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Vail events add value for consumers

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Ski Classic FILE KA 3-25-11
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VAIL, Colorado – As Vail Mountain enters the home stretch of the ski season, its events calendar is offering up a lot more to do than just skiing and snowboarding.

That’s been the case most of the ski season, and the town of Vail and Vail Resorts have been partnering to ensure that’s the case throughout the entire year, as well.

They do it because events draw people in and give them more reasons to stay, and in an uncertain economy, that’s all the reason they need.

The practically back-to-back events schedule running through the end of the ski season is no accident, either.

“It’s all by design,” said Kelli McDonald, the town of Vail’s economic development director.

The town of Vail and its Commission on Special Events, which contributes money to just about every special event held in town each year, have seen events grow in attendance over the years.

“Events are something that people are looking for,” McDonald said.

Consumers in general are looking for more, said James Chung, president of consulting and research firm Reach Advisors.

Chung said the question becomes, “What is more?”

“Is it more of a discount, or more of a value?” he said.

While Vail might offer up great slopes to ski on, there are plenty of places with great slopes to ski on, Chung said.

And gone are the days when people would spend more for less, like they did during the boom times about four years ago.

“Consumers have clearly spoken, and they want more for their dollar,” Chung said.

Vail is a resort that never puts itself “on sale,” Adam Sutner, Vail Mountain’s marketing director, has said. While the resort might offer value via various vacation packages, the resort hasn’t adjusted its strategies too much during the recession.

“Vail is remarkable in that it is one of the few brands out there that has been able to maintain or even increase costs,” Chung said. “Other major tourism players have had to dramatically cut costs.”

So while people might not be able to clip any coupons for bargains on Vail skiing or lodging, they are more likely to find an event or two going on in town during their stay. Those events, which are typically free, offer a huge value to consumers.

McDonald said many resorts have single events here and there, but Vail “literally has something going on every single week.”

The events are designed to provide options, too. While this weekend’s American Ski Classic focuses on ski racing and the town’s racing heritage, next weekend’s Vail Film Festival is about culture and the arts.

“These events are appealing for what we think our audience will be interested in,” McDonald said. “It gives people options.”

Following the film festival, Vail locals and visitors can unleash their inner foodies at the Taste of Vail, a three-day event schedule packed with everything from food tastings to educational seminars.

The annual season-ending bash, Spring Back to Vail, is a week longer this year. Vail Resorts extended the event because of the late Easter and subsequently later ski season. The thought behind it was to give people even more reasons to come to Vail during the late season.

Chung said those extra events add value, and value might be that little extra that a consumer is looking for when deciding where to spend their weekends or vacations.

“There are a lot of choices consumers can choose from,” Chung said. “We see a lot of other resorts that have just stuck their heads between their tails – they don’t know what to do. How do you continue to add to the great experience you’re coming for, plus more? Vail has gotten really good at adding the plus more.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.


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