Vail Daily’s view: Boosting lodging tax could pay off
VAIL, Colorado –Every dollar counts in Vail’s new bargain econ-omy. And certainly it seems everyone is looking for a deal, which, to Vail’s stores, restaurants and lodges, has meant a lot of deep discounts.
Whether that’s entirely wise where the bottom line isn’t price but value, well, that’s a question for another day.
What Vail knows – probably best of all the resorts and ski towns – is that marketing matters. It matters a lot.
The lesson of No. 3 in the annual Ski magazine poll of Vail’s target customers is not that such things are silly. Vail should take it seriously. Like it or not, this is a credible survey of skiers likely to choose Vail over all other North American ski resorts if Vail does its jobs well.
Rank is less important than progress, and Vail has some work to do to regain its proper place.
So, is adding a whopping $11 to the average win-ter lodging price worth nearly $4 million more in marketing muscle? (In summer, the average lodg-ing bill would increase $4.) An ad hoc advisory group of town elders includ-ing such sages as Harry Frampton, Johannes Faessler and Beth Slifer, among others, has floated a proposal to raise Vail’s lodging tax from 1.4 per-cent to 4.5 percent to boost funding for marketing and special events.
Added to Vail’s current total sales tax of 9.8 per-cent, that would put Vail behind only Denver and Pagosa Springs among municipalities in Colorado and the highest of the ski towns. It would be ahead of Beaver Creek, whose equivalent assessments total a tick under 11 percent now.
So there are certainly a couple of ways to look at this idea. In any case, the voters would have to approve any official proposal, according to Col-orado’s constitution.
But we like the idea. The value of more dollars invested wisely in marketing and events that bring more people to Vail is powerful. It would outweigh the $4 to $11 addition to the nightly lodging bill, we believe.
The lodge operators and town leaders would need to look at all the ins and outs of putting forward any tax increase in these times, though. For instance, what might make little difference to an individual might make all the difference to a large group con-sidering a conference in Vail. The lodging commu-nity must be aboard first, though, for it to work.
As the Vail Citizens for Action – who include the idea in a larger white paper on getting through the Great Recession – put it, the bigger risk is to be timid about actions aimed at helping Vail better weather these times.
Marketing and events work. That’s fact. Here’s a way to build on a known strength. It’s certainly worth taking a deeper look.
–Vail Daily Editorial Board