Vail Daily column: Is more better, or is better better?
Is more better? Most everyone wants more: more customers, more profits, more time, more something. In reality, it’s a tricky question that doesn’t have an easy yes or no answer.
Maybe more isn’t better; instead, maybe better is better. Most everyone strives for better: Better relationships, better businesses, better communities, better something. In reality, we can likely agree that better is better, even while we disagree on the definition of better.
Community stakeholders including business owners, special interest groups and Vail Daily letter writers are known to occasionally express their frustration related to the dichotomy of more vs. better. This might be expressed over more cars being parked on the frontage road in Vail (during both our peak winter and summer seasons), or in terms of more people in town during special events, or of more people on the mountain creating congestion at the end of a ski day.
But the question “is more better, or is better better?” is based on a faulty premise. It is fundamentally the wrong question to ask. Much like the game show “Jeopardy,” the question should be reframed as an answer: More better is better. We should be striving for both more, and for better.
It’s a timeless issue at its core: quality vs. quantity. I suggest we can have both more, as well as better. These two things are not, and don’t need to be, mutually exclusive.
Consider events such as Bravo! Vail or Vail Valley Foundation’s Mountain Games. These events, on the surface, are quite different. However, they have much in common: Both events have grown organically over the years, offer great economic benefits to the community, are professionally operated and are signature programs for the summer marketing efforts. They continue to add more, and to do it better.
Or consider the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show. This event has grown into one of Colorado’s largest markets and is a “see and be seen” event that rightfully has numerous advocates and supporters. The market brings a positive energy and vibe every Sunday during the summer and into the fall to the Vail Village core area, through Solaris and Meadow Drive. Each year, they do more, and do it better.
It’s not just events, of course, that create “more.” Powder days (and many peak weekends) during the winter season bring more visitors to our mountains — including local traffic and day visitors from the Front Range — creating consternation about parking and lift lines. Vail and Beaver Creek do as good a job as could reasonably be expected to mitigate this, with updated signage and overflow parking (be it the Rodeo Lot in Avon or frontage road parking in Vail). More people on the mountain creates more opportunities for our business community to capture sales. As a business community, we just need to give destination guests, day visitors and locals a compelling reason to linger a bit longer in the village. Powder days bring more people to our towns and better opportunities for our businesses to capture customers.
The concept of “more and better” also justifies continued efforts to increase air service to the Eagle County Regional Airport. Research shows that visitors accessing our community through the Eagle County Regional Airport tend to stay longer, spend more and have a higher inclination to be repeat visitors. There might be no better example of “more and better” than investing in bringing new flight service to the airport, as more visitors with an inclination to spend more, come more often and stay longer creates a better visitor mix for our business community.
PURPOSE BUILT COMMUNITIES
Be it events, parking or access issues, the fact is our mountain communities are purpose built communities and as such we are designed to accommodate peak demand in ways that much of our competition isn’t. That’s a huge benefit to our business community, and although it can create pressure points, we need to keep in mind that many of our competitors would love to have our “problems.”
It reminds me of something a prominent local business owner once told me; he stated “we don’t have a parking problem when our garages fill with customers and folks are forced to use the frontage road. We have a parking problem when our parking garages sit empty.” This simple shift in thinking changes the dynamic and is spot on.
The alternative is, as Yogi Berra eloquently stated, “That place is so popular that no one goes there anymore.”
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership.