Vail Resorts seeks tourism office oversight |

Vail Resorts seeks tourism office oversight

Joanne Kelley
Rocky Mountain News
Broomfield, CO Colorado
NWS Epic Pass 02 KA 03-18-08

BROOMFIELD, Colorado ” Vail Resorts Inc. wants to hold the state’s tourism office more accountable for the marketing money it spends by setting up an industry panel that would advise and oversee the government agency.

The state budgets almost $20 million a year for tourism marketing.

In a five-page proposal obtained by the Rocky Mountain News, the Broomfield-based company told the Colorado Tourism Office it should be held to “the same strict return on investment requirements that corporate marketing groups are held to.”

The concept calls for a five-member panel that would meet weekly for two hours and be chaired by a Vail official who would represent the mountain tourism sector. It also suggested including a representative from Frontier Airlines, hotel company Sage Hospitality, the Broadmoor Hotel and a rotating tourism office director who wouldn’t overlap with the specialties or geographies of the permanent members.

Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz presented his idea to the tourism office board at its meeting this month.

“It’s under consideration . . . they are still taking a look at it,” said Matt Cheroutes, spokesman for the Colorado Office of Economic Development, which has jurisdiction over the tourism office.

State budget pressures and the possibility that tourism funds will be cut make it “more important” to ensure the state’s tourism spending “is effective,” Katz said in an interview Monday. “We believe there is more that they could do,” he said of the tourism office.

Vail’s proposal for an executive oversight committee questions whether the state’s tourism office has “fully adapted” to changing times.

“Print media is quickly taking a backseat role to direct customer engagement, Web site display advertising, paid search advertising, search engine optimization and online booking,” according to the document.

Some Colorado Ski Country USA members have reacted warily to the proposal because Vail pulled its four Colorado ski areas out of the industry trade group last year. The main reason Vail gave for withdrawing its substantial funding from the group: It wants the tourism office to be the primary marketing vehicle for its industry.

Steamboat executive Rob Perlman, who represents the industry on the tourism office board, has asked the trade group members to comment on the proposal.

Under the plan, the tourism office board would retain the authority to set its own strategic direction, including “the broad allocation of expenditures.” But the executive committee would provide “specific expertise, resources and oversight to the CTO staff’s implementation of the board’s decisions.”

Vail Resorts said the main goal would be to have the committee “supplant some of the work and expense of having a comprehensive agency relationship” with the firm that currently handles media and advertising efforts for the state.

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