Mountain Spy

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With the industry focus squarely on families, in this Mountain Spy, Liz Eren played Mom (we mean, decision-maker) and called around to see what this potential family trip had for her. As always, you just can’t put a price on good customer service, no matter how many options you’ve got.

Question: I’m planning a weekend trip with my two kids, but I don’t ski. What sort of non-skier activities do you offer? 

MOUNTAIN 1, ME

First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Well, it depends on the week. We have various different activities going on depending on the week and depending on the day. Um, but we do offer some different options. If you’d like I’ll transfer you to our guest services center and they can give you more details as to what we offer at what times.
SAM: I’m just trying to get a general idea of what you offer.
Staff: OK. Well, just in general we have zipline tours, which is kind of neat. It’s kind of a fun experience there. You don’t need to have any experience there. Um, that’s one option, but other than that and, like I said, it kind of varies on the week. But we do have a ton of different restaurants of that nature so we should be able to find something for you. But I can transfer you if you want…
SAM: Well, is it OK if I just call back when I know I’m coming and I can see what’s going on at that time?
Staff: Of course, sure. Thanks for calling and have a great day.

Rating: 7.5
Comment: Very polite. But the frontline needs to be faster on their feet.


MOUNTAIN 2, VT 

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: What I would recommend is actually going to X website, they’re like our chamber of commerce. So if you go to www.xxx.com, um, it’s an excellent website to find other activities. The main activities here are skiing, snowboard, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, um, that would be the main thing. Um, our hotel has a spa. It’s very nice. I would recommend that definitely. And um, uh, dog sledding. Yes, you can arrange reservations for dog sledding at the mountain inn here.
SAM: Well that’s a start thanks. And I can check out that website for more. (Silence…)
Staff: Riiiight. (Silence…)
SAM: OK, then. I can do that.
Staff: Yuuuup.

Rating: 5
Comment: At least I got a website, which I’m sure will provide more information than she did.


Mountain 3, VT

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, the only thing, when did you say you were coming?
SAM: Just for a weekend after Christmas.
Staff: OK, the reason I ask is we do have tubing here. It’s not open now because they have to build the tubing park when we have enough snow. So depending on when you come, it’s a possibility. They usually try and get that built around Christmas. Um, there is snowshoeing once we get enough snow. If you wanted to do that that would available for tours through our spa. Um, there is snowmobiling. It’s not actually our company, it’s on our property, um, but I would have to give you an outside line for that. It’s a private company that does snowmobiling tours. Um, there, um depending on the snow of course, there is a husky, accompanying, it’s not our mountain, but it’s nearby. And you can go, ah, I guess it’s a sled pulled by huskies. That’s something you would have look up. I mean once we get a ton of snow all these things will open up.
SAM: Sure, no problem. And I don’t think I’ll be coming until after Christmas.
Staff: OK, great. There might be a horse-drawn sleigh ride that is close by. And there’s cross-country that’s not on our property, but close by. There’s quite a lot of non-skiing. Cross-country you might have to put something on, but it’s not coming down the mountain, it’s on flat ground most of the time so that’s something think about. Um, we do have a spa that’s open all year so you could get all kinds of different spa treatments if you wanted to stay inside.
SAM: Well, all that sounds great. Should I just talk to someone at the hotel when we arrive?
Staff: Um, yes. The front desk will give you any contact information for any other those things I’ve told you about. Um, they’ll be able to help you when you’re here. They’ll have an idea of whether these things are up and running because of snow conditions. The reason I’m saying that is because last year we had a lot of snow on the mountain because we can make snow, but in the countryside it was pretty sparse for things like the snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. They had a rougher time because they depend on natural snow. So talk to the front desk as to what they feel is available and they can give you numbers. Some of them, I’m trying to think, some of them if you come around Christmas you might have to book ahead of time. You can go to our site to get contact information. So, yeah, if you’re coming around a holiday you will want to book ahead because everyone likes to do those things. But, um, call the front desk when you have a better idea of when you’re coming. Like I said, you can go to the website to get more information on things. The local chamber of commerce is a good place to get information on things that aren’t on our mountain. Um, let’s see, their number is 555-5555.
SAM: Well, I can give you a call back when I know exactly when I’m coming.
Staff: Yeah. Calling is better because we’ll know what kind of snow we have by that time. I mean right now we have limited trails, we’re open, but not fully open. It’s a little bit of natural we’ve got and the snow guns.
SAM: Great, thanks.
Staff: And um, check our website for our events calendars. In case there’s anything you want to look at while you’re here. The website is xxx.com. We have fireworks at different times of the years, kids’ things and lots of music going on throughout the year as well.
SAM: Thanks so much. I’ve got a lot I can look at.

Rating: 8.5
Comment: Wow. Thorough is a slight understatement, but minus 1.5 for talking non-stop for about 15 minutes.


