropping, the Marketing Board will put next year’s summer guides in lodges. But, Slifer said, the lodges will only take the guides if there are no ads in them, especially ads for competing lodges.
The decision to produce an ad-free guide didn’t sit well with Rosenthal, who also is the current president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association.
“What we’re forgetting is that why we changed to ads in the guide in the first place is that customers, not hotels, wanted to know more about lodging and restaurants,” Rosenthal said.
As a compromise, the Vail-centric Business Association will produce its own brochure with advertising, then send it out with copies of the Vail brochure that are mailed.
While current demand for mail is lagging, one marketing specialist at the meeting said that trend may not last. More Internet customers are now putting in requests for brochures, said Keith Burrows, a consultant with Wright and Company.
“I think the trend will move back and forth the next few years,” Burrows said.