Vail’s summer popularity is growing |

Vail’s summer popularity is growing

Dominique Taylor/

VAIL – Vail may be on the brink of becoming as popular in the summer as the winter.

For just about as long as Vail has existed, it’s been a summer weekend getaway for Front Range visitors – it’s easy to get to, cooler than Denver in August, and room rates are pretty reasonable compared to winter.

For just about as long, people who market Vail in the summer have tried to draw “destination” guests – people flying in from out of state or from other countries. Front Range guests are welcome, always, but the people who fly in generally stay longer and spend more.

Luring those guests has always been tricky, primarily because of money. Just a few TV or radio ads in a major media market would quickly drain virtually any summer marketing budget.

That’s why the Vail Local Marketing District this year has some different plans to attract those visitors, making the best possible use of its money. In some cases, summer marketing is using the Internet to reach as many people as possible. In other cases, though, there’s some serious sideways thinking going on.

For instance, when Lindsey Vonn came back to Vail in early March, she hosted a “Ski Girls Rock” session that included one of Brazil’s top young ski racers. That invitation has turned into a feature story in Brazil’s top teen magazine. That, in turn, will turn into at least a few “Daddy, I want to go to Vail, too!” conversations in upscale Brazilian households.

Vail Mountain Marketing Director Adam Sutner, a member of the local marketing district board, said the group did something a bit similar for the Mexican market. The district purchased a back-page ad in a new food and travel magazine in that country which said, essentially, “If you love Vail in the winter, you’ll love it in the summer.”

The district then bought an extra 2,000 copies of the magazine and distributed it to Mexican guests in Vail this past ski season.

Vail ought to be a natural summer vacation spot for the Mexico City market, Sutner said.

“It’s a three and a half hour flight, it’s a place you know you’re welcome and a place you’re likely to run into some of your countrymen,” Sutner said.

While visitors from Mexico or Brazil are likely to fly into Denver at the moment, marketing district chairwoman Beth Slifer said that group is working with Eagle County officials to help bring a U.S. Customs facility to the Eagle County Regional Airport.

“That will create an enormous ability to attract charter flights from those countries,” Slifer said.

While direct summer flights from Chicago or, particularly, Miami, aren’t on the schedule this summer, Sutner said he expects those flights to return in coming years.

Beyond the drive to draw international visitors in the summer, the marketing district is also using new ways to tap into the minds of people who might want to fly in from Chicago or New York.

These days, Vail Resorts grabs video footage of virtually everything that goes on in the valley. That video is put on the company’s website, Facebook page and other social media channels, of course, but the videos are also likely to turn up in ads on, say, The New York Times’ website. And that, Sutner said, can be very effective.

“Vail plays better in video,” Sutner said. “It really portrays the brand.”

Better yet, that message is affordable.

Between new technology and new thinking, Greg Moffet thinks the marketing district may finally have found a way to accomplish a mission that’s been discussed for years.

Moffet, a Vail Town Council member and former marketing district board member, also runs an advertising company.

“What we’re doing now is much more efficient,” Moffet said. “It’s light-years past what we’ve been doing.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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