Mountain 4, PA

First contact: Automated machine. Hold time: 5:30 minutes!
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: We have snow tubing!
SAM: OK.
Staff: Yeah, that’s our non-skiing activity up here at the mountain. Have you ever gone snow tubing?
SAM: Umm, you know, not since I was kid.
Staff: Ha Ha Ha. No, it’s fun! We’ve actually doubled our terrain so we have thirty-three tubing chutes. And then we have two magic carpets.
SAM: Oh wow. So that’s something to do with the kids if they want to take a break from skiing.
Staff: Yeah, yeah! And if they’re skiing up here and have a lift ticket and they have that same day ticket you’ll get a discount at the tubing lanes.
SAM: Well perfect, that’s a good option. Thank you.
Staff: Sure, have a good day!

Rating: 8
Comment: Big points for an enthusiastic attitude. But minus two for not offering up something for the beleaguered Mom to do indoors.


Mountain 5, N.H. 

First contact: Automate machine. Chose guest services.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: We have a tubing hill. Uh, we have a Nordic center so we offer cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Our zip tour will be operating on weekends and holidays.
SAM: Oh, you offer that in the winter?
Staff: Yes. (Silence…)
SAM: Um, yeah those sound like good options!
Staff: Yup. (Silence…)
SAM: Oook, well should I call back when it gets closer to when I’m coming or is there somewhere I can learn more about those things?
Staff: We have our website. It’s xxx.com. If you look under the Y menu it shows you all we offer here in the winter. (Silence…)
SAM: I can do that, thanks.

Rating: 2
Comment: Yawn.


Moutain 6, MI

Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Ummmm, the spa?
SAM: OK.
Staff: We have a spa! You can go to the spa and treat yourself to a spa!
SAM: Sure, I can do that.
Staff: Um, we have cross-country skiing, snowshoeing. When you’re coming and weather permitting, we have ice-skating and a water park… plenty of things.
SAM: Great, I can definitely check that stuff out.

Rating: 5
Comment: I think she likes the spa. But she should have pointed me to a website to check it all out.


Mountain 7, IN

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Well, we do have snow tubing. So there is snow tubing. It’s a separate hill, but it’s in walking distance. I mean you can see it from the ski area. Um, so, that is one option. The other option is a lot of people just come in while their kids are skiing and sit inside while their kids are skiing and watch TV or read a book. You know it’s not like we have ice-skating or a movie theater on the premises.
SAM: Sure, that’s fine.
Staff: Yup, and we do have free wi-fi so if you’re somebody that can bring their laptop and do things, you’re welcome to do that or your e-reader, so..
SAM: Yeah, I can do that. Thanks.
Staff: Sounds great! Thanks for calling.

Rating: 8
Comment: Great attitude and a realistic approach to what they have.


Mountain 8, CA

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, there’s tubing that we typically offer.
SAM: OK.
Staff: Usually it’s $30 an hour and you need to be 42 inches to ride. It’s located at the top of the gondola. Um, it’s not open yet, but they’re working in that area to try and get it open.
SAM: OK, is that all you offer that is non-skiing?
Staff: Yes. Uh-huh. (Silence…)
SAM: Um, well thanks.

Rating: 1
Comment: This resort may not offer many non-skiing activities on-hill, but there couldn’t be more options for non-skiers at the base of this large resort. It’s a shame she didn’t mention any of that. And there are not many Moms out there under 42 inches...


Mountain 9, CA

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question
Staff: Um, well, we do if you consider snowshoeing non-skiing activities. We have snowshoes for people to rent and you wander around. We also have cross-country skiing, which is in the stride form, which is more like walking with skis than anything else. And that’s available as well. But, um, during the day that’s pretty much it. We have some shopping available for retail opportunities. But that about covers it.
SAM: No problem. The snowshoeing sounds great so I can look into that. Thanks so much.
Staff: Yeah, unfortunately, we don’t have a large commercial village like some of the bigger resorts do. We’re more of a small, mountain experience resort.
SAM: That’s no problem.
Staff: Well great, thanks for calling.

Rating: 7
Comment: Very kind, but minus a few points for not upselling XC or snowshoeing a little more.


Mountain 10, OR - Winner!

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: You like tubing? We got a tubing park. We got, ah, we got quite a few things going on actually.
SAM: OK.
Staff: We’ve got our tubing park, which is quite popular. We have our snow dogs. Our, ah, snow dog rides. So sled dogs. And we also have, ah, through a company called X, we have snowshoe tours. So those are the three things that we would have for those that don’t prefer to ski or snowboard. When are you planning to come up?
SAM: I’m not sure exactly, but it will definitely be after Christmas. I’m just trying to get an idea of what I can do. The snowshoeing and dog sledding sound fun.
Staff: Oh yeah. Do you have Internet access?
SAM: Yup.
Staff: Well I would suggest going to our website at www.xxx.com. And you’ll see the services and activities menu in the middle of the bar at the top. Pull that down and we have an activities section that gives more information on our snowshoeing, dog sledding and tubing park.
SAM: Great, I can do that.
Staff: Yeah, and if you have any other specific questions give us a call back and we can help you book it as well.
SAM: Thanks!

Rating: 9
Comment: Patient, polite and big points for both a website mention and exactly where to go.

