Building brand loyalty valleywide
With both Beaver Creek and Vail Mountain just days away from the season opener, the vision of operating ski lifts and the herd of groomers below will immediately summon a flock of visitors to our pristine area. Big powder means big business. Ski season is here, and our two mountains are prime assets to the valley, attracting visitors from across the globe.
While the mountain may be the initial attraction, it is the strength of the Vail and Beaver Creek brand that keeps loyal guests coming back and gets the word out to newcomers that Vail and Beaver Creek are destinations not to be missed. To some local skiers and snowboarders who love the mountain for the pure sport it offers, the mountain as a “brand” may sound objectifying. Yet the Vail and Beaver Creek brand are meaningful. They stand for quality, and it is this reason we lure so many guests year after year. It is not just the mountain; it is the experience.
The “experience” is created by all those who work in the Vail Valley. Regardless of location industry, size or location, there exists a need in the valley for professional programs and services that educate and remind the business community of the rigorous brand standards that halo the valley. Now enter the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau.
To kick off the 2006-07 season and remind us all of the importance of following through on customer excellence, the VVCTB will welcome international speaker and bestselling author Robert Spector to the Vilar Center on Wednesday. Spector is author of “The Nordstrom Way,” which breaks down the Nordstrom philosophy of customer service and details how the Nordstrom management approach can be applied to virtually every type of organization. We encourage the entire business community to attend and invite employees, colleagues and partners. An interactive audience discussion will follow Spector’s keynote; this is your chance to ask an expert about trends emerging in retail management, what the 2007 consumer looks like and where growth opportunities in today’s retail market exist.
In addition to special programs like the Spector event that cheerlead customer excellence, the VVCTB’s Quality Assurance Department helps the valley maintain its brand standards through two programs. The Platinum Service Program (PSP) encourages merchants (retail, restaurants and professional services and activities) to achieve higher levels of customer service through eight on-site evaluations designed to measure and enhance customer satisfaction. Evaluations judge performance on core customer-service principles such as customer attentiveness, friendliness and product/service knowledge. The program has proven so valuable that Vail Resorts announced this season that in its dedication to customer-experience advancement, PSP participants are eligible to fulfill their Merchant Pass requirements.
Our second program, Lodging Quality Assurance, rates property units to equal Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze or Substandard. A Diamond rating also exists for Beaver Creek properties. This valleywide standardized rating system is the first communitywide initiative of its kind in the nation. The VVCTB staff inspects each unit; the program assures guests know what level of property they are booking before they arrive on location. By the end of 2006, more than 7,400 inspections will be completed since the program’s inception in 1997. The PSP and LQA programs help maintain the Vail Valley’s presence as a world-class resort.
And, to support the future of customer service, the VVCTB has embarked on a partnership with CenturyTel to support its provision of Wi-Fi throughout Vail Village.
This benefit will not only benefit travelers looking to spend more time on the slopes, but may also allow families to extend their vacations per the ease of staying connected to the office.
As I’ve stated previously, research now supports that the “luxury market” is defined by
customer service. Thanks in small part to the VVCTB’s programs; and in large part to the dedication and commitment of our business community to embrace service as a guiding philosophy of the Vail Valley experience” this destination is the pinnacle of luxury as we head into what is already anticipated to be a successful ski season.
Michael Robinson is president/CEO of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau. Reach him at 476-1000.