Vail’s Beth Slifer stepping away from her marketing role
Slifer has led the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council since its inception
Beth Slifer has been invested in building Vail’s business since shortly after she arrived in the 1980s. Now it’s someone else’s turn.
Slifer this year declined to seek another term on the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council. That group is responsible for spending about $3 million in revenue collected through a dedicated lodging tax.
Slifer has been on that council since its inception, and has been the board’s chairperson the entire time. After 21 years, she thought it was time to step away.
The Vail Town Council at its Dec. 15 meeting passed a proclamation recognizing Slifer’s years of dedication to her adopted home town.
The proclamation notes the role of the marketing district advisory council in helping “transform Vail into a major summer mountain resort destination.”
An evolving mission
The marketing district’s job has evolved over the years. The marketing district over the years has adjusted its focus from summer only to include spring and fall. The ways the district gets out its message have changed, too.
As you’d expect, the advertising for summer in Vail has transitioned from mostly print to mostly digital. And, after decades of relying on Vail Mountain and its various owners to get the town’s message out, the district last year launched DiscoverVail.com.
“We’ve never had control of the message for summer,” Slifer said, adding that the move to a unique website was “brave.” DiscoverVail is a long-term project, she added, but results are already being seen.
The website offers a rundown of things to do and see. It also has a lodging booking engine that offers no-fee reservations for both guests and lodges.
Slifer brought a good deal of marketing expertise to Vail with her. She’d been working in marketing in Chicago before marrying Rod Slifer and moving to Vail. Moving to Vail led Slifer to join the town’s summer marketing committee in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I love marketing and I love Vail,” she said. “This was a way to put some of my experiences together.”
In the late 1990s, Slifer led an effort at the Colorado legislature that resulted in a bill that allowed creation of local marketing districts. Vail was the first town in the state to establish one of those districts.
A strong influence
Over the years, Slifer influenced a number of people on the advisory council.
“She’s been an incredible mentor to me and so many others,” said Laurie Mullen, vice-chairperson of the advisory council. “It’s been wonderful to have such a strong person in a leadership role.”
Mullen said Slifer has been the “quintessential spokesperson for Vail, not just for summer, but Vail as a whole.”
Slifer said she’s leaving the advisory council on a high note. She noted that Vail is coming off a remarkably successful summer season, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vail appeals to “people’s desire to feel safer,” Slifer said. To draw people to the area, the advisory council had to quickly shift its marketing efforts. More emphasis was put on reaching out to people driving to the valley. At first, promotion was directed within a roughly 500-mile radius of Vail. That radius quickly expanded as more people from farther-flung locales came to the mountains.
“We targeted Florida, Texas and California,” in addition to closer states, she said.
The result was the town being down just 11% in sales and lodging taxes between May and October. Early-pandemic forecasts indicated those tax revenues could be down by 50%.
Slifer said COVID has probably accelerated a number of trends that were bubbling anyway, including more long drives on family trips and more remote work.
As the marketing district and its advisory board face a COVID-free landscape, Slifer said she’s confident the current board will continue to boost Vail’s business outside the ski season.
“It’s a wonderful team,” she said. “We’ve added new board members who bring youthful energy, a lot of digital knowledge and, hopefully a lot of new ideas.”
While Slifer is taking a step away from serving on the advisory council, she also recently accepted an invitation to serve on the board of the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.
But, she added, she’ll always be a booster of the town’s efforts.
“Marketing Vail is like living in Vail,” she said, adding that both come from a love of the place.
“It’s been my pleasure to be involved in marketing Vail,” she said.
The Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council in 2019 launched DiscoverVail.com as a resource for what the town offers.
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