Vail Chamber: Titanic implications of our investment in Vail (column) |

Vail Chamber: Titanic implications of our investment in Vail (column)

Ryan Kelsey
Vail Chamber
Ryan Kelsey
Special to the Daily |

President Abraham Lincoln used metaphors to make a logical point in the most broad-based manner.

A successful cruise ship is a self-contained community. A modern cruise ship is nautically stylish and beautiful. A profitable cruise ship offers unique experiences in a value-for-value manner. The owners and stakeholders of a cruise ship understand that the total worth of the enterprise is a function of many diverse parts — the physical ship itself, the services provided, the goodwill developed over time, the brand name, the mystique of extraordinary vistas and the capital investment in both infrastructure and stable skilled staff.

No one travels on a cruise ship to experience the ordinary. The only time a successful, modern and profitable cruise ship is not financially active is when it is in dry-dock for repairs. Otherwise, a cruise ship sails briefly into port to accept new guests, provides valuable experiences and services out at sea or discharges happy passengers in anticipation of the next guest cycle.

All successful, modern and profitable cruise ships are integrated vacation resorts in competition with all other resorts. When you look at a cruise ship, you see sleek lines and numerous decks. You do not separate the upper decks, which house paying guests, from the lower decks, which accommodate the skilled staff. Why? Because a successful cruise ship is viewed as an integrated whole.

Vail as a profitable community and unique vacation resort must contain all the parts of a cruise ship, otherwise we slip into a false and short-term sense of judging success. That is simple economics. The monetary value of the Vail community is inexorably tied to the success, modernity and profitability of the total Vail experience, which we tout as a unified marketing message, “Like nothing else on Earth.”

We are all stakeholders in the value of this experience, whether we own million-dollar mountain real estate, businesses and professional services in the village, stock in Vail Resorts Inc., or want occupational experience for our personal resumes.

It is illogical to not expect dividends and financial gain from our investment in Vail, the community. No rational owner of expensive real estate wants the value of his or her property to go down. No rational business owner wants to go bankrupt. No provider of professional services wants clients to disappear to other resorts. No stockholder wants shares to forego dividends. And no sane skilled staff associate wants to lose financial resources working here.

There was a time when Vail was a unique, single-season resort that attracted college students into foregoing a winter semester for service employment and an opportunity to ski in off hours. That is no longer true. To remain profitable and to maintain the value of million-dollar real estate and village businesses, the Vail community must attract educated, skilled and stable service providers for year-round employment. Anything less and we will fail like other resorts. Think of the Catskills, Poconos and Atlantic City sinking out of sight.

Ryan Kelsey is the director of sales and revenue for the Antlers at Vail, co-owner of Healing Hut TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Vail Chamber & Business Association. For more information, call 970-477-0075 or email

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