Ferry: Vail Mountain chief’s guest-first legacy
Vail CO, Colorado
OK. So I’m a fan. I was. I am. I expect I always will be.
As this is my first column since Bill Jensen announced his resignation, I have to take a minute to reflect on his contribution to the community. For me personally, Bill’s departure represents a huge loss. Ever since his arrival on the Vail scene, we have worked on programs that have always had the best interest of our employees and guests as the goal.
Never has the business community had a bigger advocate and supporter. He has given tirelessly and without reservation to an endless number of projects meant to train employees, acknowledge their successes and reward them for their contributions. Additionally, he has supported our efforts to drive business and provide an atmosphere that creates an “intent to return” on the part of the guest.
Over the years, because of his leadership and constant support, the business community has learned to value his friendship and trust his instincts. We have also embraced his philosophies of putting the guest first.
But no one does it better than Bill. In my mind he is the poster child for guest service. The lengths he is willing to go in addressing the customers concerns, questions and complaints quite frankly are unparalleled in my experience with corporate America. Employees also benefit from his support of the discounted merchant ski pass, the Premier Impressions program and events like Spring Back to Vail.
Someone wrote in the other day indicating that we were overlooking the value that Chris Jarnot brings to the job. Or the experience of John Garnsey. That’s not the case. We wish them well and look forward to working with them. But as I said to Chris, you’ll just have to give us a moment to mourn the loss of a truly great leader, advocate, supporter, mentor, and friend.
And now on to a topic I’ve ignored for a long time, parking. Or better said, the lack there of.
For a variety of reasons, parking has not just been a nightmare normally relegated to weekends, but a constant source of aggravation for weeks now.
So what are the factors contributing to this torturous condition?
First, there are construction trucks filling the structures early, often using multiple spaces. Then there’s snow. Lots of it. For which we’re grateful. But it also brings out the masses, even in the middle of the week.
And of course, the Front Range ski passes. I will NOT criticize the ski company for continuing to sell this very lucrative product, rather I mention it as yet another element.
But with all of these issues taking their toll on the limited parking available, we have what could arguably be called a crisis.
Now I know there are those who view it as a blessing. All of those people flocking to our quaint, not so little anymore, resort. There are others who find it to be annoying, punitive, inconvenient and downright maddening.
For me it’s simply reality. And it’s a reality that has come from the ostrich syndrome. Stick your head in the sand and pretend it’s not there.
In thinking about it the other day, I was trying to determine just when was the last time we actually built parking in this town that has done nothing but grow at an alarming rate. In any event, it’s been a long time. Too long in fact.
But trying to stay in the world of reality, I quit writing about it several years go. It seems to be a topic of conversation that never reaches the action stage.
But I was struck by two stories on Friday alone. I had a meeting in the morning and got an earful from a girl who described her ill-fated attempt to have lunch with a friend in town last Saturday. After driving around with no success, they went to Frisco for lunch.
On Friday afternoon, a meeting that was scheduled for the village was moved to West Vail because there was no parking. Stories like this are endless.
On the same Saturday in question, I went into the office for a few hours. On my way out, I noticed all of the green parking violation envelopes on the cars. I’m told some were tickets and some were warnings. But my question is, why were there either?
Let’s think about it for a minute. We’ve clearly made the decision to take no active role in solving the parking problem, at least for now. And we haven’t put Vail Resorts’ feet to the fire either.
So here’s my question: If every legitimate, authorized, legal parking space in the town of Vail is occupied, what is the guest to do? Is it fair that they be ticketed or warned?
Or should we simply announce that the town of Vail is closed? Should we put one of those variable messaging signs out on the highway stating that Vail is full, no room left, filled to the brim? Sorry, better luck next time.
Should we tell them to go to Copper? Or Beaver Creek? Or just stay home? Or enter at your own risk under pain of ticket and or warning?
Is it the guest who is to be punished? Or should we just suck it up, knowing that we’ve allowed the problem to grow, to be unresolved, no matter where the fault lies?
If we’ve done nothing, are doing nothing, is it the guest’s fault?
I am truly interested in knowing the answer to that question. I imagine there are many guests with little green envelopes awaiting the answer too. Or worse yet, maybe they’re already ex-guests and don’t care about the answer.
Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail email@example.com. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Commentary” or search for keyword “ferry.”
Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a biweekly column for the Daily