Spending from events adding up
September 3, 2012
EAGLE COUNTY – The valley’s event calendar seems to accumulate more events every year, and for a relatively simple reason: bringing new money to the valley.The Vail Valley Partnership – the valley’s convention and visitors’ bureau – recently released a report stating that its sales and marketing efforts had brought $69 million in guest spending to the valley just this year. That work includes selling the valley to corporate and other groups, but most of that spending seems to have come from athletic events including Tough Mudder recent cycling events such as the GranFondo Vail and Tour of Vail.Other events also bring millions in outside spending to the valley. A report from BBC Research & Consulting, a Denver-based market research company, indicates that the Bravo Music Festival brought more than $16 million into the valley’s economy in 2011.For Bravo, BBC broke down the spending into four categories: food and beverage, lodging and hotels, shopping, and activities.In lodging alone, spending totaled more than $2.4 million. Adding up audience members, performers and others working for the festival, Bravo accounted for more than 42,000 room nights last year alone.The potential draw of people is why Eagle voters last year approved a $2 per night lodging tax, with the money going into town marketing. Town mayor Yuri Kostick said the roughly $100,000 per year raised by the new tax will be dedicated to “multi-day regional events as opposed to general promotions.”Beth Slifer, chairwoman of the Vail Local Marketing District, has lived through the days when that town did general marketing. She said being able to promote specific events and activities “puts a lot more meat on the bone” when it comes to marketing.”Now it’s a lot more strategic,” Slifer said. But events for their own sake isn’t always a great idea. Avon Town Council member Amy Phillips said events need to do more than just draw people from out of town.”You want to do events that people who live here will enjoy,” Phillips said. An example of that is the SnowBall Music Festival, which was held in Nottingham Park in March 2011 and this year. The first festival was a financial success, at least as far as bringing in revenue was concerned. Avon’s sales tax collections for March of last year set a new record. Both festivals drew nearly 10,000 people per day to the park, so both were popular.But SnowBall won’t return to Avon next year. Many people who live around the park weren’t happy with the festival, and other residents complained about the drug use and arrests that accompanied the event. Some lodging managers in town said they wouldn’t book rooms to people attending future festivals.”In that case, the economic benefit was outweighed by the impact on residents,” Phillips said. “The economic benefit needs to be tempered by community enrichment… otherwise, it’s somewhat tainted.”Despite that caution, it’s impossible to ignore a weekend event like Tough Mudder, that draws thousands to the valley, or a music festival that accounts for tens of thousands of room nights. That’s why Slifer and Phillips said it’s likely the next step on the events scene will be those that draw people from outside this country. And there’s almost certainly room on the calendar for more events.”I think you’ll see more in 2013,” Slifer said. “And in 2014, we’ll have new activities on Vail Mountain. They’ll be wonderful new additions to what we already have.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.