Vail Mountain execs, Vail Town Council discuss collaboration, define ‘mountain hospitality’ | VailDaily.com

Vail Mountain execs, Vail Town Council discuss collaboration, define ‘mountain hospitality’

As part of the bigger picture, town officials and Vail Mountain executives want to collaborate with all businesses and organizations operating in the town to provide a unified approach. A meeting Monday, Aug. 27, was the start of the effort.

After a four-hour retreat one year in the making, a meeting of the minds Monday, Aug. 27, between members of the Vail Town Council and Vail Mountain executives ended with optimism for the future of Vail and a plan focused on collaboration.

Topics varied in the Grand View Room in Lionshead Village, but the common thread was a collaborative effort to provide the best experience to people who visit Vail any time of the year and taking care of the businesses and employees that work here.

In a spin on Southern hospitality, leaders of Vail are striving to create a community culture of "mountain hospitality" by working with all sectors of the town and all businesses, from sustainability organizations to restaurants and store owners, as well as resort employees, art gallery owners and nonprofits.

"If we can execute, this could be the biggest competitive advantage by bringing it all together," said Phil Metz, Vail Mountain senior director of marketing. "Ultimately, we have different views but focus on similar goals."

Metz was joined by Vail Mountain chief operating officer Doug Lovell, and the meeting also featured discussions with Mia Vlaar, the economic director for the town of Vail; Alison Wadey, executive director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association; and Beth Slifer, community leader; as well as Vail Mayor Dave Chapin and other council members.

Metz went down the line and pointed out how the majority of the town's goals and initiatives in its community plan are the same as Vail Mountain's three-year plan; some even having identical wording.

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"I think the importance of this meeting is you finally had it," Slifer said.

HOW IT ENDED

With such a large group gathered Monday, the consensus from the meeting was to separate into smaller groups that can focus on certain aspects of the community, prioritize action items and then return to the larger group with an update.

The plan is to work on forming those groups within the next 30 days and then meet as a larger group with more focused agendas three times a year.

The biggest items presented Monday focused on community collaboration between the town, resort and businesses; the Vail experience; and continuing to build legacy, tradition and sustainability.

It was clear that it's going to take a village, or two, to achieve the collaborative goals desired.

Vail Town Councilmember Greg Moffet said some businesses in Vail are wary of working with Vail Mountain, but Metz said "ourselves being here shows we want to be involved in collaboration."

"We're all saying the same thing," Councilmember Travis Coggin said. "We need to find out where we're missing the mark."

DISCUSSION NOTES

On Monday, conversations touched on taking care of all employees in Vail, noting that it's hard to provide a world-class experience with frustrations of housing, multiple jobs and other stresses of living in the valley.

"How do we make employees feel cared for?" asked Councilmember Kim Langmaid.

Langmaid also said the group needs to "think outside the box" when it comes to guest experiences and find things "not reliant on weather."

Which leads to Thanksgiving, a time when everyone agreed a collaborative effort is needed, with or without snow. Still a busy time for many business people, Vail Town Councilmember Jenn Mason suggested possibly targeting 20- to 30-year-olds during that time period.

Another point of interest was Smile School, an education tool for employees to help better understand how to engage with visitors, and also a revamped employee service program that would provide a worthwhile career experience unique to Vail.

"It all comes back to if the employees are having a good experience," Langmaid said of providing top-notch hospitality as a town.

Slifer brought up a concern about facilities, which Lovell said are at the "top of the priority list" for the mountain. A civic center was also discussed.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Get involved

The town of Vail and Vail Mountain executives are thinking big picture when it comes to collaboration, but the two groups want every business to have a seat at the table. For more information and ways to get your business involved, email Alison Wadey, executive director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association, at alisonw@vailchamber.org.