Vail Valley success may lie across the Continental Divide |

Vail Valley success may lie across the Continental Divide

Michael Kurz
Vail, CO, Colorado

Whether the U.S. economy is in a recession, in the midst of a recession or far from a recession is a subject I’ll let the economists debate. Recession or not, while it’s true many of our guests are immune to recession woes ,that’s not true for a large segment of the economy, so marketing to the fiscally-conscious consumer may be just the thing to generate near-term “incremental” business for the Valley.

Every day, national media report about the changing traveling and purchasing habits of consumers in response to sky-high fuel costs, airline industry turmoil and the depreciation of the U.S. dollar. Informal studies have suggested many summer travelers, particularly families, will look to nearby driving destinations this year instead of a jaunt overseas or a week spent on a cruise liner. Targeting driving destinations means marketing the valley to surrounding communities like those along the Front Range and encouraging and embracing their patronage.

Front Range demographics such as gender, income and education are fine profile fits with our targeted summer customer. And many Front Rangers are not aware of the seasonal price differentiation between summer and winter here. There is a substantial opportunity now to leverage and capitalize on the segment looking to travel affordably to a magnificent destination.

Last week’s Teva Mountain Games perfectly illustrates, once again, how important Front Range visitors are. The kayakers rushed, climbers climbed, mountain bikers biked, but most important, the spectators were roaming the villages and filling the local eateries, bars and retail establishments with energy and excitement.

The word-of-mouth marketing (traditional and untraditional) put behind this event was successful, and many Vail Village restaurants and retailers verified it was the best results from Teva crowds they had seen since the event’s inception.

Coming up, Vail at $81.50, a three-year-old promotion targeting the Front Range and created by the Vail Local Marketing District, entices guests to escape the Denver summer heat and head to Vail to capitalize on a variety of amazing deals, all tied into enjoying Vail’s 8,150 foot altitude at a price of $81.50.

Valid between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1, this promotion communicates that Vail is a great place, well-priced, and that it’s a great time to visit Vail for a family adventure or a romantic escape.

Opportunities are numerous to promote travel during volatile economic times. Thanks to American Airlines, businesses in the Vail Valley have a reason to market outside the state. American recently announced a summer fare sale to and from the Eagle County Regional Airport for travel from June 12 through Aug. 31. Sample fares include Dallas/Ft. Worth at $168; New Orleans at $200 and fares from New York/LaGuardia or Newark, Miami, Boston, Orlando and Tampa for $209. To learn more about this summer fare sale, contact the Partnership at 970-476-1000 and ask to for the marketing department.

The examples above focus on getting more guests from the Front Range and “easy” air markets because if we make it easy for guest to get here, they are more likely to come. But let’s not forget the key fundamentals that motivate people to travel. In today’s uncertain economic environment, it’s important to remember that we should never stop promoting what we have to offer.

First, free time is a luxury and most of us are free -time deprived. Any service that saves time and offers great value will always attract customers. Second, ever since 9/11, friends and family have become greater priorities. Most of us are looking to find quality time and a nearby vacation that costs less and requires less time in travel (airborne or otherwise) has a great deal of appeal.

Third, there a very few places in the world with the natural beauty, fee-free activities and lodging/restaurant options we offer here. From Vail to Glenwood Springs, this place is a ball in the summer and Front Range families only need a little encouragement to venture to or rediscover this awesome part of Colorado.

As I push my keyboard back, today’s going oil prices may have already gone up, so before it gets too expensive for families to leave their neighborhoods, act now. Set a good value proposition, make an offer in a fun and creative way, deliver the message and serve the heck out of ’em when they get here.

Michael Kurz is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.

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