Vail Valley Partnership CEO: Local businesses can use merchant passes for employee retention (column) | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Partnership CEO: Local businesses can use merchant passes for employee retention (column)

Chris Romer
Vail Valley Partnership

Eagle County's unemployment rate is around 2 percent — which leads to local businesses being increasingly focused on employee retention efforts. Many businesses — across industry, and across geography — simply don't have enough employees.

There are numerous ways to focus on employee retention: good pay, robust benefits, and a good work environment among them. One benefit shouldn't be forgotten is the Merchant Pass program.

The Merchant Pass program has been in existence for many years, providing a compelling hiring tool for local businesses due to the wide-ranging benefits for employees and, most important, unlike other pass products, the pass ownership resides with the business versus an individual and features a one-time transfer fee of $110 to accommodate employee changes.

The Merchant Pass program includes two options for the Merchant Pass: The Epic Merchant Pass and the Epic Local Merchant Pass. Both passes have expanded access from the original Merchant Pass program and offer the local community the option to ski and snowboard outside of Colorado.

The passes available through the Merchant program are owned by the business. In the event that an employee leaves, the pass must be deactivated by the business and may be transferred to another employee.

Both passes available through the Merchant program provide a number of ancillary benefits to employees. Benefit offerings include access to Vail Resorts' popular ski and snowboard application, EpicMix, six ski-with-a-friend tickets and six buddy lift tickets, summer lift access at Vail and Beaver Creek (excluding bike haul), Adventure Ridge discounts during the winter season, one free ski or snowboard group lesson at Vail or Beaver Creek, Nordic lesson discounts and more. Some restrictions apply for these benefits:

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• Epic Merchant Pass: $899 provides unlimited with restrictions at Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe and Whistler Blackcomb. There are no restrictions for Breckenridge, Keystone, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mount Brighton, Arapahoe Basin, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Crested Butte, Stevens Pass and seven days at Telluride.

• Epic Local Merchant Pass: $669 provides 10 days with restrictions at Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler Blackcomb. Unlimited with restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Stowe. There are no restrictions at Breckenridge, Keystone, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mount Brighton, Arapahoe Basin, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Crested Butte and Stevens Pass.

The biggest change this year is that the Epic Merchant now offers access to all 19 North American resorts — with unlimited access with no blackout dates at Crested Butte and seven unrestricted days at Telluride as new options. The Epic Local Merchant offers the same with the exception of Telluride. Holiday restrictions and complete details can be found at http://www.vail.com/vbcmerchant pass.

To obtain a Merchant Pass, businesses must contact their qualified association (Vail Valley Partnership or Vail Chamber & Business Association) to determine eligibility. All Merchant Pass information is distributed through the associations. Vail Merchant Pass sales begin Friday, Nov. 2, at the Lionshead Village pass office in Vail and Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Beaver Creek pass office.

For additional information about the 2018-2019 Vail Resorts Merchant Pass, call 970-754-3080, email vbc merchantpass@vailresorts.com, or go to http://www.vail.com/vbcmerchantpass. Vail Valley Partnership members can call 970-477-4027 or email anna@visitvailvalley.com.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.