Resorts face housing shortages and visa complications when hiring for ski season

A skier takes on powder tree skiing at Vail. (Snow Snow/Flickr)
A skier takes on powder tree skiing at Vail. (Snow Snow/Flickr)

Colorado resorts are staffing up for the winter sports season, but housing shortages and visa complications have necessitated creative means to recruit a new demographic of seasonal employees.

Aspen Skiing and Vail Resorts require about 12,500 employees to staff their five total resorts during ski season. Staff housing has always been in high demand, and due to new platforms like VRBO and AirBnb, stocks of privately-owned homes, traditionally made available by owner for seasonal rental, have plummeted significantly, the Denver Post reported.

This year’s short stock of employee-friendly housing is impacting hiring.

“If we had housing, we would be all hired right now,” Jim Laing, vice president of human resources at Aspen, told the Post.

Aspen Skiing just staffed a new position dedicated to employee housing. The company makes a great deal of effort to subsidize housing, offering 600 low-cost beds in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Vail just put $30 million toward employee housing, part of an effort that includes a recent deal with Gorman & Co. to build 200 affordable units in Summit County, the Denver Post reported.

Visa complications, too, have forced resorts to amp up marketing to lure young and mostly American employees to seasonal positions.

Australian, New Zealander and South American workers once filled many seasonal positions, but the process of acquiring temporary visas is complicated and often drawn out.

“The last time we applied for H2B visas, we didn’t get approval until after the holidays,” Laing of Apsen told the Post. “That doesn’t work for us.”

To target millennial American workers, Vail Resorts has spent the past year and a half ramping up its employee branding, Dave Reed, the vice president of talent acquisition at Vail told the Post.

The “Reach Your Peak at Vail Resorts” campaign markets jobs as lifestyles and opportunities for future advancement. It has a heavy emphasis on multimedia components.

Powdr Corp., which owns Copper Mountain and Eldora, has been using social media to target younger employees.

 

With the combination of creative marketing and increased housing subsidies, resorts hope to combat new challenges of modern ski season.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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