Vail Mountain touts summer success
VAIL, Colorado – Last year’s great snow was very good to Vail. But a lot of work over the past few years has the resort positioned to ride last year’s success for some time.
Adam Sutner, the head of marketing for Vail Mountain, Tuesday gave the Vail Town Council an update about what’s been going on at the resort, and a look at what’s to come over the next several months.
Looking back, Sutner told the council that the summer season may finally be ready to fulfill its longtime promise.
“The story line is that winter used to be far, far, far ahead of summer,” Sutner said. “But summer has risen precipitously in the last two or three years. Summer is starting to look like winter. The challenge is to keep that going.”
What’s working, Sutner said, is a combination of a great mountain and activities, events, brand awareness and guest satisfaction scores that some industries can only dream of.
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Sutner told the council that Vail’s “net promoter scores,” a measure of customer satisfaction, is consistently in the 90s. United Airlines’ scores are usually in the 20s, he said.
Better yet, Sutner said, those scores are consistent.
“There have been fundamental changes in the way Vail does business beyond good powder weekends,” Sutner said. “There’s a fundamental perception that Vail is a good experience, it’s worth trying and it’s worth coming back to.”
Guest service is a huge part of that equation, Sutner said. So are events, from Snow Daze to Vail Holidaze to Spring Back to Vail and more.
And, while Sutner said the words “Vail” and “discount” should never appear within a sentence or two of each other, some of the secret to winter events’ popularity is that they’re free.
“We’ve gone from paying $40 for Kid Rock (tickets) to free for Guster and Jakob Dylan,” Sutner said, adding that those events are sprinkled around town. “Those are ways for consumers to touch events in a different way. It’s one of the reasons (guests) are coming here.”
And those guests are coming increasingly from farther away than the other side of the Continental Divide. Sutner said while Front Rangers are always welcome, Vail Resorts has put a new emphasis on attracting destination guests, especially from Mexico and South America. In fact, he said, a group of Brazilian and Mexican travel writers is in town this week, getting to know the town and resort. The resort company is also putting more effort into marketing to other parts of this country.
“Budweiser advertises Snow Daze in 20 of its biggest markets,” Sutner said. “The reason we’re approaching 90 percent occupancy this weekend is because of Snow Daze.”
Responding to a question from council member Margaret Rogers about luring visitors from Asia, Sutner said the company is working on it. But, he said, that’s a goal for the medium-range future.
“Having been part of teams trying to figure out those markets, it’s easier said than done,” Sutner said. “It takes time to figure out places like China.”
All the things Vail Resorts is already putting money and effort into will be turned up even more as the resort celebrates its 50th anniversary next season.
Beyond that, Sutner said to expect something new at Vail just about all the time, from new chairlifts to new restaurants to new twists on Vail Resorts’ popular EpicMix social media program.
“We are consistently new,” he said. “That’s a great way to keep your market fresh.”