Town of Vail to keep info center operator
July 18, 2013
What do they do?
The information centers at the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures provide visitors with answers to questions ranging from the location of the restrooms to last-minute lodging reservations. The centers also coordinate the question-answering volunteers in Vail Village and Lionshead.
VAIL — The Vail Town Council chambers usually fill up for big issues such as conference centers and changes to the golf course. Tuesday's full house was prompted by a contract to operate the town's information centers in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures.
The centers have been operated for the past eight years by Vail Information Inc., run by Bobby Bank. Bank's most recent contract is set to expire in September, and town officials last year issued a request for proposals from other potential operators. The stated goal was to improve customer service at the centers and in the resort villages.
The town formed a committee made up of town business owners and managers to make a recommendation to the town council.
Out of six applicants, the committee ultimately recommended Callosum Creative of Vail, a self-described "consultancy model."
But Bank rallied other business owners and ultimately submitted more than 100 letters — some of them hand-written — urging the council to keep the current information center operators.
Most of those who addressed the council also supported Bank and his operation.
"Bobby has done an excellent job the last eight years," town resident Stephen Connolly said, adding that Bank has widespread support from business owners. "You'll be hard-pressed to find an area of town with fewer complaints."
Connolly recalled how Bank won the information center bid in the first place, ultimately prevailing over the town's two chambers of commerce, which at the time were highly competitive with each other.
Connolly then urged the council to go on Bank's track record, saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
That theme was echoed numerous times during the hearing, by both residents and council members.
But Callosum had its supporters, too.
"It's appropriate to examine how we can grow further," valley business owner Kirsten Texler said. "Sometimes that requires a different perspective."
Callosum's supporters on the council also argued for another company to improve the services that are now being provided.
"We challenged our staff to make sure everything we do we're doing the best we can," council member Ludwig Kurz said, adding that he believed the group that picked Callosum did a thorough, fair job in making a recommendation. Council member Susie Tjossem agreed with Kurz, as did mayor Andy Daly.
Other council members were in an "it ain't broke" frame of mind.
"From the beginning, I wasn't sure why were engaged in this process," council member Margaret Rogers said. "I was told the reason we're doing this is because we can do better. Well, we can always do better." With the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships looming, Rogers said the town couldn't afford to start with another company if the deal with Callosum didn't work out.
The council ultimately voted 4-3 not to accept the recommendation, with Rogers and council members Kerry Donovan, Greg Moffet and Kevin Foley siding the Bank. The same four, plus Daly, voted to negotiate a new contract with Bank.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.