Vail Snow Days delivers big boost in town’s lodging reservations
Vail's four-day festival in December drove 24 percent boost in lodging business
VAIL — The whole idea of town support of events is to bring visitors. By that measure, it looks like Vail Snow Days was a resounding success.
Final numbers are still coming in, but initial data shows that lodging reservations for the third weekend in December increased 24 percent from the previous year.
The increase is more pronounced compared to the December weekends just before and just after Snow Days. Those reservation numbers were both lower than those posted for the same period in 2017.
Peggy Wolfe, of Highline Sports and Entertainment, which put together the program, presented some of those preliminary Snow Days results at the Vail Town Council’s Tuesday afternoon meeting.
Wolfe said it’s easy to make the case that music and other Snow Days attractions drove visitation that weekend. The early-season snow was good on the weekends bracketing Snow Days, Wolfe said.
Part of driving visits was the lure of free concerts of “A-list” entertainers, Shakey Graves and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Wolfe said. Those shows drew roughly 8,000 people per night. A Saturday-only show in 2017 drew about 2,500 people.
“People were excited about the level of the bands,” council member Travis Coggin said. “People were excited to be here … the restaurants and bars were packed.”
Wolfe praised a new setup for concerts at Ford Park. It was the first time a show that size had been held at that venue, she said. Better yet, electric service was sufficient so the venue could be a “generator-free zone,” she said, crediting the Vail Public Works Department for their help.
The shows were also helped by easy access to town buses going into and out of the venue, Wolfe said.
Mayor Dave Chapin said he rode the post-show buses on a couple of trips around town and was impressed by both the service and the mood of the passengers.
Beyond the big shows, the most recent Snow Days had several other performances and events around town, including the Pray for Snow bonfire, pub crawls and an “expo village” from Golden Peak to Lionshead Village.
The plan now is to translate success in December to success in April and beyond.
The town contributed $300,000 to Snow Days, with Vail Resorts providing another $200,000. Those amounts include both cash and services.
With the success in December, council members agreed to spend another $300,000 on Spring Back to Vail events in April. That money had been approved in the 2019 budget but hadn’t yet been allocated.
Yann Benjamin, of Vail Resorts, said that company will also provide another $200,000 in cash and services — including marketing — to Spring Back events.
Snow Days will also be featured on an upcoming episode of “TrunkFest with Eddie Trunk,” a show on the AXS TV channel.
Council member Jenn Bruno said she’d talked to some of the people involved with the show, who said they were impressed by the work done to put Snow Days together.
While free admission to concerts by high-profile artists may not be sustainable over time, Chapin said it’s a great attraction.
“The level of talent … blows people’s minds,” he said. “’Free’ is a real buzzword.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2930.
Justin Fillmore and his dog Parker had no shelter from the storm when the snow arrived Thursday.