Imagine if you will a corner table at a local favorite restaurant. It is a sunny autumn afternoon; the perfect time for a small reprieve from the day’s business and to indulge in fine conversation with great minds. Soon, guests arrive, each displaying in the twinkle of their eyes their confidence in things to come. This is what good conversation feels like.
Our actual meeting place: Facebook. My guests today: Patti Clark (Green Mountain Inn), The Grey Fox Inn, Johannes von Trapp (Trapp Family Lodge), Stowe Land Trust and Chuck Heingartner (Pall Spera Company).
I asked them: From the perspective of hospitality in Stowe, what has changed the most and in the best interest of visitors over the past 10 years?
Patti Clark, Innkeeper at The Green Mountain Inn, chimed in with her appreciation for the contributions of new technologies to the hospitality business and its clientèle. “The Internet and technology have been revolutionary to the hospitality field during the past fifteen years”, she says, “The Internet allows our business to update and change rates to be competitive. Social media is providing relevant content and allowing the consumer to share their resort experience”, she continues, “Websites have given the consumer immediate and thorough understanding of the product and on-line booking companies allow guests to book their accommodations in a quick and efficient manner.”
Can you picture walking directly behind a hotel’s front desk say, thirty years ago, to help yourself to the reservation book and check yourself in? An act that would have been invasive and disruptive then now takes place on a daily basis (online) and benefits the place of business and its clients equally.
The Grey Fox Inn agrees that “Direct access to each property’s booking system via the Internet” is one of the most remarkable changes to occur over the past ten years. “This has placed the power in the hands of the consumer to see reviews and compare prices,” the Grey Fox concludes. This is certainly a historical turning point. Not only do data management and Internet technologies transform how we do business, but they transform how we behave also.
What does it mean in a highly competitive world to have placed power in the hands of the consumer? Isn’t it risky to have so much input from so many sources? Johannes von Trapp points out that, “The hospitality business continues to become more and more competitive, which redounds to the benefit of the consumer”. This one statement in itself could lead to an entire discussion. With access to a virtual world of ever-expanding information, you and I naturally become information and knowledge hungry consumers who must develop the skills to recognize a good product and a good business. Conversely, business owners must develop a public image that far exceeds the newspaper ad or billboard. This requires thoughtfulness and integrity and calls corporate managers to higher standards.
Interestingly, most individuals who value higher standards also tend to seek this goal actively. This can be observed in areas that pertain to the environment, as Stowe Land Trust points out: “More than ever, people who work, live and visit Stowe are passionate about protecting our natural resources, the wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.”
This, clearly, is another change in behavior and there is no doubt that today’s information technology plays an immense role in fulfilling our environmental goals by assembling those who share them. “We are inspired by our local partnerships that enable us to work together to protect the landscape while opening it up for everyone to enjoy,” adds Stowe Land Trust, “Volunteering with SLT is a great way to dive right in to the Stowe community and meet new people.”
Chuck Heingartner, from our Village office, believes upgrades to the Mountain, over the past 6 years, to be a great asset to Stowe. Such upgrades include the new base lodge Spruce Camp, Stowe Mountain Lodge, the Transfer Lift to connect Spruce Peak to Mount Mansfield, an 18-hole golf course at Spruce Peak and the mountain bike trails the Stowe Mountain bike club has added over the past 10 years.
The phrase “expanding and welcoming hospitality community” comes to mind. In the end, it all boils down to how inviting and how much like home a community becomes over time; in fact, how much like a community it feels.