Recognition program finishes 4th season |

Recognition program finishes 4th season

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Holly McGee runs up to the stage to collect the new mountain bike she won during the Vail Chamber and Business Associates incentive party at 8150 in Vail.

John Murtha’s gets to lose a little more than he planned to in Las Vegas.

Murtha is one of five grand prize winners from the recent end-of-season party for those honored by the town’s Premier Impressions program. That program just finished its fourth season.

The actual grand prize was $5,000, with the winner’s name drawn at random from the 137 Premier Impressions winners. A total of 10 names were drawn for the top prizes, which included a cruise in Mexico, a gold parking pass, a Vail Recreation District season pass, a mountain bike and a package of restaurant gift certificates. With those prizes awarded, five people were left on stage for the drawing for the top prize.

The five people still in the running for the top prize were asked if they wanted to split the cash among them, and they quickly agreed, unlike last year.

“We asked if they wanted to split the cash last year when there were five, and then as we eliminated people,” said Kaye Ferry, president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, which sponsored this year’s program.

“Even when we were down to two, they wouldn’t split it, but this year, they agreed like that,” Ferry said.

Murtha, who was honored for his work at the information desk at the Vail Village Transportation Center, said the cash was a delightful bonus. Asked how he earned his Premier Impressions award, Murtha said the people at the desk all strive to provide good customer service.

“I’m just one of many people who provide service beyond expectations,” Murtha said. “We’re the first impression for a lot of guests.”

While Murtha downplayed his accomplishments, Ferry said those who earned nominations all did more than their job descriptions require.

“We throw out the nominations that say ‘She showed up for work every day,'” Ferry said. “It has to be something out of the ordinary.”

For instance, Ben Stein, a Vail Bicycle Taxi driver, came to the aid of a woman who had been accidentally whacked in the head on Bridge Street. The woman was down and bleeding when Stein rode past with an empty cab. Although an ambulance had been summoned, Stein stopped, loaded the woman into the cab and whisked her to the Vail Valley Medical Center emergency room.

Every Premier Impressions nominee wins a $25 gift card, good at any business in Vail that belongs to the chamber and accepts the Discover card. Stein and three other monthly winners earned either a Golden Bear pendant or a gift certificate from the Golden Bear.

At the end of the season, all 137 nominees were invited to a party at the 8150 nightclub in Vail. All the nominees could bring a date and the program provided everyone in attendance with tickets for two free drinks, with food from Moe’s BBQ. And everyone had an equal shot at the big prize.

“I’ve never won anything before,” Murtha said before heading off for a spring trip to Moab and Las Vegas. “It’s going to ensure we’re going to have a good time.”

Danielle Montana has just about spent her unexpected bonus. Montana, who worked at Pazzo’s in Vail Village over the winter, said she bought a plane ticket to visit her parents and has ordered a new mountain bike. “It’s been a great experience,” Montana said. “It’s helped out a lot.”

Giving a little recognition and attention to the people who help Vail’s visitors is the real point of the Premier Impressions program, Ferry said. The program’s roots were planted by the old Vail Village Business Association several years ago. That group held several “Under 30” sessions to talk with town employees about ways to make their jobs more satisfying.

“We ended up with a long list,” Ferry said. Near the top of the list, though was the sentiment that a lot of employees didn’t feel their contributions to Vail guests’ experience were properly recognized.

From those discussions, the Premier Impressions program was started in the fall of 2000 by the Vail Chamber and Business Association, Vail Resorts and the town of Vail as part of the overall “Vail Renaissance” effort. In 2002, the program received an award for service delivery from the City-County Communications and Marketing Association.

“It’s become more successful every year,” said Ferry. “After four years, people seem to really grasp what it’s all about.”

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