Vail Daily column: Merchant Ski Pass a great value | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Merchant Ski Pass a great value

Skiing and snowboarding are important to our sense of community, and we value outdoor recreation here in the Vail Valley. It's equally important for our staff to have the opportunity to enjoy the mountains, and the Vail Resorts Merchant Pass program provides a compelling hiring tool for local businesses due to the wide-ranging benefits for employees. Most important, unlike other pass products, the Merchant Pass ownership resides with the business versus an individual.

What is a Merchant Ski Pass?

Local businesses have the ability to purchase ski passes for employees through the Vail Resorts Merchant Pass program. Consistent with past years, Vail Resorts offers the Eagle County Merchant Pass program to Vail Valley Partnership members, offering skiing and snowboarding at both Vail and Beaver Creek (as well as our neighbors in Summit County).

Pass Details

The Merchant Ski Pass offers unlimited access to skiing and snowboarding at Vail and Beaver Creek resorts with blackout dates (2016-2017 season and blackout dates are: Nov. 25 and 26; Dec. 26 — 31; Jan. 14 and; Feb. 18 and 19). With the Merchant Pass, holders also have unrestricted access at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin ski resorts.

The Merchant Ski Pass provides a compelling hiring tool for local businesses due to the wide range of benefits for employees, and pass ownership stays with the business versus an individual, so in the event that an employee leaves, the pass may be transferred to another employee for $100. The cost of the 2016/2017 Merchant Ski Pass is $809 per pass.

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Numerous other benefits are included in the merchant ski pass program, including discounted lift tickets, discounted Adventure Ridge activities, one free ski lesson and more.

Program Qualifications

Participating businesses must participate in one of the following programs in order to qualify to get the Merchant Ski Pass:

• An Eagle County Air Alliance Contribution. The EGE Air Alliance is a 501c(6) nonprofit that provides funding to the Eagle County Regional Airport so Vail Valley businesses, residents and communities have a strong and vibrant flight service program.

Formed in 2002, the EGE Air Alliance is a public-private partnership that includes businesses of all sizes and Vail Valley community stakeholders, as well as towns and municipalities in Eagle County.

• The Platinum Service Program. This program is a secret shopper program customized by business to meet customer services goals with digital monitoring system for real-time feedback. Participating businesses must participate in a minimum of six shops.

Visits range from $50 to $100. Business can add additional visits throughout the year.

Businesses receiving an average score of 95 percent on six shops results in the business receiving a Platinum Rating for Customer Service. Business will receive promotion, certification and digital marketing material for achieving a Platinum Rating.

• Lodging Quality Assurance. Lodging members that participate in this program on an annual basis qualify to participate in the Merchant Pass Program.

• Certified Vendor. Businesses that participate in the Certified Vendor Program work with property managers, hotel properties and homeowners to make upgrades to achieve higher lodging quality ratings. Certified vendors are limited to specific industries and must attend qualifying programs. Certified vendors are included on a Certified Vendor list distributed to lodging properties and property managers on an annual basis.

• Beaver Creek Merchant Winter Update. Intended for Beaver Creek-based businesses, content will include Beaver Creek Merchant and Vail Resorts seasonal updates Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. Businesses are required to check in with the Beaver Creek Resort Company and check out with VVP to qualify.

Don't miss out on the Merchant Ski Pass for the upcoming ski season, and special thanks to Vail Resorts for its commitment to continuing the Merchant Pass program for members of our business community. Learn more at vailvalleypartnership.com/merchant -pass-program/ and http://www.vail.com/vbcmerchantpasscontact or contact Haley McNeill at 970-477-4027.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, recently named "Chamber of the Year" by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com