Pieces of marketing picture emerge
Ryan Summerlin August 25, 2013
VAIL — Vail Resorts doesn’t reveal much about its business outside quarterly earnings calls, but Vail Mountain’s marketing manager Aug. 20 gave the Vail Town Council a peak at some of what the company is working on for both winter and summer business.
Davy Ratchford’s presentation to the council included a look at the company’s proposed Epic Discovery summer programs. Ratchford said the program — which still requires approval from the U.S. Forest Service — should be fully operational by the summer of 2015, with mountain activities ranging from a “forest flyer” ride to more and better hiking and biking trails, as well as a new focus on summer business at The 10th, the on-mountain restaurant at Mid Vail.
The winter plan is a little more simple — sort of.
“The challenge is to achieve lots of skier visits,” Ratchford said.
To make that happen, Ratchford said the company will work to build its pre-Christmas business. Last season was almost two seasons, Ratchford said, with the split coming about Dec. 20.
In addition to early-season business, Ratchford said Vail Resorts will continue to work on bringing guests from Mexico and Brazil. But, Ratchford said, a weekly flight from Toronto this coming season could be a “game changer.” That flight, announced a few weeks ago, will allow passengers in Canada to clear U.S. customs before crossing the border. That means guests catching a connecting flight from Europe or other parts of Canada through Toronto will be able to get off the plane and head straight for the mountain.
Since the flight to Eagle County arrives before noon, Ratchford said people can ski the same day they fly. With a flight later in the day back to Toronto, people can get in a few runs, or a meal or some shopping, before heading home.
Ratchford said Vail Resorts is also looking at “solidifying” service out of Texas, adding that there’s an opportunity for more business out of the Los Angeles market.
The company will presumably try to sell more Epic Passes in Los Angeles since it’s going to operate the Canyons Mountain Resort in Utah, a market popular with Southern California skiers.
Other marketing targets include “re-capturing” guests who may not have come in some time, as well as working to build weekday business, Ratchford said.
Ultimately, Ratchford said, “The opportunity is where the gaps are now.”