Vail Daily letter: Group sales important
Vail, CO Colorado
I’ve had the pleasure of wearing sev-eral hats in Vail over the past years. I’ve been a hotel marketer for 20 years and now enjoy working as a Vail retailer. I also am pleased to serve as a member of the Vail Local Marketing Advisory Council, a nine-member volunteer board responsible for making recommendations to the Vail Town Council, which serves as the Vail Local Market-ing District board, for summer and shoulder-season marketing programs funded by a 1.4 percent Vail lodging tax.
While in the hotel business, I oversaw marketing as well as group sales, giving me an appreciation for what an impact group business has not only on a prop-erty but on the community as a whole. I also learned the importance of reaching out to customers through marketing and public relations, establishing a brand and remaining adaptable and strategic in a time of uncertainty.
The Vail Local Marketing District is staying vigilant and savvy in driving business to Vail to further improve our local economy. One of our part-ners, the Vail Valley Partnership, remains a constant, steady engine for driving group business such as asso-ciation, participatory sporting events, weddings, government groups, cor-porate meetings and other traditional and nontraditional group business to hotels and the community. We work closely with the entire Vail lodging community to increase group business with a focus on the non-ski months.
There is a focus on group sales for Vail through a dedicated sales force in key markets such as Texas, Illinois, New York and Florida; representing Vail at meeting- industry events at more than 30 trade shows and events throughout the year; and hosting in-market customer events and famil-iarization tours, allowing meeting planners to experience all Vail has to offer.
Through the VLMDAC and VLMD, a new focus for group sales has devel-oped: participatory sports events. Sporting events have huge potential opportunities to drive significant room nights and a “family oriented” crowd to Vail during need times in the spring, summer and fall months. Diversifying our group business has kept us ahead of the curve and allowed us to contin-ue to be successful in a trying econom-ic time. We currently have more than 4,000 potential room nights bid for 2010, and there is a high level of inter-est in Vail as a destination from partic-ipatory sports event planners. This focus on participatory sports has given the VLMDAC yet another avenue to work closely with the Commission on Special Events and the Vail Recreation District.
By expanding our group-business focus to participatory sports, we address Vail’s commitment to becom-ing a hub for recreational sports and wellness. By bringing in large groups of people interested in pursuing active vacations, we are taking advantage of the infrastructure and assets that Vail possesses. These large groups and events are a path for Vail to put more heads in beds and generate more sales (and the subsequent sales tax revenue) that fund a large portion of the servic-es that Vail’s residents and visitors need and enjoy.
Furthermore, we have an increased number of wedding and social-meet-ings leads. While traditional corporate, association and incentive business is harder to come by, it still contributes to more than half of all of the group busi-ness in Vail, and we’re holding strong in this sector. We remain successful with $1.4 million in new business gen-erated, $200,000 in repeat bookings and 75 percent non-ski-season group arrival in 2009, demonstrating our commitment to drive business in spring, summer and fall.
As always, we welcome participa-tion from residents and organizations interested in helping to shape the future for Vail.
On behalf of the Vail Local Market-ing District Advisory Council,
– Laurie Mullen Owner, West Vail Liquor Mart