Vail Chamber: Creating a more seamless vacation for our guests (column)
During the Fourth of July week, we experienced some fantastic entertainment and strong traffic, despite the lack of fireworks. The parade and music went on without a hitch, and people were in town parading, shopping and dining. The consistent weeklong traffic hopefully eased some of our pain points and made for some memorable visits. It seems that the word is certainly getting out that even with a fire ban in place, there are always a plethora of options in our vibrant mountain community.
From the best I can tell, the next six weeks should remain very busy; hotels are showing strong occupancy, and the heat should help to drive people to explore our mountains. We have events and concerts spread throughout the rest of the summer that will allow us the opportunity to share our casual mountain hospitality while enjoying the reasons we live in the mountains.
It is important that as ambassadors of Vail, each of us is accentuating the positives of summer visits to Vail, as opposed to the reasons not to visit. Social media is a great tool for spreading the word, but we need to make sure that the “word” we are spreading is encouraging guests to visit, and not the opposite. The same principles that we adhere to in the winter of not solely focusing on snowfall, especially when it is down, and focusing on all our other many attributes.
At the chamber, we have partnered with the Vail Institute to conduct focus groups composed of four stakeholder groups: restaurants, lodging, retail and millennials. In a nutshell, what we have confirmed is that all of our businesses (and resorts) have similar challenges and each one has a unique perspective on how best to deal with them.
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What we also know is that in order to best enjoy where we get to live and work, we need more visitors choosing Vail. Our guests do not necessarily distinguish the town; they just need to remember that they had a great experience in Vail.
To tie this all together, I assume that if you are here year-round that you and your businesses have figured out how to best serve your business and customers with your sincere form of mountain hospitality. The challenge is, how do we ingrain that same spirit into the thousands of seasonal employees each winter while we are rapidly completing projects and ramping up for ski season?
With shorter ramp-up times and tightening budgets, it is already difficult to teach the ins and outs of the job, much less the local knowledge that will allow us to truly increase our holistic service levels. In Vail, we have a very unique advantage of having an intertwined town and ski resort where, once the guests arrive, they do not need a car. We can certainly leverage this advantage by engaging our entire workforce as another valuable asset to remind people why they love our vibrant community.
As a community, we are working to help the businesses, town and resort to rapidly bring seasonal staff up to speed on our mountain and town in order to make a more seamless vacation for our guests. We want to empower our seasonal employees with the culture of mountain hospitality through programming and local knowledge that will remind people over and over why Vail should be their home resort.
Chris Cremer is director of Vail operations for Alterra Mountain Co. and general manager of Bridge Street Ski Haus, located in Vail Village. He is a Vail Chamber & Business Association board member. For more information, call 970-477-0075 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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After a sudden stop in March and extended isolation, people may be ready to travel or play. But don’t expect a full-throttle return this summer.