Vail Resorts Pursues Minority Market

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MIAMI -- Colorado-based Vail Resorts said it named Roberto Moreno chairman of the Mountain Diversity Task Force, a group that will try to boost minority participation in skiing.

The goal is to increase the participation of minorities to 10% of the U.S. ski market within five years, Moreno said. "We thought it was imperative that the skiing community reach out and [attract] minorities," he said. "There are many Hispanics, blacks and Asians who ski, but not in significant numbers in terms of the total market for mountain recreation." Moreno said minorities account for almost $1 trillion in spendable income.

The task force was launched in June, Moreno said. It is planning its first promotional effort in the Miami area; Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago will be targeted at later dates.

Among the first national promotional channels will be a page on Vail Resort's Web site, www.snow.com, he said. Called Mountain Diversity, it is slated to appear Aug. 15.

Moreno said Miami was chosen for the initial campaign because it is the nation's second-largest ski market and has a large Hispanic market. "There's great potential among Hispanics who are not aware of the ski vacation," said Olga Ramudo of Express Travel here. Ramudo, also a member of the task force, said her agency has been developing the South Florida market for about 10 years and operates as many as 12 charters a season to the Vail area. "Express Travel is a good example of what a travel agency with sufficient infrastructure can do to get Hispanics to ski," she said.

To help develop the market in other areas, Moreno said, the task force is preparing all-inclusive ski packages for promotion by agencies with a large minority clientele. Moreno, who operates the Hotel Frisco in Frisco, Colo., said that, in addition to attracting more minority visitors to the central Rockies, the group seeks to increase minority managerial positions among resorts there. Another objective, he said, is to increase the numbers of young persons interested in skiing, he said. "Skiing is one of those things that, the earlier you start, the greater your interest," he said.

Ramudo praised Vail Associates chairman Adam Aron, who was based in Miami for two years as president of Norwegian Cruise Line, for inspiring the campaign and said, "Because he spent time in South Florida, he's sensitive to the fact that there's potential for [attracting] minorities to the ski community." Also playing a major role in the campaign is Vail marketing executive Bruce Mainzer.

Moreno emphasized that the campaign is not directed at Latin Americans but at U.S. citizens. "Vail has already been successful in attracting Latin American skiers, who now comprise 6% to 7% of [its] ski business," he said. For that reason, he said, promotional materials in Spanish are not a campaign priority.

However, those travel agencies that feel they can benefit from distributing materials in Spanish can obtain them directly from Vail Associates' marketing department, he said.

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