Vail Resorts Doubles Down With SapientNitro

Skiing brand leans on agency for new summer tourism product

Thanks to a piece of national legislation passed last fall, Vail Resorts is gearing up for summertime revenues in the same mountains where it offers ski slopes to consumers. Through a program dubbed Epic Discovery, Vail will, beginning in 2014, offer mountainside tours, outdoors education programs and fun rides like the “Forest Flyer” from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The company announced today SapientNitro as the agency of record for the new product. 

The firms are extending a three-year relationship, though the summer project effectively doubles the size of the account, according to SapientNitro. The New York-based agency will spearhead branding and digital strategy for the new tourism/hospitality product that will target vacationing and day-tripping families.

Kirsten Lynch, CMO of Broomfield, Colo.-based Vail Resorts, said SapientNitro won the business based on its past performance, such as with the Epic Mix effort. The media plan for Epic Discovery, Lynch said, will likely include a bevy of digital elements when the campaign fully emerges.

“Digital and social will play a significant role,” she said. Regarding paid ads, Lynch said they “do [typically] play a role in our marketing mix.” A microsite has already launched.

Brad Simms, svp at SapientNitro, said his team plans to nail down Epic Discovery’s brand identity and then focus on innovation. “I’m sure mobile and tablets will be involved,” he said.

President Barack Obama signed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunities Enhancement Act into law during November 2011, allowing brands like Vail Resorts to access year-round commercial permits from the U.S. Forest Service. Such recreational businesses had been legally limited to Nordic and alpine skiing since 1986.

Meanwhile, it's the second piece of major business that SapientNitro has picked up in the last couple of months. In June, it won the opportunity to overhaul Nascar's digital properties.