Is the customer king in Aspen?
By now almost every Aspenite knows that this town is engaged in fierce competition for the paying customer. As a ski resort, Aspen is fighting for guests not only with the likes of Vail, Jackson and Whistler, but also with cruise ships, beach resorts and other warm-weather getaways.In today’s resort marketplace, there’s a premium on customer service. The host who can meet every request with a smile, the server who stays cool under pressure, the concierge who makes it happen – these people can set one resort apart from the rest, and make a loyal customer out of a one-time visitor.On the other hand, one rude waiter or salesclerk can turn a would-be patron into an enemy.In this issue, the Times’ staff set out to test Aspen’s customer service ethic. We wanted to know how the local work force would perform under just a wee bit of pressure. Our reporters went out to eat with large parties at busy times; they entered fancy places in less-than-fancy attire; they skied into lift lines without tickets – all in the interest of learning how service-oriented Aspen really is.These tests were completely unscientific. The locations were chosen at random, according to where a reporter happened to be going that night or what had happened to them over the weekend (the one exception being our decision to put the Times’ front-office staff to the test – sorry, Heather and Dottie!).But the editors insisted that everyone be honest about what they experienced – good or bad. What happened is what follows.
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