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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The waitlist for infant childcare is currently 50 deep in Aspen, and babies who haven’t been conceived or born yet are on some of those lists. Aspen City Council is attempting to find solutions to address the crisis.