Vail Daily column: Getting your business ready for season | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Getting your business ready for season

Lourdes Ferzacca
Vail Chamber
Lourdes Ferzacca

Is it really mid-October? It’s not even Halloween, and it’s already time for all of us to start thinking about getting our businesses prepared for this winter and ski season. A lot of our Vail Valley businesses are already bracing for a high volume of guests. (This year, people are predicting a successful holiday shopping and travel season.) Preparing for the consumer influx is an arduous process for many businesses, as it involves many steps and moving parts. It’s critical for a business to plan ahead as much in advance as possible. Here are a few ideas to get ready and that hopefully will make your season a little bit easier, a little more stress free and a lot more profitable.

• Make your website one of your priorities: Make a good impression on the visitors that are searching your website. Companies that run any portion of their business from a website need to make sure the online pages are ready for the holidays. Prior to the busy season, businesses should address any regular flaws or problems their website encounters frequently. This includes updates to online point-of-sale software and reservation systems. Even a small issue during your prime season can cost you money.

Well-marketed promotions should utilize holiday trends and keywords to attract new consumers to a business’ site. Furthermore, your website should be catered to the busy shopper. A website must be fast, be able to process transactions quickly and in a format optimized for mobile phones for the on-the-go consumer.

• Beef up social media campaigns: Similar to preparing a company’s website, social media pages or blogs should also be updated and altered to reflect the season. This time period is prime for additional marketing and advertising on these platforms. Remember to tie that same messaging into your company Facebook page and tweets. It’s crucial to be informative concerning what plans your business has, as well as updating contact, location information, new products, promotions and events. Photos of the business or products are key and should portray the lifestyle brand of your business. Databases are also very important to keep up to date and should divide customers based on factors such as the demographics of where are your customers coming from, and purchase history to better target consumers and increase sales.

• Utilize loyalty programs: Customers want to see promotions and discounts around the holidays. Be creative! Businesses do not have to give the house away but should be creative with promotions and offers that will attract guests, but by that I don’t mean coupons or discounts during your busy season. Easy access and navigation to your offers and business as well as great customer service will help retain loyal customers. Businesses should personalize their client lists to send direct mail, personalized emails and invites to customer-appreciation events. Receiving individualized offers prior to the holidays will encourage loyal clients to continue shopping throughout the season.

• Employee training and preparation for the months ahead: For most of our businesses in the Vail Valley typically the winter season is the most profitable time of the year, we need to acknowledge the strain that the demands of the season puts on our staff for the months ahead. Creating schedules in advance with particular days they may want off always helps. Clear expectations, encouraging open communication and giving them knowledge on how to get their ski pass. If it’s a new employee to your business or new to the valley, then encourage them to take a guided tour of the village with the Vail Chamber & Business Association, because knowledge is power!

Burnout is a major risk during the busy season, however planning ahead can keep staff members productive and content when you and your customers need them most. Get employees ready, get your books in order, utilize social media campaigns, update your website information, software and loyal shopper campaigns. Learn what events are going on around you and collaborate with other local businesses. And most importantly, don’t forget training, training and more training.

You can get a lot of this information for free and supplement your employees’ customer service training if you are a member of your local Vail Chamber & Business Association. We are all in this together, let’s make this winter season the best yet!

Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the Vail Chamber & Business Association’s weekly e-newsletter, then email us at info@vailchamber.org to start receiving it.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber & Business Association and what we have to offer to businesses in and that do business in Vail, then call 970-477-0075 or email info@vailchamber.org. Based in Vail Village, our office is located on the top level of the Vail Transportation Center, so stop by and say “hello.”

Lourdes Ferzacca is the owner of La Tour Restaurant in Vail with her husband Paul. She is the board president of the Vail Chamber & Business Association.