Snow, ‘Love’ driving Vail business
VAIL, Colorado ” It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at Buzz’s Boards in Vail, Colorado.
A cold, snowy weekend, the latest in a steady parade of snowmaking weather patterns to hit the valley over the last month put plenty of people in town on Saturday.
“And it feels like Christmas got into town yesterday,” said Buzz’s Boards manager Neil Conroy of Sunday business. “We’re starting to feel a little more normalcy here.”
People seem to be coming for more than just a weekend day, too.
Lodging reservations seem to be picking up, too. The difference, though, is how far in advance people are booking rooms and flights.
“We had more people book in December for December than we did last year,” said Chris Romer, reservations manager for the Vail Valley Partnership. The same thing’s true for people booking flights.
What that means, Romer said, is that people are planning their vacations much closer to the dates they want to travel.
Reservation numbers are still down over last year for the holiday season, but the situation isn’t as dire-looking as it was last month. That seems to be the case with reservations later in the season.
“In late February and early March, there aren’t a lot of bookings,” Romer said. “But the January/February reservations are better than they were.”
The late-arriving guests may also be taking advantage of the “Vail All the Love” program that launched this fall.
That program, quickly hammered out over starting in October, is using $550,000 from the town of Vail and money and marketing power from Vail Resorts. The program targets former pass holders, both on the Front Range and in East Coast destination markets, with a Web site and a card that entitles the bearer to various discounts at lodges, restaurants and shops throughout Vail.
“We’ve had guests asking for the cards,” said Tivoli Lodge reservations manager Kim Newberry.
Besides the Vail All the Love card, airlines have gotten into the act. Smart shoppers can book a round trip between the Eagle County Regional Airport and JFK Airport in New York for less than $225 right now.
“The combination of good deals and good snow has had some impact,” Romer said.
While it’s hard to know just what motivates consumers these days, Romer said one thing is clear: People are shopping around.
“The key message we have is: make a sale,” Romer said. “We need to turn shoppers into buyers, and we do that by emphasizing values.”
At Buzz’s, the skiers coming for the snow or the deals are coming into the Vail Village ski shop. And, Conroy said, the people coming up from the Front Range are doing more than renting.
“We’re getting a lot of tuning business because the conditions are changing so much,” Conroy said.
That could be the story of the season.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or email@example.com.