Romer: Celebrate the end of the season with kindness
The recently concluded ski season was one for the books; while we did not set records for visitation or sales tax or lodging occupancy, we might have set a record for perseverance.
Looking back to the start of the season, we didn’t know what to expect or how various restrictions at the local, state, or in our key destination markets would impact our economy. Would our guests still have the confidence to travel? Would the economic and political uncertainty cause a natural decrease in demand? There were more questions than answers in November.
As we sit at the end of April, there is much to celebrate. Our lodging occupancy continued to rebound and grow throughout the season, ending with a very strong March on par with 2019. Our group business pipeline shows very strong demand for Q3 and Q4 and into 2022. Sales tax returns are better than forecast. Events are making plans to return, providing village activation and economic benefits. We didn’t have a crystal ball to forecast how things would look leading into the ski season, but only a true optimist would have predicted our current trends.
We made it through a challenging season, and we should celebrate the end of the season with kindness. Social media and societal pressures do not often celebrate kindness, but there is a path forward as a tenant of basic human decency. Kindness is an often-underrated value, and it can — and should — be a chosen path and one we should celebrate.
This isn’t a call for “Kumbaya” or for togetherness, but rather a call for everyone to express gratitude for making it through a challenging season and a call for everyone to assume good intent in others. This can manifest itself in kindness.
What benefits might you find if you are able to slow down to say hello to coworkers and those within your expanded network? How might it impact your outlook if you make a conscious effort to be considerate when dealing with others in a customer service environment?
How about trying to be more vocal in your praise to colleagues and front-line employees? Imagine kindness expressed by actually listening to listen when someone asks “how are you” rather than listening to respond. Or taking the time to pay attention when someone is stressed by a deadline or work pressures and responding with empathy and helpfulness rather than adding to their stress level.
Kindness can be expressed by writing a personal thank you note (or email) to someone who has had a positive impact. Complaining is easy but taking the time to show appreciation and highlight some positives makes a bigger long-term impact.
There is a lot to learn and a lot to build on as we work to “build back better” and reflect on the learnings from the past season. I am thankful for the new level of public-private collaboration that exists among the private sector and local government; I am thankful for the mountain operations that helped guide us through the season with no closures; I am focused on celebrating kindness as we move forward.
Despite public perception to the contrary, kindness is not a weakness. Anyone can be aggressive, and aggression often comes from insecurity and beneath insecurity lies basic fear. Kindness is a strength and negativity is a real weakness. I look forward to celebrating the end of the season with the lesson of kindness and how that simple – yet not easy – mind frame can help us rebound in meaningful ways.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at www.vailvalleypartnership.com.