SkiButler of Avon: Bringing rental gear to your door
Vail, CO, Colorado
AVON ” When airlines started charging extra fees for virtually everything last summer, Bryn Carey smiled.
Carey owns Ski Butlers, an on-line equipment rental company with offices in Avon, Aspen, Telluride, Summit County, Jackson Hole, Tahoe and Whistler. Home base is in Park City.
“The ski business may be down this year,” Carey said. “So rental shops may be the only ones who are excited.”
Carey said a lot of ski resort guests want to check out new gear these days, and rental shops are happy to provide that chance.
But while most rental shops have storefronts ” and most of those are at least near the slopes ” SkiButler works a different part of the market. The company books rentals via either the Internet or by phone, then delivers gear directly to hotel rooms and condos.
Some of the traditional rental shops have started that service, too. But Carey, of course, believes he has an edge because the to-your-door service is all SkiButler does.
Carey, who grew up in the ski business ” his father for many years was the marketing manager for the American Skiing Company ” said he’d long believed there was a demand for a different kind of gear rental business.
He started the Park City SkiButler location about five years ago. This is the company’s fourth season in Vail.
In what may be an indication of the way travelers feel about airline fees, Carey said his reservations are up
While SkiButler doesn’t have a storefront, the company stores gear in warehouses. The Avon location is chock-full of new-model skis, boots and boards, which are then delivered to clients with one of the company’s three vans in the valley.
To do that, Carey ” who lives in Park City and travels often to his company’s locations ” has three vans based at his warehouse space in Avon. Those vans are generally packed with gear, so there are at least a couple of boot size and style options for a customer.
Employees can also recommend gear for clients via phone or e-mail.
“Most people ask for recommendations,” Carey said. “And if the gear doesn’t work, we can meet a customer at the base of the mountain to work on something different.”
While airline ticket prices have gone down in the last several weeks, the fees they imposed are still there.
“That trend’s in our favor,” Carey said. “People don’t want to check their gear when they fly out here.”
But, he added, the secret to SkiButler’s future will be repeat customers. That’s encouraging, too, he said.
“Our customer retention is awesome,” he said. “We’ve found a way to make (equipment rental) convenient for people, and are prices are real competitive.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.