Established in 1997, Vail Resorts is an operator of mountain resorts with nine mountains, 3 urban ski areas, 23 hotels, and a handful of real-estate developments across North America and, more recently, 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 both Utah's signature ski resort, Park City, and Australia's largest one, Perisher. 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. For the past decade, Vail has been at the forefront of bringing innovative technology to the ski industry with its RFID-enabled Epic season pass and companion EpicMix app. The low-priced Epic Pass fosters skier loyalty by offering unlimited access to all of Vail's mountains. 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. Behind these programs is the forward-thinking Katz, who has also introduced major sustainability initiatives to the company.
The company's competitive advantage in 2016:
An unbeatable loyalty program that combines some of world's best ski mountains with a low-priced season pass
The biggest challenges standing in this company's way in 2016:
Maintaining revenue year-round by enticing people to visit its mountains in the off-season
What to look out for:
Vail will continue expanding its resort network in the coming year. Look for more acquisitions of mountains outside of major urban centers, and properties in Canada, China, Japan, and Europe.
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