Vail woos Olympians to teach clinics |

Vail woos Olympians to teach clinics

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoThe type of people who come to Vail have increased spending on fitness and wellness. A consultant says the town has to do more to capture this business

VAIL, Colorado –If the Vail Local Marketing District’s plans work out, Vail could be the new hub for various health, wellness and fitness attractions that include Olympians teaching summer camps and workshops in Vail.

The record revenues from just a couple of years ago are long gone, which is why the Vail Local Marketing District’s nine-member Advisory Council has stepped up its efforts in the last year to bring more people to Vail to fill the beds in local hotel rooms during slower, non-winter months.

The Marketing District’s advisory council met with the Vail Economic Advisory Council Tuesday morning to reveal some of the strategies for bringing more people to town in the offseasons. What emerged from the meeting is the district’s goal of making Vail a top spot for health, wellness and fitness.

James Chung, the Reach Advisors analyst the Marketing District hired a year ago to study Vail’s non-winter season revenue potential, gave about an hour-long presentation addressing everything from Vail’s target demographics to nationwide changing demographics to why Vail should jump at the chance to create a summer brand for itself.

Incomes are continuing to drop, based on inflation, for the generation of adults moving into their peak years of family skiing, Chung said.

The bottom line is that the industry has shifted from having broader participation to having higher participation from a smaller base of people, he said – all the more reason to tap into the seasons where Vail has plenty of room to grow, he said.

New trends include people 50 and older redefining what wellness means by taking it into their own hands and not just listening to their doctors. There’s also a “tidal wave” of more athletic women entering their peak spending years, Chung said.

Vail has the chance to beat out other resorts in capturing new business by recognizing this and reacting to it, Chung said. Other resorts are starting to notice the new trends, but nobody is better equipped to react than Vail, he said.

“Vail has a wealth of assets and resources that other resorts would kill to have,” Chung said.

The quality of Vail’s hotels combined with its unique community, among other assets, give it an advantage, Chung said.

The town and business community have to act on that advantage now, though, because the trends are going to be “so obvious in a year that everyone will be going after it,” Chung said.

Beth Slifer, chair of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, said the Advisory Council has named Vail’s new focus “Vail 360.” It represents the total well being of the Vail community, individuals and the Vail economy, she said.

“This (strategy) has the greatest potential for growth,” Slifer said.

Fitness and wellness are also the only categories where Chung and researchers have recognized increases in discretionary spending, meaning fitness and wellness is “replacing luxury as the new marker of wealth,” Chung said.

“It’s more than a short-term reaction to markets – it’s a long-term fundamental shift,” Chung said.

The Marketing District is meeting with “several Olympians” this week to talk about the possibilities of bringing seminars, workshops and sports and fitness camps to Vail, Slifer said.

The camps would ideally attract a broad group of participants, Chung said. While some camps would be elite camps, the Marketing District is aiming to attract everyone from mothers looking to get some exercise to children wanting to advance their abilities in a specific sport.

Chung’s research found that of the U.S. companies with double-digit sales increases in 2009, most of them had some kind of outdoor fitness factor.

Slifer said attracting Olympians to Vail isn’t the only focus. It’s one that the Marketing District can monopolize on quickly, but members are also working on long-term goals for continuing medical education, participatory sporting events and improving the infrastructure in town to accommodate some of the larger goals.

“We have to improve our facilities,” Slifer said. “We need to fill the gaps and improve what we have.”

Vail Councilwoman Susie Tjossem, who is also on the Advisory Council, said the town should look toward Chung’s research for ideas on what to do with the more than $9 million in conference center funds that voters approved to raise several years ago. Voters knocked down an idea to build a conference center with the funds, so the town needs good ideas to present to voters again before it can spend the money.

Consumer trends are moving toward the “decade of total wellness,” Chung said. Total wellness is about the pursuit of passion, and people are going to need to justify how they spend on their passions. If people can practice their passions in Vail, they will come here, put heads in beds in town hotel rooms and bring in revenue when the town needs it most.

“Vail should own this before other (resort towns) recognize it,” Chung said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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