Vail Daily column: Say ‘I do’ to more business |

Vail Daily column: Say ‘I do’ to more business

Chris RomerVail Valley PartnershipVail, CO Colorado

What can be done to help increase your business during the non-ski months?Consider targeting the destination wedding business.After all, the average wedding cost nationally is $26,501, slightly more than a 5 percent decrease from 2009 when the average cost was $28,082 but up $8,000 since 2002. And that’s just the wedding itself, not taking into consideration the ancillary spending of guests, lodging or other additional spending. And we’re certainly not average here in the Vail Valley, where the average 2010 and 2011 destination weddings have budgets of $70,000 to $90,000, which does not include lodging or other non-ceremony related spending.Needless to say, weddings are big business.A survey by Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine projects that the market for destination weddings will grow to $16 billion, extending a winning streak that has seen the destination wedding market grow from just $3 billion in 2001. Obviously, the wedding business has seen continued growth during recessionary times. Better yet, 15 percent of weddings are destination weddings; these families tend to stay an average of six days/nights on location and their guests are staying three days/nights.Consider that the Vail Chapel hosted 43 weddings and the Beaver Creek Chapel hosted 73 weddings in 2011. Add to that, weddings held at the wedding decks on Vail and Beaver Creek mountains, weddings held at various other outdoor locations throughout the valley and private ceremonies. Hundreds of weddings happen in our valley each year, presenting an opportunity for incremental revenue to the business community. In fact, over 600 wedding licenses are issued in Eagle County each year.Kudos to the town of Vail, Vail Recreation District and the voters in Vail for moving forward with a new golf clubhouse to include a wedding venue suitable to the Vail brand, with the signature background of the Gore Range. This market has plenty of room for continued growth, based on the success of the town’s Donovan Pavilion and other wedding venues throughout the valley.Trends in the wedding business show that brides (and the occasional groom) are spending more money and planning more destination weddings – great news for the Vail Valley, our lodging properties and our sales tax collections. And weddings present a great opportunity for restaurants and retailers to be active in promoting their business to this high-spending segment of guests.Sounds great – but how in the world does an individual business find these guests?There are numerous local publications and local websites targeting the destination wedding. The Vail Daily produces an annual wedding guide, as does Markit Creative on behalf of the Vail Valley Partnership. In addition, local publications such as WhatToDo and the Parents Handbook are great resources to reach guests to promote your business. Partnership members can also think outside the box a bit and use your free marketing benefit with, to target wedding guests with special offers via their smartphones.The Partnership also promotes our member businesses via our website and our members can opt in to receive destination guest leads each month – including leads generated via our site and our site. This is a free member benefit – you will receive leads direct in your inbox, from guests who want to hear from you. There are numerous other ways to reach this lucrative audience without spending a ton of resources. Strategic partnerships with lodging properties and local wedding planners and other vendors can easily pay off in big ways for businesses willing to get creative to attract more of this big business.As always, I encourage all member businesses to get engaged with the Partnership and to contact us with any suggestions you may have to help us better serve you and for non-members to join the Partnership. Call us at 970-476-1000 or stop by our offices in Avon at Traer Creek Plaza to share your feedback. Chris Romer is executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership