COOs must act on words of destination |

COOs must act on words of destination

Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. After years of seeing destination visitation decline in Summit County, competing ski area executives are starting to see the wisdom of joint efforts to reverse the trend.

We hope the good intentions gain a foothold on reality.

Nobody knows what this means yet for Vail Resorts and Intrawest to think collectively instead of competitively. Maybe the first meeting won’t come after the cutthroat pass prices are announced, but anytime soon thereafter would work. And that time is now.

As most know, destination visitors are a better-spending customer than the day skiers. That’s not to denigrate day skiers, as is the practice of some. The growth in day skiers has helped build a subcategory of destination visitor, the Colorado overnight. It has been a saving grace.

At this point, some locals might be silently swearing and wishing for the good old days when only they and mostly destination skiers had the mountain to themselves. On busy days, we think the same thing, but we also think the pass price wars took a huge negative away from the sport of snowriding – the cost.

Back on point – for three years, Copper Mountain’s David Barry has preached the wisdom of working collaboratively to attract visitors to Summit County first, then worrying about who gets the business later.

That makes perfect sense, because our informal surveys on chairlifts indicate that the visitors are already coming here with just that idea – to move their dollars and fun around to the different Summit County resorts. In fact, many visitors skiing in Summit County split their time with Vail Mountain, as well.

After Barry first broached the topic three falls ago at a Summit County Chamber of Commerce Ski Area COO Luncheon, the chamber went on to form an “Experience the Summit” campaign to tout the whole county.

The effort has been minimal and underfunded. While many like the idea, nobody is voting with corresponding marketing dollars, least of all Vail Resorts, which owns Keystone and Breckenridge, or Intrawest, owner of Copper Mountain.

As the chief operating officers note, much can be done jointly whether it’s working on relief for Interstate 70 or dealing with the high cost of flying into Denver International Airport.

Breckenridge and Keystone Chief Operating Office Roger McCarthy are keen on developing free buses from the Front Range to Summit County. That will take a multifaceted, multiresort-supported effort, for sure.

We think Eagle County Regional Airport is untapped by Summit County. Something innovative should be done there, as well.

We think the public will watch the progress on this issue with much interest and hope. We are.

Opinions published in this space are formulated by members of the Summit Daily News editorial board: Michael Bennett, Jim Pokrandt, Jason Starr, Rachel Toth, Reid Williams, Kim Nicoletti and Martha Lunsky.

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