Vail Chamber & Business Association’s new ambassador program has begun
As I reflect on the past six months of work done by the Vail Chamber & Business Association and various other community organizations I’ve interacted with over that time, I’m excited for what lies ahead going into one of Vail’s busiest weeks of the year.
The Chamber’s efforts have gotten the Mountain Hospitality Ambassador Program off the ground with participants from businesses throughout the community attending town familiarization tours. Many local businesses have committed to offering discounts to program participants for being a part of these efforts. Plans are underway for a mid-season event for participating hospitality professionals and businesses to celebrate the beginnings of what will hopefully become a flourishing communitywide service program that strives to engage and reward individuals and businesses across the town and resort for their commitment to gain local knowledge and offer premiere customer service throughout Vail.
Vail Mountain’s brand evolution work was rolled out at assorted community meetings throughout the ramp-up to winter 2018/2019, including the chamber’s winter kickoff event, Vail Lodging Community Roundtable and other local business leader gatherings. This sharing sought to engage stakeholders in the common purpose of making Vail “the world’s premier mountain resort.” At the heart of this strategic imperative is delivering a superior, seamless experience for every guest.
A focus on interaction
Epic Service training was rolled out by the mountain leadership group at the Vail Mountain kick off event that took place in November. Core to this training was the idea of building emotional connections with our visitors at every phase of their journey. Through this process, Vail Resorts team members were guided to seek opportunities to create memorable moments that culminate in an experience of a lifetime for our employees and guests.
Within the Vail Resorts hospitality division over the past year, we’ve been revamping our service training to focus on helping our team members understand how each interaction with our co-workers and guests creates an opportunity to impact the way we make others feel. I participated in a steering committee of general managers from across the company who gathered last spring to build out a new training platform to be rolled out ahead of the ski season. As we approached the start of the winter season, I personally led several four-hour service training sessions attended by our team members with the goal of putting each and every one of our 300-plus person staff at The Arrabelle at Vail Square through this training. During these sessions we engaged in discussions and activities aimed at fostering an understanding of our service philosophy and creating a “culture of absolutely,” promoting an environment that leaves every Arrabelle employee and guest feeling welcome, important, comfortable and relaxed.
Preparation pays off
Our business and community leaders have put in the work individually and collectively to curate employee and guest experiences that exceed expectations during this critical holiday week and throughout the season. Now is when all of the hard work comes together in concert to build engagement with our teams and our guests. While we operate within a competitive landscape locally, each striving to employ the best teams and win guests who will return and recommend our individual businesses, our collective work ensures seasonal staff turn into year-round workers and visitors choose this destination over competing resorts. I believe our single greatest tool for building loyalty with our teams and our guests is ensuring the integrity of the collective Vail experience.
In the ramp-up to the season, I had two experiences at businesses within the community that compelled me to reach out to fellow business leaders to offer constructive feedback on the service being delivered by members of their team. Providing that feedback was a little uncomfortable, but I felt it was important to speak up in both cases knowing that if a similar situation were to take place where I work, I’d want to know. In an environment where accountability for the greater Vail experience is something everyone in the community must commit to, being willing to deliver and receive feedback (both positive and constructive), assuming positive intent and having an open mind to the thoughts of our peers within the community are all musts. I was pleasantly surprised in both cases in which I spoke up to how open and grateful the response was for my opinion from the business leader on the other end of the line. I hope that my own reaction in a similar situation will be the same when I’m provided with a similar opportunity to raise the bar.
With stellar conditions on the mountain for the holiday week and our first post-Christmas guests arriving as I finish this article, the week ahead is shaping up to be an incredible opportunity for us to showcase Vail at its very best to visitors who choose us for perhaps the most competitive week in travel. It’s been great to see the cooperation across community organization in 2018 to build on Vail’s legacy of world class service. I look forward to seeing what we can all accomplish in 2019 with the momentum we’ve built. Happy new year.
Zachary Meyers is the general manager of The Arrabelle at Vail Square.