Vail Daily column: Time flies when you’re having fun
I’m not much one for reflection. I typically don’t find a lot of value in looking back at the past. I’d rather look ahead at the things I can control to impact the future.
That said, every once in a while I do find time for reflection. I am fortunate to have recently celebrated my ninth work anniversary at Vail Valley Partnership. In that time, we’ve seen major macroeconomic changes —a global recession — and numerous local changes — Epic Passes, Epic Discovery and too many new businesses and development projects to list.
Closer to home, Vail Valley Partnership, as it exists today, isn’t the same organization that it was nine years ago. In that time, we’ve grown into the organization that our leaders envisioned when they rebranded Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau to Vail Valley Partnership in early 2007. That growth hasn’t always been easy, but it has been done with consistent focus on doing what is best for our members and has resulted in the establishment of meaningful benefits and programs, adding value to membership and our stakeholders.
Consider our 2015 and 2016 nominations as Chamber of the Year. The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives annually recognizes chambers of commerce in various size categories for their work leading businesses and communities with the Chamber of the Year award. The award recognizes excellence in operations, member services and community leadership.
Chambers compete based on a variety of factors; the program is designed to provide a comprehensive view of a chamber’s success, and chambers from around the nation are evaluated on their financial and membership performance, as well as their communication and community programs. It’s unlikely we would have been nominated nine years ago, or even five years ago. Back-to-back recognition as a “best of” finalist provides a proof point of our benefits, services and programming to meet community needs.
Building and executing meaningful community programs remains a strength of Vail Valley Partnership. We exist to serve you through three initiatives — destination sales and marketing, chamber of commerce programming and economic development and advocacy efforts.
In the past nine years, we have added a variety of new programs, including our economic development programming. We have increased our regional collaboration with other chamber and business associations throughout the valley, changing the culture of competition to one of cooperation through the Vail Valley Merchant Alliance. We’ve partnered with the EGE Air Alliance to help increase public and private participation to increase air service to the Eagle County Regional Airport in an attempt to mitigate the loss of available seats from key destination markets in both summer and winter.
We have continued our destination group sales effort and other tourism programming. Our group sales team was able to drive more than $40 million in economic impact in 2015, and our lead generation and room nights booked are up 30 percent for 2016. We continue to operate VailonSale.com, offering an alternate booking channel and focusing on driving incremental business to our lodging properties, and our Lodging Quality Assurance program, providing a standard rating system for all rental units in the valley.
Importantly, all the positive change at Vail Valley Partnership in the past nine years could not happen without a dedicated staff. Thank you to the past and current staff that has worked with me over the past nine years. No organization can succeed and grow without a team of dedicated professionals aligned with the mission, and who work hard to provide high levels of service to our members. Our team makes it happen on a daily basis, continually focused on the needs of our members.
None of this would be possible without our members, and we are happy to count more than 800 businesses as members of the Partnership; thank you to our supporters in the business community.
Nonprofit organizations, such as Vail Valley Partnership, rely on volunteer leaders and can’t be successful without a dedicated board of governors. Thank our past and current board members. These volunteers provide governance, fiduciary responsibility and strategic vision to the organization. Our board members are committed to seeing the organization succeed. They volunteer their time and expertise to help achieve our mission to lead collaboration for community success.
The changes through the past nine years within Vail Valley Partnership are significant. What hasn’t changed is our continued focus on our members, and the dedication of our team and our board. Moving forward, we’ll continue to lead collaborative efforts through intentional, value-oriented programs and benefits. And with a bit of luck, we’ll be fortunate enough to win the Chamber of the Year later this year.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.
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