Vail Daily letter: Building on the brand
Vail, CO Colorado
As the town of Vail and the Vail Local Marketing District plan the marketing strategy for the 2010 sum-mer season, I’d like to weigh in as a member of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council First, I’d like to applaud the vision and leadership of the Vail Town Council and my volunteer colleagues who comprise the the Vail Local Mar-keting District Advisory Council, the legally constituted organization charged with deploying the 1.4 per-cent lodging tax from hotel and con-do bookings which funds our efforts to attract more visitors outside the winter season.
VLMDAC hasn’t forgotten that the highest return possible from market-ing efforts is still the destination visi-tor, who books lodging, dines, shops, hikes, bikes and recreates, returning time and again. Our guests, while enjoying Vail, generate revenue in addition to sales tax, which partially funds the services that residents and visitors require and enjoy.
This year, given the economic situ-ation, we adjusted our strategy some-what and focused our efforts not only on destination visitors but on the Front Range of Colorado. While still “down,” in the words of Ralf Garrison from MTRiP, which charts our busi-ness measures against our competi-tive set of mountain resorts, ” Vail is less bad than others.”
Although we are hopeful that we have reached bottom, most prognos-ticators predict a slow recovery to a new “normal.”
Vail has suffered less than other mountain resorts with a 15 percent decline in year-to-date sales tax rev-enues. This was in part because the town, Vail Resorts and the business community came together to focus marketing on the value-driven Vail All the Love campaign to attract more Front Range traffic, which helped soft-en the blow. But the effort to gain mar-ket share, retain loyal customers, cre-ate long-term value and build brand equity is a never-ending challenge. With a background in marketing luxu-ry and mainstream consumer prod-ucts through my career, I think that in addition to this message of value, we should focus on the importance of building brand equity. In the case of Vail, it is indeed “Like Nothing on Earth.” As a community, from an expe-rience and service level, our brand building is dependent on delivering on that promise.
The key reason for building equity and creating an emotional tie to the brand is that customers believe that there is added value in the brand and are committed to both coming and, in the long term, paying a higher price (over time) for a Vail experience as opposed to another destination.
There are many examples of this across all types of brands and product categories. This doesn’t mean we should focus on ” just advertising” that creates an image of Vail as ” Like Nothing on Earth.” It is also quite pos-sible and quite important to build brand equity through promotions such as Vail All the Love that are con-sistent with the brand’s positioning ” Vail – Like Nothing on Earth” and creates that emotional tie with our customers.
For the destination visitor, the VLMDAC concurs with Vail Resorts that we need to demonstrate that Vail is, indeed, ” Like Nothing on Earth.” Our intent is to extend the brand equity of America’s premier ski resort into America’s No. 1 year- round mountain resort.
Our pillars of key messages this year include: our magnificent cultur-al offerings that include the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Vail Inter-national Dance Festival and Vail Jazz Festival events; our extraordinary adventure- based activities, exempli-fied by the Teva Mountain Games which kick off the summer; and, as defined of late, our recreation and wellness options. This is evidenced by both the elite athletes that call Vail home and a natural infrastructure offering some of the best hiking, bik-ing and fitness options on Earth. It is notable that the VLMD is working to help shape this quest for Vail to be the nation’s No. 1 resort for outdoor recreation and wellness.
We’ve seen how mutually success-ful partnerships such as the Teva Mountain Games can work to strengthen otherwise slow periods of our summer season. These points aren’t lost on potential partners in sports and wellness with whom the VLMDAC is actively exploring options. These partners want to use Vail as a platform to grow their brand objectives – in exchange, we’ll utilize these partnerships as a conduit to put more guest heads in beds.
Our monthly meetings as the VLM DAC are open to the public, and we welcome participation from citizens and organizations who are interested in helping us shape the future. We are looking forward to the time when our partnership discussions become commitments. With our current focus and continuing dedication to building on the brand promise of ” Vail – Like Nothing on Earth,” we’re looking for-ward to stronger summer and fall sea-sons ahead, regardless of the eco-nomic environment. On behalf of the Vail Local Market-ing District,
– Bob Llewellyn