Vail Valley: New business wants to find deals for skiers, boarders | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley: New business wants to find deals for skiers, boarders

Scott N. MillerVail, CO, Colorado

To hear Davis Smith tell it, the American Ski & Board Association wants to be a kind of snowsports equivalent to the American Automobile Association. The trouble is, the company is starting – re-starting, actually – when marketing budgets in the Vail Valley and elsewhere are already stretched.The association has a three-person sales team in Eagle and Summit counties for the next couple of weeks, trying to sell lodges, restaurants, shops and other businesses on being included in a guide to deals at winter resorts. The target audience will be association members, who pay $15 membership dues to access the association’s services.Smith, the company president, said the association’s been revived by founder John Hamilton. Hamilton sold the company in the mid-1990s, when it claimed membership of about 300,000. According to Smith, about 15,000 people have signed up for discounts with the new company. The goal, he said, is to have as many as 100,000 members signed up by the time the next ski season starts.Company representatives will hit between 20 and 25 ski and snowboard shows this fall to get membership cards into people’s hands.The problem, though, is whether potential advertisers will see value in a company that few people have heard of. It’s $1,290 per year to get into the association’s guidebook and Web site. That’s a check that might be hard to write for an unproven product.”If I’m a business, I’ll have to ask myself if I’m better off marketing to people who haven’t come, or to people who are already here,” said Chris Romer, sales and marketing director for the Vail Valley Partnership.Romer said the idea of the association is interesting, but he didn’t want to comment more until he learned more about the company.But, he added, local stores, restaurants and lodges have free on-line advertising options right now. Everyone who books a room through the partnership’s reservation services gets an e-mail with “vacation saver” offers, Romer said. Any business can participate in the program.Any business in Vail has free access to the Vail All the Love program, and Vail Resorts has a similar program running with its Beaver Creek My Way promotion. “I don’t want to pick on these people,” Romer said. “But there are a lot of free options out there.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.