Jim Clark: Steamboat Chamber CEO starts column with newspaper
January 14, 2015
Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Jim Clark, CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, and if you read these pages often, you know I arrived in September.
In the news article, I called this my "dream job," and it's as true now as the day I was hired. Living and working here has been a desire of mine for decades, and it's finally come true. I'm proud and honored to be here.
During the next several months, I will be writing to you through this column about a variety of topics — some will be issues that are important in our community. This space also will be used to give you some information about the things we work on here at the Chamber. And other times, well, let's just say that like many folks, I have opinions and you'll get some of them here.
I'm looking forward to the conversations that are sure to arise from this column.
Many of you in this community work directly in the hospitality industry in one form or another, and many don't. But everyone here in Steamboat interacts with the visitor industry and the visitor.
Unless you're a recluse, you can't avoid it this time of year, right? They're everywhere. The gondola line is longer, restaurants are busy and the line of cars coming west on U.S. Highway 40 can be a long one.
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Some might consider the visitor an inconvenience, and I can't blame them. But that inconvenience pays off in so many ways: jobs, tax collections and a quality of life we enjoy that is envied by so many. Visitors pay for a lot of what we enjoy: a world-class ski resort, a lively downtown, great restaurants and unique locally owned businesses.
I'm sure you know what the most important form of advertising is, right? Word of mouth. We track something here called a net promoter score. You've read about it, I'm sure. The higher the net promoter score, the more likely a visitor is to tell their friends and family that this is a good place to visit, and a good business to frequent. If the score is low, well, we've all got a problem.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. uses this measurement and began a Service Excellence Training program that dramatically improved its visitor experience, and in turn, the NPS score. The Chamber has embraced increasing net promoter score as a communitywide goal, and our efforts were recently featured in The New York Times. We conduct the same training that Ski Corp. provides for every kind of business in Steamboat, aiming to improve the total community experience.
One of the reasons I was so excited to settle here was my experiences as a frequent visitor from Fort Collins. Steamboat Springs is real — a genuine community known for its friendliness and Western hospitality.
Lately I've been receiving emails from visitors who were here for the holidays — during the busiest time of the year — and raved about the great service and warm, helpful people that made their stays so enjoyable. Some of my counterparts from the Front Range share the same message: that this is one of their favorite places, filled with authentic experiences and friendly people.
Going a little extra step that costs nothing to you can mean so much to the visitor. Some ski towns have a reputation, fair or not, of being somewhat cold. Visitors feel like they're inconvenience in these places, and as that reputation builds, folks just decide to go elsewhere.
As a resort community with a sales tax-based city government, we need every good word we can get out there. So, if you come across a visitor (or a local), say “hello.” Welcome them. Engage them in conversation on the chairlift. Tell them winter is great, but summer is fabulous, too. Invite them back.
It costs nothing and will make you both feel great.
Jim Clark is the CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
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