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Tracking customer loyalty to resort towns

Great experience = more business


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Studies show on average, 70 percent of travel to Colorado resort towns is not for business; it’s for fun. That’s where discretionary spending and visitor decisions come into play. Where to stay? Where to eat? What are the must-sees?

Resort and tourism managers hope most visitors will have positive, memorable experiences so their word-of-mouth or sharable reviews on TripAdvisor or Yelp draw the next wave of customers. Tourists may not know the term, but to resort marketers, a high Net Promoter Score is golden.

When nine out of 10 people surveyed would recommend a destination to a friend or colleague, that translates to a 90 NPS. Scores in the 70s and 80s indicate satisfied but unenthusiastic customers, vulnerable to competition.

When Steamboat Ski Resort earned a 90 in January 2014, “We were thrilled,” said Loryn Kasten, public relations manager.

“We are usually in the high 80s,” she said. “We do see where we fall compared to other resorts. It’s a bit of a competition to increase the Net Promoter Score.”

Promoter survey information is gathered from out-of-town visitors via ski area ambassadors, locals hired as surveyors, and tablet computers set up at kiosks at special events and high traffic locations. In Steamboat, for example, two surveys are managed by market research and data analysis company RRC Associates in Boulder, which has 35 resort-related clients in Colorado.

“The net promoter question is an excellent overall indicator of customer satisfaction,” said Dave Belin, RRC director of consulting services. He said promoter scores in Colorado for the past two years show summer tourism towns average in the low 70s, and winter resorts average in the low 80s. Those scores are supplemented with other survey information to diagnose the whys.

Survey customer Kara Stoller, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association marketing director, noted, “With all of our metrics, we want to see growth and improvements year-over-year compared to ourselves, and we also don’t want to fall behind the competitive set.”

As marketers know, if visitors have a less than stellar experience, “the likelihood is they will take their discretionary funds somewhere else next time,” Stoller said.

Town-wide training aims to increase promotion power

Always attentive to their friendly Western hospitality reputation and tuned into consumer loyalty via surveys, social media and review sites, the Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce launched an effort to raise the town’s summer Net Promoter Score. From the current 67 NPS, leaders are aiming for a solid 75.

The chamber started Service Excellence training in February 2014 with a half-day session for 30 service advisors from across town, and by early December, 50 businesses had participated.

The aim of the ongoing instruction is to teach front-line employees that being nice and courteous is not enough. Workers need to connect with customers. Employees are trained with a memory tool to get to know their consumers genuinely, attempting to exceed customer expectations and establish loyal patrons. That usually that starts with the simple question, “Where are you from?”

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Suzie Romig

Suzie C. Romig is a freelance journalist who has lived in Colorado since 1991. Her byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the state on topics ranging from small businesses to raising children to energy efficiency. She can be reached at suziecr@q.com

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