Vail has long aimed a significant part of its summer marketing at drive-up guests from the Front Range. That’s changing.
The town’s marketing program, led by the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, this year is aimed at destination guests — those who generally fly in, stay longer and spend more. To do that, the Vail Local Marketing District, working with Cactus, the creative agency the town has used for some time, developed a campaign called “Life Is But a Dream” aimed at those longer-staying guests.
A portion of one of the promotional videos is on the home page of DiscoverVail.com. The longer video is set to run on websites and social media sites in Chicago, Washington D.C. and markets where Vail is already popular with “high net worth” individuals. Versions of the video are also booked into movie theaters in those markets.
The video sets an aspirational tone, with an attractive couple floating over some of Vail’s more popular spots, including Vail Village, Lionshead and, of course, the great outdoors.
At the April 19 meeting of the Vail Town Council, Jeff Strahl, Cactus’ creative director for the Vail project, went over some of what the campaign intends to convey.
“We’re capturing the magic of Vail,” Strahl said, adding that the message is that a Vail visit is “peaceful, serene, blissful.”
What’s ‘uniquely Vail’?
Vail Economic Development Director Mia Vlaar said the campaign conveys “what’s uniquely Vail that others can’t lay claim to.” The video, which includes drone footage, captured a moose browsing in a creek near town.
The campaign includes a handful of “dream packages.” Those packages, put together with local lodges and businesses, range from a golf experience to fishing to a package that celebrates the 10th Mountain Division.
The packages are aimed at high net worth visitors, and have prices that start at about $12,000.
Malen Yantis Public Relations has long worked with the Vail Local Marketing District on summer marketing. Firm owner Kristin Yantis in a phone conversation said those dream packages are mostly aspirational, and meant to inspire people to dream of what a unique itinerary trip could be.
While there may not be many dream packages booked, people can win one of three of those packages via the DiscoverVail website.
In a phone interview, Vlaar said the campaign fits in with the town’s focus on sustainable tourism. That effort comes in response to high levels of visitation and crowding on some trails that begin in town.
The town is also working on a program, called “StewardVail,” to adjust town policy to a focus that combines sustainability with economic development.
Vlaar said visitor data shows that destination visitors tend to more closely embrace values of sustainability.
In addition to that tendency to embrace sustainability and stewardship efforts, Vlaar said there are also plenty of ways to learn about respecting waterways and trails, as well as ways to enjoy the town without the need of an automobile.
Vlaar noted that many destination guests don’t bring a car to Vail. The town’s existing transit system helps people get around, and it’s also becoming more easy to get to trailheads and other activities thanks to shuttles from many of the town’s lodges.
On the surface, sustainability and economic development seem like very different goals. That isn’t necessarily true.
But Vail Environmental Sustainability Director Kristen Bertuglia said one can’t happen without the other.
Bertuglia said without stewardship, there’s a danger of losing what makes Vail — or other mountain resorts — the special places they are.
The challenge, she added, is that the stewardship message can’t be a one-time thing. People want to live like locals, Bertuglia said.
“They want an authentic experience,” she added. Whether that’s golf, or biking or hiking, “I think that’s where we can connect with people.”
Bertuglia noted that people in mountain resorts are “still learning” about ways to marry economic development and sustainability.
“Other places are doing the exact same work at the exact same time,” Bertuglia said. “Resort mountain communities are recognizing that stewardship is critical.”