The World's Most Innovative Companies 2017
Vail Resorts is an operator of mountain resorts with more than a dozen ski mountains, a portfolio of hotels, and a handful of real-estate developments across North America and Australia. The Broomfield, Colorado-based company was born from Vail Ski Resort, which was founded in the 1960s by Earl Eaton, a local Coloradoan, and Pete Seibert, a World War II ski trooper with the famed 10th Mountain Division, who once trained near its slopes. Under CEO Rob Katz, the company has been aggressively expanding with an aim to become the world's first global ski brand.
In the past couple of years, Vail has acquired Utah's signature ski resort, Park City; Australia's largest one, Perisher; and Canada's legendary Whistler Resort. It has added these to a collection that also now includes pint-size ski areas outside of Minneapolis, Detroit, and Chicago—satellite properties that help feed customers to Vail's premier Rocky Mountain resorts. It is all part of the company's plan to create a global network of resorts, held together by its addictively low-priced Epic season pass, which allows skiers unlimited access to any of its resorts, anywhere around the world.
For the past decade, Vail has been at the forefront of bringing innovative technology to the ski industry with its RFID-enabled Epic Pass and companion EpicMix app. The Epic Pass fosters skier loyalty, and it also gives the company unparalleled insight into its customers' skiing habits, information that it mines to personalize its marketing and improve the on-mountain experience for guests.
public or private: Public
staff: 5,200 year-round employees; Roughly 21,300 additional seasonal employees during the height of the ski season
headquarters: Broomfield, Colorado