Vail Daily column: The customer controls the message
The holiday season is one of the best times to be in the Vail Valley — although many locals would tell you they “came for the winter, but stayed for the summer” — as the holiday season is filled with great energy and vibrancy.
While we are in the midst of the busy holiday season, and as 2014 approaches, all businesses, service employees and locals should remember that it is important to take a break from the hectic season and appreciate our destination visitors. We need to constantly remember that the customer controls the message.
What does that mean exactly? While not exactly revolutionary news, we need to be customer-centric in all our efforts, whether on the clock or off. Our interactions with our guests should not be a monologue, but rather a conversation. We’re all brand ambassadors and our mission should be to help create the very best vacation experience for our guests.
We can shout all we want about our features and benefits, about our food or our transit, our access or our events, our mountains or our pedestrian village experiences in Vail and Beaver Creek. All of these things are important, but ultimately the customer is in control. They rightfully tend to care much more about their experience than the features and benefits that we can offer.
In this era of social media and online customer reviews, our brand is often defined by our guests rather than the professional marketers — we need to recognize this and offer assistance to our guests each stop of the way. Again, the customer controls the message and our job as brand ambassadors is to create such a great guest experience that our visitors become brand ambassadors as well.
The solution to this is fairly straightforward. Our job is to simply keep customer service top of mind during this busy season. Our visitors deserve the very best. And when we give them the very best, they’ll share it and we’ll help them create memories — memories that are tied to Vail or Beaver Creek — and these memories will help create brand loyalists.
We’ve all heard various “hero stories” from Zappos.com, Amazon.com or other companies that commonly go above and beyond for their guests; these are great and inspirational, but it’s often the little things that help make memories. Take a moment to do the little things right to help make a memory and create a brand loyalist.
See a mom (or dad) taking a picture of their family? Offer to take the photo for people so their entire family can be in it.
See someone on the mountain that looks like they are struggling? Take a moment to stop and ask if they need directions or assistance.
Riding a chairlift with visitors who are wondering where to go next? Take the time to share some local tips on your favorite ski runs or the best lunch or apres location.
See someone walking through town on their phone following directions? Offer directions, or better yet, walk them to their location if you’re heading the same direction.
Riding the bus and overhear a group wondering what bus stop they need to get to their location? Let them know the options and best way to get to their destination.
The options and opportunities to help provide great service and create memories for our guests are endless. Knowing someone isn’t a prerequisite to a smile.
Vacations are family memories. Memories are created by those moments you never forget — things are just things, but memories are what make family vacations special. Help create memories by going above and beyond this holiday season.
To our visitors: Welcome, and thank you for visiting. It’s great to have you here.
To our locals: Be sure to thank our visitors. And thank them with your actions, not just your words.
Chris Romer is the president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.