Steamboat Springs Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden is trying something new with a ski rental kiosk around the corner from baggage claim in the terminal.
Black Tie Ski Rental was awarded the contract to run the kiosk after a request for proposal process drew five responses, including Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.
“We’d had over the years a number of local companies that had expressed interest in having a presence out at the airport,” airport manager Dave Ruppel said.
It wasn’t possible in the past because of a lack of space, but recent changes plus interest from passengers led airport staff to put together a request for proposal.
The kiosk has been staffed here and there recently depending on flights, said Ian Prichard, co-founder and president of Black Tie Ski Rentals. But starting Thursday, Black Tie will have it open and running full time with a dedicated manager and two staff members.
Prichard said the new kiosk location not only will provide a way to capture incoming visitors who haven’t arranged ski rentals, but it also will work as a concierge of sorts, making recommendations or possibly reservations for dining, entertainment or activities such as snowmobiling.
The first metaphorical hat that Black Tie staff members at the airport will be wearing, he said, is a “Welcome to Steamboat” hat.
Ski rentals are one of those things visitors don’t necessarily have to book ahead of time, and it can slip through the cracks, Prichard said. But it remains to be seen just how much of a captive audience there is while people make their way from baggage claim to finding their ride into town.
The contract Black Tie has with the airport reflects that yet unknown factor.
Ruppel said YVRA receives a percent of the gross revenue Black Tie does at the airport location based on a sliding scale. The better Black Tie does, the greater the percentage it pays back to the airport, ranging from 10 to 12 percent.
The airport will be paid monthly, Ruppel said, with the total amount being revisited based on sales.
Unlike some other vendors or services offered at the airport, Black Tie will not pay a rental fee for the space. Ruppel said the kiosk is a pilot program, and the airport is assuming a little more risk recognizing that it might not work out.
The request for proposal for the kiosk went out Aug. 19, proposals were due by Sept. 17 and the decision was made Oct. 15.
“The bottom line is we’re really excited about the opportunity,” Prichard said.
“It’s such an interesting, unique idea that we didn't want to pass up on the opportunity. We’re excited to be part of the airport and arrival experience.”
Black Tie’s Vail location also recently acquired an airport presence. Each of Black Tie's 13 locations are independently owned and operated. Black Tie Ski Rental of Vail and Beaver Creek now has a desk inside the Vail Valley Jet Center, the private general aviation segment of Eagle County Regional Airport. The desk will sell soft goods in addition to booking rentals, but it will be staffed by Jet Center employees rather than Black Tie staff.
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz
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