Vail concerts play role in winning strategy | VailDaily.com

Vail concerts play role in winning strategy

NWS Snowdaze Set Up DT 12-9-11

VAIL, Colorado – Will Vail ever schedule a “nothing festival,” the way they do in Telluride? The best guess would be “probably not” – the town is getting a great benefit from events of all kinds.

On the small end of the scale, an exhibit opening at the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum recently brought a boost to the Antlers Lodge in Lionshead. On a broader scale, this week’s Snow Daze concerts have helped push the town nearly to capacity.

The free concerts have been a success by any imaginable measure, and have helped fill softer spots in Vail’s business calendar, as well as boost interest during busier times, too.

This weekend, general manager Jason Yeash is expecting something approaching a full house at the Holiday Inn Apex Lodge in West Vail, and a lot of that business is coming from Snow Daze – including several rooms booked by the performers and their crews.

Snow Daze and other events have had a “positive impact” at the Holiday Inn. This weekend, Yeash is expecting younger guests, but he expects more families to stay during Vail Holidaze, the week before Christmas.

“They’ve got those different niches covered,” Yeash said.

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Covering those niches is part of a strategy, now several years in the making, that seems to have taken hold fairly recently. And it’s a strategy embraced even by former skeptics.

“Historically, I haven’t put as much stock in events as some other people,” Antlers general manager Rob LeVine said. “But we’re at a point where I think there’s a critical mass now. There’s always something going on.”

In Lionshead, Sara Franke of Group970, the company that owns the Vail Chophouse and Blue Moose Pizza – as well as several restaurants in Beaver Creek – said the Vail restaurants are expecting to do a brisk business over Snow Daze.

“If what the summer events did for us have the same impact in the winter, that’s going to be great,” Franke said, adding that, in general, events have been a “huge asset” for businesses.

“That’s especially true on weekends like this – we’re still driving people to Vail,” Franke said.

That’s where the strategy comes in. Holidaze hits just before the valley’s traditional rush of business between Christmas and New Year’s Day. And, Franke said, her company’s research shows that families with kids in school will be able to take advantage of those events if they decide to come a few days before Christmas.

While lodges and restaurants are the obvious beneficiaries of events in town, Buzz Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Boards, said he sees the benefit, too.

“The more people it brings to town the better,” Schleper said just before heading out for a few afternoon runs. “We don’t want a ghost town this time of year.”

While Schleper acknowledged that a lot of people are coming for the shows, he said a lot of people will head up the hill as well.

That’s Vail Resorts’ strategy, of course, which is why the company puts so much effort into the events, along with the town of Vail.

And a shift in strategy, from paid tickets to free shows, seems to have helped.

LeVine said free shows are a nice bonus, for both locals and visitors who are already spending money at Vail.

“I’m more of a fan (of events) than I used to be,” LeVine said. “It’s another piece in the puzzle.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.