Vail Valley Partnership boss gives staff a big helping of ‘thank-you’ | VailDaily.com
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Vail Valley Partnership boss gives staff a big helping of ‘thank-you’

Michael Kurz
Vail, CO, Colorado

My associates probably won’t like what I’m writing here. They very rarely accept my thanks without looking embarrassed. But before we launch into what I sincerely believe will be a very busy winter season, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge:

• Chris Romer, director of sales and marketing, for rebuilding our group and leisure sales department. Under Chris’ leadership, group production for 2009 will nearly match 2008, an impressive feat given what’s happened in the industry this year. Production for 2010 is already more than double that.

Because of Chris’ Internet marketing savvy, our online leisure sales are at a record level this year. Our lodging partners really appreciate Chris’ savvy, dedication and willingness to go the extra mile. Well done, sir.

• Christine Laabs, director of finance, is one of those quiet pros who thrive on problem solving and this year, we’ve chucked a bucket of issues at her. As anyone who’s been involved in nonprofit financial management knows, there are so many nuances involved in cash management, forecasting and reporting it can befuddle even the best. Christine has revamped accounting systems, bolted down processes and simplified to the point that on any given day, we know where we stand and where we need to go. Thanks, Christine.

• Kristina Johnson, marketing manager, defines the word “multitask.” She blogs, tweets and e-mails every bit of topical, timely info she gets from our members, manages half a dozen Web sites, markets our events, creates our promotional materials, directs our vendors and manages production schedules. K.J., you’re a star.

• Between the time Danielle McNair, group sales manager (and new mom), spends bolted to her telephone headset, meeting with local sales teams and on the road with meeting planners, I don’t get to see her much. But she’s always upbeat, enthusiastic and, despite the gentle Georgia drawl that hints at a laid-back style, she’s as intense in closing a deal as she is when she competes in a triathlon. Great job!

• To most of our chamber members, Suzanne Sloan, member services manager, is the face of the Vail Valley Partnership and I’m very proud to have her represent us. She’s tireless in her support of our members and their businesses and in spreading the gospel of the Partnership. She is thoroughly immersed in building and maintaining relationships between the Partnership and the community. We wouldn’t be our best without her dedication.

• What can I say about Kathy Lichtenheld, lodging quality assurance inspector, a lady who has been in nearly every resort-marketed accommodation in the valley? She’s focused, precise, steadfast and wonderful with clients. She’s got a great, positive outlook and, in league with part-time inspector Heather Davis, educates owners every day about how to maximize revenue from their properties. Great work this year, both of you.

• Ruthie Carlson, event coordinator, defiantly proves you don’t need gray hair to be a consummate professional. In just her second year with the Partnership, Ruthie has organized and presented more than two dozen events, from our Ask the Expert panels to the 2009 Success Awards Gala and this year’s Business Forum, all without a hitch and to the delight of our members. Ruthie, you truly are spectacular!

• Finally, hats off to our wonderful guest services managers, Shelida Rodrigues, Jason Browning and Cameron Lowe. They’re bright, knowledgeable, resourceful and committed to giving our guests the information they need to make the most of their visits to the valley. On hundreds of phone calls each week, they are truly the voice of the destination. I admire your abilities and your people skills. You are the best brand missionaries we could have.

Thank you, team. I sincerely hope more and more people in the valley have a chance to meet you and work with you. For me, it’s a pleasure every day.

Michael Kurz is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.


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