Vail Daily column: Familiar excitement for winter in the air | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Familiar excitement for winter in the air

What an awesome time of year is upon us. Each year, I get to write a quick piece around this time and it is always great to feel the excitement in the air. All of the final preparations and anticipation for the upcoming ski season are coming to fruition and we get to start seeing traction from marketing strategies developed last year while we get to fine tune and develop ideas for the upcoming year. Despite the distractions from the election and the warm weather, the town's lodging bookings are encouraging.

The Vail Chamber & Business Association has just completed another busy year. One of the highlights was merging with the Lionshead Merchant Association and financially supporting events in Lionshead Village, such as Vail Jazz, Bluegrass and the activation of incorporating the GoPro Mountain Games into all of Vail. We changed our fiscal year from the calendar year to Nov. 1 through Oct. 31, in order to better align with the needs of our membership and start out with one of our signature events: our annual winter kickoff and Merchant Pass meetings. We would like to thank Vail Resorts for continuing to support this program as it is a valuable resource for our membership to remain competitive with seasonal staffing needs. After all, we are here to ski!

Last week's annual winter update and Merchant Pass meeting was hosted by The Sebastian and allowed us to get a lot of pertinent information out. We would like to thank Vail Chamber Executive Director Alison Wadey for another year of exemplary service, as well as the town of Vail and Vail Resorts for providing timely updates while holding off on the post-Election Day humor and fodder — except for one well-timed remark from Elizabeth Howe, to vote for snow. This was a great reminder that despite the best-laid plans and strategies, we are all snow farmers to some extent.

Shop Small, Shop Local

We also recently hosted a Small Business Saturday Workshop with local partner MoBloggy. With close to 20 businesses represented, social media specialists from MoBloggy's staff guided them through how to leverage Small Business Saturday marketing promotions and how to speak to your customer and encourage them to shop local. Small Business Saturday is Saturday, Nov. 26. If you are interested in taking advantage of the national promotional effort, then please contact us for more information and don't forget to shop small, shop local on Nov. 26.

Colorado Gives Day

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Speaking of supporting our community, Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, Dec. 6 this year and there are many local Eagle County nonprofits that are looking for your support this year. Colorado Gives Day is an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. For the sixth consecutive year, Community First Foundation and FirstBank are partnering to present Colorado Gives Day. Donations are accepted through ColoradoGives.org. Save your online shopping for Dec. 6 and choose to support your favorite Eagle County nonprofit.

This time of year also entails the Vail Chamber's annual board retreat and strategy meeting with Chuck Wachendorfer from Think2Perform. We have added some new board members during the past year and this meeting allows us to remain focused and aligned with our mission, goals and objectives. We achieved a balanced budget last year and approved a moderately aggressive budget for the upcoming year where we can better serve the Vail business community.

Customer Service Training

We are continuing our Merchant Pass/customer service training through November and December. We have some great opportunities for additional customer service training for your new and returning employees this season. We are co-hosting a meeting with the town of Vail Welcome Centers Dec. 9 that will emphasize not only customer service best practices but will discuss town and Vail Mountain updates, operations and resources. An added bonus is the local Vail knowledge that will be presented. Who knows — some longtime locals might learn something new, too. Supporting this local knowledge vein is the return of our Vail Walking Tours, the first three Tuesdays in December. We will lead participants through both Vail Village and Lionshead Village with stops at the ticket offices, welcome centers and other points of interest along the way. This is a great way to acquaint your employees with Vail so they can better engage with our guests this winter. All of these programs are complimentary. Call us for more information.

We look forward to hosting our ski season mixer Dec. 8 at a location to be determined. We will get word out via our newsletter and email as we make further arrangements. Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the VCBA weekly e-newsletter, all you need to do is e-mail us at info@vailchamber.org to start receiving it.

About Vail Chamber & Business Association

The Vail Chamber & Business Association is the leading business advocacy group in Vail and is a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber & Business Association and what we have to offer to business in and that do business in Vail, then please contact us at 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. Stop by and say "hello."

Chris Cremer is director of Vail operations for Intrawest and general manager of Bridge Street Ski Haus located in Vail Village. He is a Vail Chamer & Business Association board member.