Vail Resorts to hire more U.S. workers
August 28, 2009
VAIL, Colo. – Vail consistently ranks among some of the world’s best ski resorts and caters to guests from all around the world – and those international guests like to feel at home when they’re here.
That’s one of the reasons that Vail Resorts will always hire international workers, said Kelly Ladyga, company spokeswoman. The company has a long history of hiring international workers – workers who collectively speak more than 30 languages, have loyal clients in ski school year after year and workers who have been with the company for years and know its culture and guests, Ladyga said.
Vail Resorts has roughly 16,000 employees in its entire company – that includes its lodging brand RockResorts, Heavenly in Lake Tahoe and Grand Teton Lodge Company. Of those 16,000 employees, about 4 percent are international, Ladyga said.
Ladyga said there is some seasonal work domestic workers would turn down.
Vail Resorts’ employment Web site, skijobs1.com, states that “unpredictable economic conditions in the U.S. may require Vail Resorts to re-evaluate our need for international staff from season to season.”
Last season, that meant the seasonal worker visa mess that prevented many international workers from coming to Vail – a federal cap on the number of visas meant less people could come here to legally work seasonal jobs.
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This year the cap – 33,000 visas for the entire country for the winter season – is the same as last year. Ski companies like Vail Resorts, Intrawest and Aspen Ski Company are still using the visas, though, just less than what they’re used to.
Combine the visa cap with the economic downturn, and Vail Resorts has changed its recruiting tactics.
Ladyga said the company is hiring more domestic employees this winter season than ever before, which equates to the company expecting to hire about 70 percent less international workers. Vail Resorts is recruiting in major U.S. markets, and also is summer seasonal places like Martha’s Vineyard, she said.
“We’re recruiting (domestic employees) very aggressively,” she said.
The company is using social networking sites like Facebook.com and Twitter.com to recruit employees and market itself. It’s also using e-mail campaigns and Internet banner advertisements, Ladyga said.
The jobs the company typically has the most trouble filling are housekeeping jobs and food and beverage jobs. There are “still people out there who don’t like the seasonal nature of the positions,” Ladyga said. Those are jobs that often end up filled with international employees.
Vail Resorts plans to use a variety of visas this season for its international employees -H1, O, E3, H2B and J1, she said.
And for resort jobs where workers spend time with guests, like in the ski school, Vail Resorts likes to have a good mix of workers who can communicate with guests and relate to their needs, she said. The employees also have specific skills, like operating winch-cat machines, for example, that the company needs every year.
“These are employees who have been with us many years – they’re well integrated with the culture of our company and with our guests,” she said.