Vail Daily column: Season off to fantastic start | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Season off to fantastic start

Excitement is in the air — it seems we are off to a fantastic start to another ski season here in Vail! While we have all been getting through the push to finish projects while hiring and training staff, the Vail Chamber & Business Association has been busy planning ways to further support our businesses. We hosted our annual kickoff meeting at The Sebastian last Tuesday to a full house and got some fantastic updates from both Vail Resorts and the town of Vail. It looks and sounds like we have all of the components from Mother Nature, marketing, finance and operations working in harmony to continue growing our year ’round visitation and the incredible infrastructure to support this growth. If you missed this first opportunity to qualify your business for Merchant pass privileges, then read on.

Many businesses join the VCBA in order to qualify for merchant passes. Historically, this meant you had to attend a preseason merchant pass meeting. This year, we have changed it up. It is not too late for your company to become eligible for merchant passes! We have added multiple ways to qualify for this important benefit throughout the season.

Mystery Shopper Program: This program allows a business to receive real time critical feedback about the quality of their customer service. Initial set up cost is $100 plus and packages start as low as $225 for five shopper visits. The $65 registration fee will be waived. The VCBA will be running a complimentary retail shop this December for its members as part of our business recognition program. Give us a call for more details.

Vail Welcome Center/community host meeting: This meeting is great for educating managers and employees on good customer service. The meeting will be held on Thursday from 8:30 a.m. through 12:30 p.m. and will emphasize the entire Vail guest service experience from Vail Mountain to individual businesses.

Employee town tours: A two-hour walking tour guided through Vail Village and Lionshead Village with key stops such as welcome centers, pass offices, etc. This is an excellent way to familiarize your employees with our town so they can better serve our customers. Tours will be held once a week until Dec. 17 and are limited to 15 people assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

This fall, the VCBA has also been engaged in merging with the Lionshead Merchant Association. This merger will allow the continuation of active engagement in Lionshead with the additional resources of the VCBA. To further support these efforts and maintain continuity, we have added some new members to our board: Patrick Flynn, finance director at Arrabelle; Patrick Kelsey, finance director at The Antlers; Sarah Franke, Group970; and David Portman, vice president of First Bank, have joined our existing board and we welcome them as valuable and proactive member of the Vail business community.

To learn more about what we are doing on behalf of Vail businesses, come to our chamber mixer Dec. 10 at La Tour Restaurant. All of the above programs are available to VCBA members regardless of their need for a merchant pass and are being offered in order to help local business owners and managers prepare their staff for the winter season. For information regarding any of the above programming visit us at http://www.vailchamber.org. It is important to provide a seamless customer service experience for our winter guests and visitors. They don’t see the difference between the businesses on Vail Mountain or within the town, all they know is that they are visiting and enjoying Vail, we are all responsible for providing a top-notch, gracious experience. Let’s arm ourselves with the knowledge and skills so we can continue our successes through this winter season. As I write this the snow is falling, as it has for most of our opening week so far. Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy students as well as ski teams from around the world have been flying down their practice course, businesses have fully stocked shelves and shiny new window displays and our first winter visitors have already arrived and enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving holiday. We are ready, we are excited and we will deliver another successful winter season, one for the record books! Be a part of it — see you on the slopes!

Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the Vail Chamber and Business Association’s weekly 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 of level of the Vail Transportation Center, so stop by and say “hello.”

Chris Cremer is director of Vail operations–Intrawest and Bridge Street Ski Haus. He is a member of the Vail Chamber & Business Association board.