Wadey: Adapting to bigger, event-driven summer crowds in Vail (column)
July 29, 2018
Growing up on the East Coast, rainy days were a real drag — gray, wet and relentless. Sometimes it would rain for days, interrupting most summer activities. Since moving out to Colorado 20 years ago, I have learned to see rainy days in a whole new light.
Rain in the west is so completely different. It might come fast and hard, but most likely it lasts for just a short time during the day and clears up eventually. Who hasn't been on a rocky mountain ridge and been able to see a storm on its way and was able to successfully predict how much time you had to finish your hike or lunch before it hit?
This summer has been particularly tough, with dry conditions, high winds, scarce precipitation and, sadly, human error. But with the more frequent, albeit small, bouts of precipitation that we have had these last two weeks, you can audibly hear our community exhaling with some cautious relief.
I feel the same way about the summer we have been experiencing in the Vail business community. This summer economically has taken a little pressure off the business community after a somewhat flat winter season. Vail streets and storefronts have been busy throughout the week and events have been well attended and provide vibrancy to our community, which we all welcome with open arms.
Moving into August and the remaining months of summer, businesses need to capitalize on the waves of guests and visitors we are seeing by letting the anxiety go and doing what we do best: providing exceptional hospitality and guest service.
From the Vail Dance Festival to the Colorado Classic bike race and Whistle Pig concert, there are many opportunities for local businesses to entice those guests to spend extra time on their restaurant patios savoring a glass of wine or to just "pop in" that retail store to check out the item on display in the window. Learning to roll with the punches and step it up when needed dictates the rhythm of our summers, much like waiting out a quick thunderstorm before heading back out into your day.
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This summer, the Lionshead Village parking structure has been working overtime picking up the slack with some temporary loss of parking due to construction. Events such as the GoPro Mountain Games, Vail America Days and the upcoming Colorado Classic bike race interrupt ease of accessibility in our village cores for certain amount of times.
These things might seem like large interruptions to day-to-day business operations, but in reality, they are small, necessary inconveniences that can be planned around with a little foresight and planning.
The experience we are providing our guests by having these events and improving on our infrastructure have a longer lasting impact than having to wait an hour or so until roads open after an event so you can retrieve your car. Rolling with the punches, anticipating problems and adapting to them will set us apart in our service and hospitality.
So just like we want rain to keep falling for a couple hours every day, we also want to continue hosting and attracting events and activities that may cause slight inconveniences but much-needed vibrancy and reasons for our guests to visit and stay for a while.
Alison Wadey is the executive director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association. The Vail Chamber & Business Association is a business advocacy group in Vail and a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. For more information, call 970-477-0075 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.