Vail Valley Voices: Events fill the breach
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report in February. We plan to publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town.
Many are doubtful that without large government stimulated infrastructure projects, the United States will not experience another unprecedented construction boom for perhaps another decade or longer. Reports of unemployment rates in recent months for the nation’s construction industry vary from 17 to 22 percent, greater than for most other broadly defined employment classifications. Unemployment in Eagle County, with its high percentage of development dependent jobs, has increased over the same reporting periods in 2009. Some local employers are receiving job applications for $16 per hour entry-level positions from highly skilled development professionals anxious to have employment. Policy makers are awaiting the initial findings of the 2010 Census data to determine the degree of outmigration related to the end of the construction boom. Observers note that the outmigration is likely continuing.
Real estate sales for Vail proper are showing signs that the steady decline in prices over the past two years may be reaching bottom. Residential property sales and associated transfer tax revenues are moving beyond the record-low levels of 2009. As one Realtor reflected on Vail real estate, “Yes, the market activity no longer requires the patient to be in intensive care, but what kind of growth and appreciation rates can we expect going forward?” Property sales in the surrounding region have as yet not shown a similar rebound in sales.
Some analysts caution that the reported sales data could be a misleading trend as many sellers have taken their properties off the open market waiting for more advantageous conditions. Foreclosure rates still remain on the increase, particularly in worker communities. The local media reports that financing for affordable housing mortgages is becoming more available.
The domestic economy, while keeping the community buzzing with crowds engaged in organized entertainment events, shows few signs of upward movement in profit margins as reflected in the town’s sales tax revenues. A survey of consumer sentiment from this past summer season worryingly reports that visitors are far less inclined to shop in Vail than they were in years past.
The report indicates on the positive side that visitors are finding Vail’s new image very appealing, key to building consumer satisfaction and loyalty. These indicators can be converted into greater revenue potential .. .when domestic economic conditions improve. Analysts caution that the consumer survey may not accurately reflect the income levels and country of origin of those surveyed, as many people are reluctant to divulge their personal information.
Vail’s event planners are taking advantage of historic trends that cause domestic consumers during economic contractions to spend on “entertainment” and save by cutting back spending on consumables, a boon for the lodging, food and beverage, a bane for retailers. A recent report by Vail Valley Foundation, Vail’s largest event promoter, gives a profile of their 2010-11 events, attendance and economic impact statistics.
Cultural and sports competitions events lead the list of venues that attract entertainment oriented consumers. Notably, for the future summer season the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival has renewed a multiyear contract with the New York Philharmonic. The Vail Jazz Festival is seeking to expand its events throughout the summer.
The Vail Valley Foundation anticipates adding activities that give a broader appeal to the Teva Mountain Games. The foundation and others have inked a long-term agreement for Vail to be a host city for one to two stages of the Quiznos Pro Challenge men’s cycling race. This is the inaugural race by the Denver-based Quiznos company. Race promoters are hoping it will become the American version of the Tour de France, which will bring cache to Vail’s international image. Local organizers anticipate that the promotional value of the Quiznos’ road and Teva mountain bike races will raise Vail higher on the must-visit list for all aspects of cycling tourism, if there is an assertive followup on their marketing initiatives.
It remains to been seen if racing events add to the community’s bottom line, as sporting events have a checkered record as big revenue generators. They have been most successful in attracting day visitor spectators and overnight guests during periods of lower occupancy. The entourage that accompany these types of races help fill local lodging, but often at a heavily discounted room rate.
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