I have been skiing in Vail Colorado for about 45 years now. George Gillett Jr. bought Vail Resorts in 1985 and sold the resort in 1996. The first time I met George I asked him what he does, He said, “I am in customer service.” Later I found out he was the owner. He built a customer-driven ski resort. He even has an endorsement in my book Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service.
In 2006 Vail Resorts moved their headquarters for their flagship resort in Vail to Broomfield, Colorado in the Denver area. My friend Manny Steil the guru of Listening said this is when they started to lose their focus on customer service. They moved away from the ski mountain.
For years I have been using Vail Resorts in my seminars and books. They have been losing their brand, Like Nothing on Earth. COVID has been the demise of Vail. The skiing is still great. Grooming on the mountain is awesome. Ski Patrol is awesome. It is just not the same.
The problem is guest service is now unnecessary. Customer Service is fast disappearing. A private ski lesson is $1200 a day. They pay the instructor $80. Customer and Employees are very unhappy. This is an in-depth article on January 28 in the Denver Post.
The value of a company is based on its brand. Vail Resorts is taking a hit. On March 9th the say I wrote this newsletter the stock was $237.18 a share. Its high was $372.51 on November 5, 2021. I suspect it will drop even more with their March 14 earnings report.
Here is an article on the 5-year decline in earnings. The five-year decline in earnings for Vail Resorts NYSE:MTN) isn’t encouraging, but shareholders are still up 60% over that period (yahoo.com).
In my seminars, one of the core areas for the Proven Process for Driving a Service Culture (customer-service.com) is Reduction Friction. Make it easy for someone to do business with you. Eliminate stupid rules and policies. Call Vail Resorts at 1-970-754-8245 to go through the menu. This week I called to try and found what the cost of a buddy pass was for my son. I got hold of someone in the Philippines and he had no idea. I called back and finally got a price of $148, but when I asked what the price of a ski pass was for the day, he had no idea. I had to go to the ticket window to find out. I have a season ski pass which I paid about $899 for. This season I will ski for 12 days which costs me only $75 a day to ski.
One of the core elements in my flagship customer service program Feelings, is Learning. Understand everything about your company. The two employees have a JOB but they had no idea about the most simple details about the ski resort. Financial wizards now run Vail Resorts. They think with their head, not their hearts. They are a causality of COVID. I am not sure they will recover their brand, Vail Like Nothing on Earth. Vail Resorts opened in 1962, Vail Resorts now owns 37 resorts. Vail will still remain of the most impressive ski resorts in the world.
In my book Relentless I talked about the decline of Vail Resorts. Each year it gets a little worse. I have never understood why so few executives understand the power of the service strategy. Vernon Hill the CEO of Republic Bank, Co-Founder of Metro Bank, and founder of Commerce Bank said it starts with a thousand cuts Vail has been focusing on reducing the customer experience with a thousand cuts.