On October 7, 2020

Vail Resorts eliminates 60 resort-based marketing positions

By Lisa Lynn, VT SKI & Ride

On Sept. 29 Vail Resorts announced one more move in the consolidation of its personnel in Colorado: The company that owns Mount Snow, Okemo, Stowe and 34 other resorts eliminated 60 positions in their resort-based marketing and communications teams. The company announced a restructuring that will centralize many of those roles at their Broomfield, Colo. headquarters.

Vail Resorts released the following statement:

“As an integrated network of resorts, with a centralized corporate team, our company is able to pivot and innovate, even in the most dynamic situations. As we look toward this season and beyond, it is critical that we continue to transform and optimize how we work in order to best position our company for the future.

“The changes announced today are the final step of a restructuring of our resort marketing organization. Resort brand strategy will be centralized in our corporate offices in Broomfield, Colorado, to create closer alignment to our data and insights and to grow our world-class brands. Our resort marketing activation staff will combine with our resort communications teams based locally to bring to life each unique brand. This will result in around 60 fewer marketing roles in resort across our 34 North American locations and the creation of 22 new roles centrally in Broomfield. Our resort leadership teams will continue to be very engaged in owning, promoting and protecting the brand identity for each resort, and will remain fully connected with our local communities to maintain the strong partnerships that will continue to help drive our collective success.

“Between the 22 new, centrally-based brand marketing roles and marketing and communications roles based in our resorts, there are currently 65 open positions, for which any impacted employees are eligible to apply. We fully recognize that change can be challenging for those involved, and we are committed to supporting our employees through this transition,” the statement concluded.

In Vermont, Jamie Storrs, the senior communications director for the Northeast confirmed that 10 marketing roles were eliminated, but that many impacted employees were being encouraged to apply for new positions.  “We currently have seven new open marketing and communications roles there for which any impacted employee can apply,” he said.

The move follows the same playbook that Vail Resorts has used for many of its other operations, consolidating the individual resorts’ finance and other back-end operations in Bloomfield.

Since the spread of Covid-19 shuttered many operations Vail Resorts has been tightening its belt. Last April, the company furloughed more than 2,000 employees in Colorado, alone, The Denver Post reported. As of mid-September, 410 of those positions had been fully eliminated, the Summit Daily reported.

Since Vail Resorts acquired its Vermont resorts, communications have been tightly controlled by the corporate headquarters and releases have come directly from Colorado, or recently, from video or letters from CEO Rob Katz.

With a pipeline to its 850,000 passholders, as well as its Epic Mix app, Vail Resorts is able to manage most messaging.

The recent layoffs come on the heels of a quarterly earnings call where the company announced they had sold 850,000 Epic Passes for the 2020/21 season —18% over the previous year. That would have been a dollar increase of 24%, year-over-year except that pass refunds and deferrals ate into those profits, bringing a net revenue decline of 4% over the 2019/20 season. With the pass refunds and deferrals, total lift revenue decreased $120.0 million or 11.6% but still totaled $913.1 million.

Overall, according to financial statements, net revenue decreased $312 million, or 13.7%, to $1,958.9 million, primarily due to the closure of resorts, retail stores and lodging properties during Covid-19, as well as the deferral of $121 million of pass revenue to the 2021 fiscal year as a result of credits offered to 2019/2020 North American pass holders.

CEO Katz ended his quarterly report with the following note: “We are focused on disciplined cost management to efficiently operate the business. As previously mentioned, we plan to operate all of our North American resorts with a full terrain footprint, consistent with historical practices and conditions permitting, in order to ensure a comprehensive guest experience…. However, given our lower expected visitation and revenue for the upcoming year, we have continued to actively manage our cost structure, including but not limited to the implementation of cost reductions totaling over $70 million on an annualized basis as compared to our original operating expense expectations for fiscal 2020.”

This story was first published at vtskiandride.com

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