Vail Daily’s View: Lot of fuss over 140 people
Vail, CO, Colorado
The Vista Bahn will hang silent this summer, a victim of the times.
Vail Village merchants are disappointed, of course. There’s one less reason to walk Bridge Street.
But the numbers simply don’t work.
Last summer, a mere 140 people a day used the chairlift. And most of those were mountain bikers, hardly likely to fill a shopping bag although no doubt there were a few meals and drinks in the offing for village restaurants.
Vail Resorts can’t be blamed for making a pretty simple and solid business decision. For 140 people a day, running the lift for three days a week for two months would cost $54,000. You almost have to wonder why they continued last summer using those wind credits for so little return on the investment.
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Pretty much everyone running a business these days gets that math.
Still, Vail Councilwoman Margaret Rogers this week declared she was appalled. “If we’re spending all this money to get people here to Vail, getting people up and biking on the mountain is part of the experience,” she said.
True enough. But plainly, the bulk of the bikers and other visitors are taking the gondola up the mountain. For only 140 people a day, it seems a little much to get worked up over.
Besides, surely there are better ways to help attract more people than the puny 140 a day who would ride the chairlift out of the village.
That’s the real issue here.
How can you invest, say, $50,000 into marketing the village and get a real return?
So, ultimately, the council focused on more productive alternatives than passing a hat to try to keep the chairlift running.
Vail’s Commission on Special Events and Local Marketing District Advisory Council — along with village merchants themselves — should be able to figure out how to produce more guests than the chairlift. Given the low bar here, it shouldn’t be particularly difficult for them.
The huff over the Vista Bahn staying idle seems a bit, well, outsized for the real-world impact.
We have to wonder how much of this is another example of the relationship between town and ski company still having a ways to go before it is mended.
In this case, Vail Resorts made a perfectly sensible business decision. The town and merchants surely can find better ways to attract far more than 140 extra visitors to the village.
So what’s behind all the tempest?
Vail Daily Editorial Board