Over a four-day period beginning January 19, 2012, Killington, Vermont played host to the second stop of the winter Dew Tour. The Pantech Invitational at Killington Resort saw over 32,000 tour supporters and staff members fill every available hotel room, parking space, and restaurant booth in town. For the second year in a row hosting the Dew Tour, the Killington community once again embraced the madness, knowing that not only would they directly benefit from the crowds, but also once again gain national exposure from NBC’s live event coverage. Of which could not have come at a better time considering the less than stellar snowfall thus far in the Northeast, a variable that has effected both local businesses and the corporate-run Killington Resort.
To put the lack of snow and its impact in perspective, Killington Resort is reportedly down some 8% in revenue due to underwhelming crowds during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and MLK weekend. And although the Dew Tour and its accompanying crowds won’t make this back, the economic impact is still significant. On Friday the 20th alone, Killington Resort General Manager Chris Nyberg projected food and beverage sales alone at Bear Mountain base area to have exceeded $20,000 from attendance that tripled what one would generally see on an average weekend day. Even with resort lodging booked to the brim and retail sales hitting a season high, Nyberg remains adamant that the greater impact is to be felt in the weeks following the tour. “The bigger value is after—the post-tour still has resonance with the people down country.” By this Nyberg is speaking to the expected increase in visitors wanting to ride the same hill and superpipe they just watched the pros ride on NBC.
Bill Langlands, owner of local Darkside Snowboard Shop, said he’s noticed a sales increase both in shop and online since last year’s inaugural stop. This time around he expected to see a bump of 20-25% over the four-day weekend. “The whole [Killington] Road is feeling the benefit this year. It’s definitely a bonus,” says Langlands. Although he admits the immediate effects are great, what he’s more excited about is the national exposure, “you can’t put a dollar figure on exposure. The tour coverage is going to show everybody in the Northeast and the world what Killington can do with no snow.” With this he’s hoping the rumors of poor conditions will be silenced by the tour’s televised coverage. That people will see there is riding to be had at Killington, and it’s actually pretty good.
Elsewhere in town, the enthusiasm continued as restaurants boasted up to two-hour waits and local bars saw lines like it was NYC. Not to mention similar prices ($30 entrees and $6 bud lights). However, the local grocery store saw little impact. When asked, they simply said Saturday was busy, but nothing worth taking note of. With this in mind it seems the economic impact of the Dew Tour may more appropriately be measured not in weekend attendance totals or revenue percentage points, but on a more lasting level of national awareness.