Vail Valley: The myth of the ‘off-season’
Another ski season is in our collective rear-view mirrors, and another summer season is looking right at us (and there are plenty of reasons for optimism this upcoming summer). Which leaves us – where, exactly?
Insert your favorite term – Off-season. Mud season. Shoulder season. What do these (and similar terms) have in common? They are all the wrong answer. At the risk of blasphemy, these are all terms that should be removed from the local vernacular.
Dictionary.com defines “off-season” as “a time of the year when the usual activity or business is reduced or not carried on.”
While business is certainly reduced this time of year, by no stretch is business “not carried on.” Businesses are planning ahead to the summer (or even next ski season), training staff and evaluating what worked and what didn’t work in an effort to be more efficient and maximize exposure for your business through all marketing and communications channels.
So let’s change our traditional way of thinking and view this the time of year between the ski resorts closing and the kick-off of the summer season as “Value Season”. Value for the guests. Value for the locals. And the value (and opportunity) for businesses that are busy planning ahead and ensuring they are maximizing their efforts.
As an example, put yourself in the guest’s shoes. Keep in mind that not all guests are able to visit during the peak seasons, but Vail and Beaver Creek are very accessible during the Value Season. As a destination, we owe it to the guests to continue to provide great customer service and also provide such a great experience that they leave with wonderful memories.
As a second example, put yourself in a local’s shoes. Not all locals are able to shop or dine out on a regular basis during the peak seasons, but our world-class restaurants and activities are very accessible during the Value Season. As a community, we owe it to the locals to continue to provide incentives to come into town and provide a great experience that they can tell their guests and family about.
I recently challenged locals to be “all about the guest” and to realize that the guest experience is truly one experience from the time they get off the plane (or out of the car) to the time they get back on the plane (or car). This holds true during the Value Season as well – maybe more so given the natural inclination to relax a bit given the lesser volume of the season.
There is also an opportunity for businesses to get creative to drive traffic to your storefront during the Value Season. Host a special locals event. Host a tasting. Invite locals to your business by having them experience your service while you train your new staff (maybe in exchange for asking them to blog, Facebook or Tweet their feedback to their social networks). It doesn’t much matter what it is – brainstorm as a team and see what great ideas might pop up to help create some buzz and drive traffic to your business during the Value Season.
I’d be willing to bet it pays off during the peak season due to the positive word of mouth and loyalty you create during the Value Season.
Chris Romer is the director of the Vail Valley Partnership.