Tourists aren’t hearing ‘May I help you?’ |

Tourists aren’t hearing ‘May I help you?’

KIM MARQUISsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Reid Williams Shirt & Ernie's manager Eric Schroeder points out sale items to customers in the Breckenridge Main Street gift store Wednesday. Surveys show guests find resort help friendly.

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge tourists may be getting more smiles out of the locals, but it appears they may not be hearing “May I help you?” as much.Winter tourists dubbed Breckenridge’s No. 1 asset its friendly atmosphere, according to an independent survey commissioned by the Breckenridge Resort Chamber. Overall customer service also improved by 6 percent this winter compared to last, according to a separate survey called “Mystery shopper.” “Mystery shopper” evaluates 200 tourist outlets in areas like “offering assistance” and “service that’s enjoyable.” It is part of Friends Welcome, a resort chamber program launched five years ago that aims to create a new ethic on friendly attitudes. Rob Millisor, co-owner at Grand Timber Lodge and former board member of the resort chamber, said Friends Welcome was created to make it “cool” to be nice to people.”We realized that improving customer service will improve our bottom line,” Millisor said. “I think we’ve done that with Friends Welcome, and I think we’re delivering the product better than we ever have.”Yet he acknowledges that not everyone is participating.

“If you read the numbers they’re pretty self-evident. The companies that participate in the program have higher results,” he said. “That goes right to the bottom line, too. I don’t know if it’s apathy or absentee ownership, but our goal is to get all the merchants to participate in this program. It’s free and it’s almost unbelievable that people don’t do it.”However, not everybody is smiling. The “Mystery shopper” conducted this winter showed fewer stores are greeting customers. “‘Greet’ is traditionally our lowest-scoring area,” said Lisa Citron, Friends Welcome program director. “It still continues to baffle me. Greetings at retail outlets was one of the lowest scoring segments this season. We need to work on that as far as this part of the (service) segment is concerned.”This year, “Greetings/ Acknowledgement” scored a 78 percent in all service sectors, but only 66 percent in retail stores. A greeting is as simple as, “Hi, may I help you?” Citron said. More than 3,000 employees and 115 businesses have completed Friends Welcome guest service training. “I feel the retail segment has not participated a lot,” Citron said. “They’re my target market.”Overall satisfaction

Preliminary results measuring tourists’ overall satisfaction this winter were discussed at a recent chamber retail forum. Public transportation options, dining service and quality of lodging accommodations received high marks, along with the town’s “friendly” atmosphere, which was voted No. 1. As seen in past surveys over the last 12 years, the cost of food and retail items received low marks.”Predictably, (responses to) pricing questions score the lowest,” said resort chamber executive director Cory Mihm. “That is typical in any type of survey.”Yet accommodation prices scored higher this year, receiving a 3.4 approval rating on a scale of 1 to 5.”That is important because there was some concern over our aging lodging facilities,” Mihm said. “But people do feel like they’re getting value (and) an incredibly good experience that’s reasonably priced.”The RRC Associates’ survey also measures activities tourists participate in while they’re in town.Fifty-two percent of tourists shopped – a figure that climbed slightly over the last two years. In 2003, 49 percent shopped and in 2002, only 47 percent did.

The same trend was seen in dining. This year, 46 percent went out to eat while the prior two years saw 44 and 42 percent dining out.”While we still have opportunities to get more guests dining out and shopping, it is good to see a bit of a rebound from the past two seasons,” Mihm said.Survey information also includes demographic patterns. As expected, the results showed that Breckenridge tourists are getting older and are participating in activities other than skiing, like snowshoeing and sleigh rides. Trends the resort chamber is keeping close tabs on include participation in cross country skiing and mountain biking. “Those are things we’re trying to put Breckenridge on the map for,” Mihm said. “Right now it’s still holding steady in the 3 to 5 percent range, but we expect to see that increase over time.”Up to 2,800 guests completed the survey and results are still being compiled. A full report will be presented at the resort chamber’s annual meeting on July 12.Kim Marquis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at

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