Vail Valley Partnership CEO: Groups, meetings a crucial part of the Vail Valley economy (column) | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Partnership CEO: Groups, meetings a crucial part of the Vail Valley economy (column)

Chris Romer
Vail Valley Partnership

There's good news for Colorado tourism and the impact of travel on Eagle County and the Colorado economy.

Tourism contributes $1 billion in annual spending to Eagle County, resulting in $251.5 million in wages and 7,500 local jobs. Equally impressively, the travel sector contributes over $45 million in local tax collections to our municipalities and county. Wages, jobs, and tax contributions continue to grow year over year.

The Colorado Tourism Office commissions an annual study with Dean Runyon Associates to compile the economic impact of travel on Colorado on a county-by-county level.

Statewide, tourism saves each Colorado household $560. Said another way, each Colorado household would have to pay $560 per year in additional taxes to make up for the impact of the travel industry. And a large part of our local impact is due to spending and visitation by group and meeting attendees.

While the group and meetings industry — not to mention the travel industry — is one with considerable reach, and has long understood that meetings truly mean business — there's been a lack of information exactly quantifying their worth. Now, thanks to a recent Oxford Economics study, we know how valuable face-to-face meetings are for the U.S. economy, and more importantly, American workers and households.

The data shows it is of paramount importance to continue increase awareness of the Vail Valley throughout the state, region and nation to help continue the positive economic impacts that benefit organizations and businesses in our community.

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In an age of Skype, social media, webinars and conference calls, you may assume that face-to-face business meetings and business events like corporate retreats and association meetings are obsolete and unnecessary — but new economic impact data shows that could not be farther from the truth.

Groups and Meetings

Locally, an important and often under-appreciated component of our tourism industry is groups and meetings. Vail Valley Partnership is proud to partner with the Vail Local Marketing District, Beaver Creek Resort Company, local lodging properties and other stakeholders to promote the valley as a group and meeting location.

These organizations recognize the importance of groups and meetings to our economy, and continue to invest in efforts to drive more group visitation.

Groups and meetings contribute more visitors than leisure visitation during the shoulder season months of May, June, September and October — and also contribute significantly to mid-week business throughout the peak winter and summer season.

Corporate retreats, board meetings, association programs and government travel helps drive our group business in the Vail Valley. Great things happen for these businesses and organizations when people come together. Face-to-face interaction is the platform where deals are struck, relationships are forged and ideas are generated. That's why group sales is vital to our tourism promotion efforts: showing the real power of what business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions collectively do for our local people, businesses and communities.

It is why a large component of our destination marketing effort targets recruiting groups, meetings and special events to the valley.

Meetings mean business in destinations across Colorado; we're no exception here in Vail and Beaver Creek. Group and meeting sales is yet another example of the sum of the whole being greater than the individual parts, resulting in positive impact to our community when entities work together.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.