Looking forward to a stellar winter | AspenTimes.com

Looking forward to a stellar winter

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Often it is said that the Thanksgiving and December holiday seasons are times of reflection. We express thanks for what we have, spiritually or materially or both, and recall life’s achievements and setbacks with a desire to move positively into an unknown future.

At least for the short term, that future looks bright for Aspen and its economy. Just two years ago, the community was reeling from a major recession and a downfall in the real estate market. Businesses cut back on their spending and layoffs were the norm. Many companies didn’t survive despite their best efforts.

Here and across the nation, after a tough adjustment period, the economic climate slowly began to warm up. Then during the most recent summer, just four or five months ago, the national and global financial picture again began to look bleak with reports of turmoil on Wall Street and in certain European countries.

But most Aspen businesses appeared to be humming along despite the news from the world beyond the roundabout. This was proven by the city’s positive retail and sales tax reports as well as some encouraging real estate transactions. The upper Roaring Fork Valley certainly isn’t immune to what’s going on elsewhere; but as long as thousands of visitors continue to buy into our version of a resort destination, we can certainly hold our own.

Now, with this week’s official start of the 2011-12 winter tourism season, Aspen and the surrounding area stand on the brink of what could well turn out to be a stellar period. Obviously, corporations as well local entrepreneurs are feeling the same vibe. Otherwise, more than dozen new retail and restaurant operations wouldn’t have signed leases, reconfigured properties and geared up their marketing operations over the last few months, anticipating the business that could be, and should be, headed our way.

No one has a crystal ball that can predict the future. There’s no telling whether the upcoming season will be crazy busy, moderately successful or merely stable. A lot of that depends on the sweat, intelligence and dispositions that owners, managers and employees invest in their tasks.

An important reminder: Customer service always is the key to success. A business can offer the latest and greatest fashions; it can serve up the best-tasting filets and cocktails in a 300-mile radius; but all of those positive attributes count for nothing if a customer finds the service to be lacking.

So this winter, smile a lot. Go out of your way to be friendly with your patrons. Walk the extra mile to deliver on your promises. Fight through the slow stretches with some clever marketing concepts. Don’t be greedy: Work in synergy with local stakeholders and your business neighbors. Don’t give the economic naysayers a chance to be right.

It could mean the difference between five months in the black or in the red, or between significant profits or a modest sales increase. It could give you the cushion you need to live to fight another day.