Breck 101 program helps hospitality employees give local recommendations
BRECKENRIDGE — When the Breckenridge Tourism Office discovered a disconnect between hospitality employee recommendations and what guests were after, they decided to bridge the gap.
“The big pictures is basically this: the BTO does a great deal of guest interfacing research,” Suzanne Lifgren, director of community services and affairs for the tourism office. “Our goal is to match marketing with the experience in town, in that we look at guest’s commentary and challenges all the time and one of the biggest things we noticed is that when people leave reviews, it always says Breckenridge, not the (individual businesses).”
The office also discovered that people tend to ask many front-facing employees — like hotel front desk employees and ski instructors — rather than going to the hotel concierge, and that these employees were recommending places of which they had no knowledge. For example, they would recommend the same high-end restaurant they knew of or had driven past, but didn’t have a range of knowledge of the high-end restaurants in Breckenridge.
Lifgren said because many employees were all recommending the same few restaurants, people were also experiencing extensively long waits. In finding this information, Lifgren said the tourism office made it a goal to help guests better find the places they are looking for and started developing the Breck 101 program.
“It kind of spawned from this idea of creating an educational front-line employee piece. We based it off of what was currently already in practice,” Lifgren said, referring to how businesses would already offer dining experiences or activities for concierge staff to try out and recommend to guests.
Tessa Breder, the Welcome Center manager at the Breckenridge Tourism Office, explained that the office essentially built a college course. For their first two-week session, they had over 30 businesses offer individual experiences and 200 people signed up. Of course, getting a free meal or adventure experience from Breckenridge’s best is something anyone would want, but the office requires that all of these students have a high guest-facing job.
Students are also required to do a survey about their experience and submit an online review, which helps businesses improve their services. Breder said the surveys vary depending on the activity and are framed towards a potential guest’s perspective and expectations.
“We wanted to level the playing field and offer more businesses the opportunity to get recommended,” Lifgren said.
There is both a winter program and a summer program that employees can enroll in.
Breder said winter is definitely the larger and more intense program, occurring within a two week timeframe. The schedule is laid out by day and the tourism office asks participating businesses to offer varying days and times to accommodate the the employees’ work schedules.
Lifgren said many of the businesses have seen a lot of success with the program and want to continue the ideas behind it after the program is over. Due to its success, the Breck 101 program recently won an award for “Most Cost-Effective” at the Destinations International Visitor Service Summit.
“A lot of them will say, ‘Can you reach out to our students and offer them this?’ because not everything falls within the schedule,” Lifgren said.
Lifgren said the program has seen a lot of success in educating ski instructors.
“I think a lot of the instructors get skipped for who courts who, but guests spend six hours a day with the instructors and they want recommendations from them,” Lifgren said.
Breder said the program especially helps employees learn about activities to recommend around town besides skiing because, although most of the employees ski on their days off, there are plenty of guests that ask for alternatives.
“It’s really about recommending and being able to do your job with confidence,” Lifgren said. “Businesses should support it because if employees are confident in their recommendations then people come back and it creates brand loyalty.”
Kimberly Ghorai, co-owner of Meta Yoga in Breckenridge, offered the studio’s yoga classes to students in the program. While Ghorai did not specifically track guests that came to the studio who were referred by the students, she believes it is a worthwhile program and plans to participate in the program again this year.
“We just think the Breckenridge Tourism Office does such great things for our community that we want to support them in every way possible,” Ghorai said.
The winter program, which runs from Dec. 5–19, is currently open for registration at onebreckenridge.com.
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