Make a Vail visitor’s vacation memorable |

Make a Vail visitor’s vacation memorable

Michael Kurz, CEO/President
Vail Valley Partnership
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –You know, for the past couple of years, I’ve taken this particular week’s column to encourage everyone in the Vail Valley who’s in contact with our visitors to pour it on, bear down, muster the energy, buck up and all that, in an effort to keep our service quality up at the end of a long season.

It’s a well-motivated and, in some cases, effective method to re-energize us all for the stretch run to season end. It’s an important message, too, because even though our current guests are hitting the slopes when our energy and enthusiasm may be waning, we know these folks still deserve the best we have to offer, frayed around the edges as we may be.

I know it’s tough to go the extra mile when you’re dreaming of boat drinks, surfboards, scuba gear and fins. Hey, I can hear the surf hitting the sand too and I have a brand new Speedo already packed. (Kidding. Me in a Speedo is illegal on six continents, and the seventh is made of ice.)

So, this year, instead of the usual cajoling and brand missionary message penned here, I thought I’d keep it simple. Here’s the challenge. I want everyone who reads this column, and I know there are at least six of you because you regularly communicate your comments about the content of this weekly missive, to do something that will make an immediate impact.

From now until the mountain closes, every day, I want each of you to do one thing extra nice for a visitor. You know what you can do. It doesn’t matter if it’s asking a guest on the street if they need directions or a dining or lodging recommendation or hints about shopping for that perfect piece of jewelry or the just the right fleece hoodie. Just take a moment and do your best to give someone a look at what visiting the Vail Valley is really all about.

You may get a lot of, “We live here, thanks,” or “No, we’re good,” or even a cool response in a language you don’t understand, but I’m thinking you’ll get just as many, “Thank yous.”

It’s kind of rankled me that Vail was pushed down in the national ratings this year and this is one way you can fight back – personally. You know that (just like when you have to pack up your snorkel and head back to the high country) you’re going to feel a little remorse about the end of the trip you’ve been anticipating for months.

Well our guests are going to miss this place, too. Maybe, if we really get clever about helping them push the fun meter off the dial, they’ll really miss us, individually, as well.

It seems when I look back on my best vacations, there’s always one or two people on those trips that I will never forget. One of my unforgettable personal experiences here was just a few years ago.

In full-goofy-powder-playing-hooky-with-my-friends mode, I put my cell phone in an unzipped pocket. At the top of Chair 11 it gained its freedom and when I cruised up to the ski rack at Los Amigos to start apres, I groped into an empty pocket. No way to call my mates and rally them to the party.

All the phone numbers in my directory – gone. Need a new phone – now. But, not to worry. When I got back to the office later that day, there was a message for me.

“Hi, this is Jeff. I’m staying at the Lodge Tower. I’m leaving for New York today, but I found your phone and this number and I’m leaving it at the front desk for you. Have a great day.”

Wow. A guest did this for me? So, I thought from that day on that if I can return the favor, I will.

I’m sure you all have your stories of people that did little things that turned out to be really big. So, ladies and gents, jump in. Take a moment to make a memory. We may not be No. 1 in SKI Magazine next year, but you’ll be No. 1 for someone who’s very important to all of us. One guest at a time. One kindness at a time. That’s how it’s done.

Michael Kurz is the outgoing president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.

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