Quote about Vail Resorts explained; statement taken out of full context
I do not feel completely comfortable with the way I was quoted in Aidan Leonard’s Vail Resorts (VR) article “Give and Take,” and I need to clarify a couple of things.
I was quoted correctly, but my statement was taken out of context and is somewhat distorted.
First, I worked for Vail Beaver Creek Reservations (VBCR) which is located at Keystone but serves the Vail-Beaver Creek area. I know little about the Summit County lodging community’s relationship with Vail Resorts.
Second, the quotation, “If you stand alone – unless you have a huge reputation – you can’t possibly fill to capacity” was referring to off-peak and off-season in Vail.
Christmas is usually booked solid by September, and of course there is overflow. Every place will be booked to capacity. When Aidan first approached me about my views as a VR employee, I understood that he was looking for both positive and negative impact on the community, not on me as an employee.
Positive impacts are obvious and easy. VR generates thousands of jobs, has great benefits and is a fun place to work. I was hard-pressed to think of anything negative. The only thing I could come up with is that I had, on occasion, encountered -personally or secondhand – complaints about VR’s control or monopoly of lodging.
I admitted I could only speculate as to the causes of this, and recommended to Aidan that he contact former and current managers as well as some property management companies to investigate this.
I stated it could very well just be because “everyone loves to hate the big guy.”
There are advantages to having relationships with large entities, but there are always limiting factors, too.
Using a service costs something, which cuts into your profits. This is one of many potential controlling factors, and no one likes to be controlled. I said “All of the lodging entities did well during peak times, but the resentment might come from knowing they need the service to get through the slow times. During these times S if you stand alone – unless you have a huge reputation – you can’t possibly hope to fill to capacity.”
With VR as a partner, there are large promotions that have the potential to bring bookings to capacity – when that otherwise would not occur.
VR is a very well-run company. The marketing department knows it has to compete not only with other ski resorts but the Caribbean, Disney World, Paris and anywhere else you can imagine a vacation taking place.
It has to sell a dream so powerful it causes vacationers to reach into their wallets for their credit cards and dial that toll-free number. It’s up to the very, very well-trained agents who answer the calls to make the dream come true.
Nobody in the industry does it better than VR. Believe me. VR knows its products, and staff receives extensive training on how to listen to guests so they can be given what they need.
VR knows how to make those phones ring and how to get the people here.
It doesn’t give up because the snow melts, either. It will draw on whatever its creative minds can conjure up to draw people to the mountains. Romantic getaways for the Front Rangers, performances at the Vilar Center S whatever.
I personally am glad it does and I count on it keeping it going. It’s how we work and live here. When I brought up the tension I observed with some of the lodging entities in Vail, I was simply making an objective statement.
I could see how a small business might be intimidated. I asked Aidan a week later if he had contacted the managers I had referred him to. He wanted to stick strictly to Summit County, so he had not. I was therefore surprised to see myself quoted and feel that, under the circumstances, it was perhaps inappropriate.
I also would like to say I don’t see myself as “worried” about the issues that may possibly exist between the lodging community and VR. I haven’t seen any evidence it is insensitive to the needs of small businesses. In trying to remain No. 1 in the ski industry, VR spares no expense at taking care of the guests. As a result it has developed a sort of “one-stop-shopping” approach where vacation packages are custom-built.
This means VR had to branch out into ski rentals in addition to lodging and transportation needs. Some may say that this could constitute a monopoly but judging from the response of others who were interviewed in the article, I would draw the conclusion that there is a healthy balance at work.
Vail Resorts seems to me to be a powerful, but benevolent force, and I have enjoyed working for it.
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