The iconic identity of the Vail Valley rests on us all
Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
As newly appointed executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership, I find this quote telling. It’s how I hope the Partnership will help contribute to our community. From East Vail to Dotsero, the more we as a business community come together and fuse individual marketing efforts together, while allowing each other to remain true to our core brand promise, the more powerful our destination will become.
Our individual marketing efforts ultimately point to the same goal – to position the Vail Valley as the first-choice mountain destination regardless of season. Assuming a main objective associated with this goal is to increase the number of guests to allow each individual business the opportunity to succeed, we need to keep in mind that to succeed requires a consistent and high-level message across all channels, from all businesses and organizations. We’re in it together, from the smallest lodge to the nationally branded properties to companies providing professional services to locals.
This is easier said than done. As a community, we have a tremendous opportunity to work together on high-level strategic marketing efforts and programs such as the Lodging Quality Assurance and Platinum Service Program. These programs, which are executed and overseen by the Partnership, are a tremendous competitive advantage for the Vail Valley. Our competitors in other resorts wish they had such programs in place to help ensure high levels of guest service and consistent lodging ratings across brands and management companies.
The lodging quality and platinum service programs distinguish our destination from the competition and are assets that guests should know about. Similarly, the various business organizations in the Vail Valley have the opportunity to work together to ensure quality networking programs, educational events and robust benefits to our various members throughout the county and region.
Another example of how we as a community can work together to market the destination is through initiatives like the Eagle County Air Alliance program, currently supported by numerous local businesses. Thanks to the marketing efforts of these community partners, the program has been largely successful. Currently direct flights are available to/from Dallas and Miami in the summer, with the Dallas flight continuing through the fall. The Partnership is involved with actively recruiting a variety of sporting events and participatory tournaments that will potentially use our county’s infrastructure and sports fields (and thus benefit businesses) from Eagle to East Vail.
Marketing is a powerful tool, and even more powerful if you can learn to adapt your strategy to the ever-changing means consumers gather information. Most would agree that word-of-mouth advertising is very important; an old truism states that a happy guest tells one person and an un-happy guest tells 10. This ratio is no longer valid due to peer-review websites such as TripAdvisor and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
A visit to such sites provides powerful comments – both positive and negative – written by our guests. Research shows 58 percent of guests use the web to research travel destinations (travelfocused.com), so a new truism might be that guests will log-on the Internet and tell the entire world and then base their travel decisions on what they may find. Once again proving that the destination’s messaging is a responsibility we all share.
Let’s continue to make a concerted effort to move forward together to drive more business to the Vail Valley.
Chris Romer is the executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership.