Vail Valley Partnership: Protecting Vail’s brand
Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
As the newly appointed director of marketing for the Vail Valley Partnership, I find this quote telling as to how I hope to contribute to the Partnership. From East Vail to Dotsero, the more we as a collective community come together and fuse the individual marketing efforts of one another while allowing one another to remain to true to its core brand promise, the more powerful the destination will become.
Our individual marketing efforts ultimately point to the same goal ” to position the Vail Valley as the first-choice mountain destination regardless of season.
Assuming that one objective associated with this goal is to increase the number of guests and thus each individual business’ success, we need to keep in mind that to succeed requires a consistent and high-level message across all channels from all businesses. We’re in it together, from the smallest lodge to the nationally branded properties, to the corner deli to four-star restaurant to those providing professional services.
Easier said than done. As a community, we have a tremendous opportunity to work together on high-level strategic marketing efforts such as introducing programs including the Lodging Quality Assurance and the Platinum Service Program to the travel industry as well as to the general public. These Partnership programs are a tremendous competitive advantage for the Vail Valley. Our competitors in other resorts wish they had such programs in place to help ensure high levels of guest service and consistent lodging ratings across brands and management companies. These programs are assets that should be communicated to guests.
Another example of how we can work together to market the destination is through initiatives like the Fly Vail summer and fall air programs, currently supported by numerous local businesses. Thanks to the marketing efforts of these community partners, the program has been largely successful.
Direct flights are now available to and from Chicago and Dallas in the summer, with the Dallas flight continuing through the fall. To kick off the new fall flight to Dallas, a special rate beginning Aug. 15 will allow guests to fly for one dollar per minute (a total of $130 for a one-way flight). The $130 rate also is valid for those traveling from Eagle County to Dallas, so you, too, can take advantage. Look for more information soon, as we will be promoting this flight special locally as well as in the Dallas market.
Marketing is a powerful tool and even more powerful if you can learn to adapt your strategy to the ever-changing means consumers use to gather information. Most would agree that word-of-mouth “advertising” is very important. One old bit of wisdom states that a happy guest tells one person and an unhappy guest tells 10. This ratio is no longer valid due to peer-review Web sites such as TripAdvisor or Gusto.com; a visit to such sites provides powerful comments written by our guests, both positive and negative.
Given research that shows 58 percent of guests use the Web to research travel destinations (travelfocused.com), new wisdom might be that guests will log on to the Internet and base their travel decisions on what they may find.
This change supports the idea that the destination’s popularity is a responsibility we all share. The Vail Valley is an iconic brand. What makes us iconic is not one place or activity, but our collective identity.