Vail Resorts seeing more applicants this year |

Vail Resorts seeing more applicants this year

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Pheobe Heaydon 2 DT 1-21-10

VAIL, Colorado – Vail Resorts, the valley’s largest winter employer, is hiring a smaller percentage of international workers than it hired last season.

Four percent of the company’s 16,000 total workers were from other countries last year, including employees at Vail Resorts’ lodging brands RockResorts and the Grand Teton Lodge Co.

This year, the company has about 17,000 employees because of new RockResorts properties, said Vail Resorts spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga. There will be 420 international workers out of the company’s 17,000 total number of winter employees this season – accounting for 2.5 percent of the company’s total winter employees.

In total, the company is hiring about 220 fewer international workers than it hired last season.

Bob Chapman, Vail Resorts director of organizational development and head of recruiting, said there are many factors this year that are influencing the company’s hiring practices.

Chapman said the company is asking a different question these days about what the right talent is that can provide guests with the “experience of a lifetime.”

“We continue to recruit both domestically and internationally,” Chapman said. “Our international employees are some of the most experienced and passionate in the world. They bring a sense of pride and service that’s unique to Vail Resorts.”

He said the company would use the seasonal worker visa program in line with the program’s purpose, which the U.S. Department of Labor states as a program intended only to hire workers for jobs that cannot be filled by American workers.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification determines the availability of American workers and whether hiring temporary foreign workers will have a negative effect on U.S. workers’ wages and working conditions, according to Department of Labor information about H-2B Visas at

If that’s not enough red tape, the Department of Homeland Security is also required to consult with the Department of Labor before determining whether any worker can be admitted to work in the United States.

There are 66,000 H-2B Visas available in the United States every year, with 33,000 each for the winter and summer seasons.

Vail Resorts uses H-2B Visas, as well as H1, O, E3 and J1 Visas – all of which allow international workers to work in the United States in some form or another.

Chapman said the company will be using those visas at a lesser rate this year.

Changing recruiting tactics

Vail Resorts has received more job applications this year than last year, but Chapman doesn’t attribute the spike solely to the economic downturn.

“Much is due to our aggressive search campaigns across the country,” Chapman said.

The company’s college program is bringing in 400 student employees this winter – last year there were 100 student employees.

The company has also made some changes to its employment website, Chapman said the changes to the site have resulted in a 17 percent increase in traffic to the site in the first month.

Vail Resorts has also created a staffing team to focus on screening for seasonal positions.

“All of this is what differentiates the employment and guest experience at Vail Resorts,” Chapman said.

The town of Vail is also hiring fewer international seasonal workers this year, said John Power, the town’s human resources director.

“I think that’s a reflection of the economy,” Power said. “As the economic slowdown improves, I think that will change.”

Power said the town of Vail has been more successful with local, seasonal recruiting efforts. The town is hiring 60 to 70 seasonal workers this year, 15 of whom are international, Power said.

The international workers add value for certain Vail Resorts jobs – jobs like winch cat operators and other highly skilled positions, Chapman said.

Ski instructors are also popular positions for international workers, Chapman said.

“They are ski instructors with highly specialized skills sets and fluent in languages that appeal to our international guests,” Chapman said. “While it’s true that a very small number of employees come from abroad, these employees have been a part of our company for a long time and are well integrated with both our culture and our guests.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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