Local airport employee wins state tourism award
Chip Tallon is nominated as a 2022 Top Frontline Tourism Worker for his efforts at the Eagle County Regional Airport
Last week, Eagle County resident Chip Tallon was nominated as one of the Top Frontline Tourism Workers of the year by the Colorado tourism industry for his work as a curbside attendant at the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Each year, the state tourism office nominates tourism employees who “do an outstanding job of welcoming visitors to our state and providing them with the best experiences possible.” Tallon, who has lived in the valley since 1979 and has worked at the airport since 2008, was selected as one of eight nominees for his exceptional customer service toward passengers arriving and departing from Eagle County.
Tallon had a successful 29-year construction management career in the valley until the Great Recession hit in 2008. That year, he began working at the Eagle County airport during the winter and the Cordillera Golf Club in Edwards during the summer, where he now works as a starter.
“I’m one of the first people the members and guests see when they come to the club, and at the airport it’s the same thing,” Tallon said. “I’m either the first or last person they see before they get on a plane or come off a plane, so creating memorable experiences has just been part of the code that I live by in both jobs.”
Jodi Doney, the terminal operations manager at the airport, nominated Tallon for the award after witnessing a particularly memorable experience that he created for a customer this past winter. When Doney walked out to the curb, she saw Tallon leading a dance kick line with three other employees for a passenger who had just arrived to visit her sick mother.
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Tallon said that the passenger had been coming to visit her mother each month since January, and that every time she arrived they would dance for the mother as she clapped and smiled from the car. When Tallon saw the daughter arrive again in March, he pulled a group of his coworkers together to form a kick line for the passenger and her mother.
“It was a great feeling to see the happiness on both of their faces,” Tallon said.
Doney said that this was just one shining example of Tallon going above and beyond to serve airport customers, and she used the story as the basis for his nomination.
“I wish I could have nominated my entire team, because they’re all awesome, but Chip has been with us the longest, his dedication and his efforts need to be recognized,” Doney said. “We’re just so grateful to have him on the team and to be leading our curbside team. We pride ourselves on our hospitality overall, it sets us apart from other destinations and it’s what brings our visitors back each year, and Chip is just the champion of that.”
Tallon said he was surprised to receive the nomination, and never expected to be awarded for his customer service.
“I’m glad it was recognized, but it’s kind of embarrassing to win an award for being kind,” Tallon said.
Though Tallon is humble about his contributions, his efforts have had a marked impact on ensuring that people traveling to Eagle County have a great experience, reflecting positively on our county and on tourism in Colorado as a whole.
“The high point for me in the day is when a passenger, or a family of passengers, tells me how nice people are in the valley and how nice people have been to them,” Tallon said. “They say things like, ‘This isn’t Chicago — if this were Chicago you’d be telling us to move along, hurry up, get out of here or you’re going to get arrested.’ I tell them no, this is happy valley, so come back! I try to get them to leave with a smile and a lot of memories.”