Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. president and chief operating officer Chris Diamond addresses the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs organization Friday at Old Town Pub during the group's annual meeting. Diamond said he thinks Steamboat Ski Area and downtown businesses need to work together to bring the local economy back up.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. president and chief operating officer Chris Diamond addresses the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs organization Friday at Old Town Pub during the group's annual meeting. Diamond said he thinks Steamboat Ski Area and downtown businesses need to work together to bring the local economy back up.

Ski Corp. president: Economic downturn could last years

Steamboat must focus on service, retention and brand, Diamond said

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See the Business section on page 3A of Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today for an expanded story about Mainstreet Steamboat Springs' meeting and Diamond's talk.

— Steamboat Springs probably won't shake off its economic challenges for two or three years, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond predicted.

Diamond gave the featured talk at Mainstreet Steamboat Springs' annual meeting Friday at Old Town Pub & Restaurant. He offered tentative predictions and noted that Steamboat Ski Area and downtown businesses need to work together to provide good service to visitors.

"In terms of this season, it's not the end of the world," Diamond said. "We're going to get through it. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if by the time we get to April 12, which is our closing date : I think we could be off in total visits in single digits."

But fallout from problems in the U.S. financial market probably will trickle down for a couple of years, Diamond said. He attributed that to discussions with people from Fortress Investment Group. Fortress, a public hedge fund and private equity firm, is the parent company of Intrawest, which is the parent company of Ski Corp.

One bonus for Steamboat, however, is its high approval rating for service. Surveyors working for Ski Corp. ask visitors to rank their experiences on a 1 to 10 scale, Diamond said. The two lowest scores are subtracted from the two highest, he said, which is considered the most valid measurement. Steamboat had earned an 8.2 through about Sunday, he said. That ranking represents visitors' experiences on the mountain and off, Diamond said.

"To get something like an 8.2 is extraordinary," he said. "I think last year, we were at a 7.8. To be there - again, this is the whole community."

The ranking is the highest among Intrawest's resorts, Diamond said. The Vancouver, B.C.-based company runs 11 North American resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Copper Mountain and Winter Park.

Businesses must focus on maintaining that high level of service, he said. The weakened economy provides an opportunity to hire and retain workers who provide that, Diamond said. The Steamboat brand of Western hospitality also will be crucial, he said.

"We need to make sure next year we do everything we can to make the Steamboat product differentiated in the market," Diamond told the crowd.

Comments

freerider 5 years, 10 months ago

Hey Chris , maybe ski corp should adapt to the change in the weather...since the season seems to be starting later and the snow just keeps coming then it would makes sense to keep the mountain open longer...

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 10 months ago

"That (high) ranking represents ... the whole community."

"Businesses must focus on maintaining that high level of service, he said. ...hire and retain workers who provide that, Diamond said. The Steamboat brand of Western hospitality also will be crucial."

Meanwhile this February Steamboat, with Chris' support, may lower its goals on workforce housing. How can Chris ask Mainstreet for better service, and simultaneously advocate less housing for their workforce?

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 10 months ago

Tele, That snapshot of this season makes sense. But of course I am speaking about employee housing in the future years too. I thought you earlier joined the opinion that out our real estate demand, via boomer's second home demand, would be back on track ahead of the national trend.

To here lobby Mainstreet for "the hospitality we are known for", but elsewhere sign onto a possible law suit to gut our housing effort? Huh?

Ski Corp is taking a self-serving approach. Real Estate development was Intrawest's number one motive for buying Steamboat Ski Corp. Their long term interest in the marginal or declining business of a ski hill is debatable. Employee housing serves the latter motive, but undercuts the former motive of real estate profits.

As you point out, Ski Corp has cut jobs. People they brought here to work are either underemployed or not employed. The community is carrying this burden for them. Lift-Up was reported in earlier stories to be buried under the weight of these seasonal workers. I expect that is still the case.

Ski Corp, as a heavyweight, can have some of this both ways. Its a rare business owner who will take a position opposite Ski Corp. Chris Diamond's signature opposing workforce housing will influence many. In my opinion, that signature is symbolic in many ways, of the state of our partnership.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 10 months ago

Steve: This AH seems to be your firstborn, you seem willing to attack anyone that questions this program. I lived most of my life without AH and I'm only mildly retarded.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 10 months ago

Fred, The kayakers say, "You don't want to follow Lewi". So "unique" would be a better nicer generalization of my character.

You are right. I should be nicer to Mary Brown. I don't actually know her.

But my stints around Centennial Hall have seen a lot about Ski Corps relationship to the community: the LMD, the URA (see today's cover), and sales tax. My points are valid.

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