IDENTITY REVEALED: MT. BACHELOR



Mountain 11, CO

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Oh sure! There’s quite a bit to do. We have hot springs both in town and ones that are 7 miles out. Can I put you on hold quick?
SAM: Um, sure. Hold time: 1 minute.
Staff: I’m back. So what time of year would you be coming?
SAM: Probably not until after Christmas.
Staff: OK! So there’s the hot springs that are in town and the hot springs that are out of town. And a lot of this you can see on xxx.com.
SAM: Sure thing. What I would like though is to stay on the mountain so I can be nearby while my kids are skiing.
Staff: Yeah! I’m going to put you on hold once more, OK? Thank you. Hold time: 30 seconds.
Staff: So, um, yeah. You could check out different lodging. And then if you stayed on the mountain you could ride up the mountain and there are places to have lunch up there. And then on Thursday nights we have a happy hour up there. And on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday we have a western BBQ in the evening. And it’s really fun for kids and families. It’s a buffet and they have music and they have things for the kids. Different little activities of music and dancing. How old are your children?
SAM: They’re twelve and fourteen.
Staff: Oh, OK. And you know we have the ski school if they’re interested. We also have a sleigh ride at night. And then there’s sledding outside of town and that could be done during the day or the evening depending on which you prefer. And then we have a spa. So if you wanted to go have a massage or a facial or anything like that.
SAM: Yeah, that would be great.
Staff: Ha ha ha. Yeah. And then depending on what condo or hotel you would be staying at—a lot of them have pools outside. Where are you from?
SAM: We’re from Denver.
Staff: Oh, OK, so you know what our climate is like. So you know you can swim outside and go in the hot tubs. And then there’s horseback riding and snowmobiling. Or there’s shopping. And we have a free bus service so if you wanted to go into town or whatever.
SAM: Great, that’s a lot to do.
Staff: Yeah! Yeah, you would have a good time. We would love to see you up here!
SAM: Thanks so much. I’ll look into what you mentioned.

Rating: 8
Comment: Very sweet woman, but minus two for talking two million MPH—you had to have been there.


Mountain 12, CO

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yeah. Um, give me just one second… all right? So we have, um, sorry I’m just looking up all the activities we have going on. Like, when were you planning to visit?
SAM: I’m not sure yet. It will be after Christmas, though.
Staff: OK. Well we do have snow tubing. We have the scenic sleigh ride, the dinner sleigh ride. We have the snow cat tours where you ride in, like, one of our groomers and they, like, tour the mountain with you. Um, by then the Nordic center should be open and they, like, have sledding and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. By then the adventure center might be open as well. It just depends on if the lake, like, freezes and there would be ice-skating and hockey there. We have the scenic gondola ride so you can just, like, ride the gondola up and back down. Um, and that looks like about all the activities I have in front of me.
SAM: OK, well that’s a good start.
Staff: Yeah, there’s a lot of activities that go on here. And it does switch daily. Usually every day we have something going on. And then we always have, like, something going on during the week for X event, which is for kids so that’s always going on.
SAM: Well, I’m really looking for something I can do while they’re skiing. And like I said I would be coming up for just the weekend.
Staff: Yeah. Um, yeeeeah. Let’s see, like… so it looks like after Christmas we have a kids’ night out where we will watch your kids from 5 to 9 and the adults can do whatever you would like to do. And we have fireworks coming up as well. And on New Year’s Eve we have fireworks and a torch parade. Um, and it looks like all through January on Friday nights we will have fireworks at the top of Y mountain.
SAM: Great, sounds good. Thanks.
Staff: Yeeeah. Did you have any other questions?
SAM: I don’t think so. Thanks for your help.

Rating: 6
Comment: She was, like, thorough and enthusiastic enough, but this Mom hates the word “like.”


Mountain 13, OR

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, well we have a huge lodge. So there’s not a lot of, well, there’s snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
SAM: OK.
Staff: But, we have a huge lodge. We have a bar, we have a restaurant. A nice retail store.
SAM: Ok, I guess I can just hang out then.
Staff: Yeah, you know, relax, watch them come down the hill.
SAM: Sure. Thank you.
Staff: Sure thing. Have a good day.

Rating: 3
Comment: Not much meat to that conversation. Everyone has a lodge.


Mountain 14, QC

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator. Hold time: 24 minutes. Crazy!
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: When are you planning to come?
SAM: After Christmas, just for a weekend.
Staff: OK. Did you go on our website?
SAM: No, but I certainly can.
Staff: Yeah, because we have a lot of activities. You just go on the activity for winter and it’s going to give you everything. So if you’re not into skiing you can do like dog sledding or different other things. We have a lot of things here.
SAM: Great. I can go check that out.
Staff: Do you need any other information besides activities?
SAM: Nope, that was it.
Staff: OK. Bye bye.

Rating: 2
Comment: One point for finally picking up the phone and one point for website mention. But 24 minutes is unforgivable.


Mountain 15, QC

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Can I put you on hold for a minute?
SAM: Sure. Hold time: 4 minutes.
Staff: Hello?
SAM: Hi? I was put on hold…
Staff: Sorry. We are very busy. Maybe we forgot you?
SAM: Restated question.
Staff: Oh, we have every class of ski for beginners, intermediate and experienced. I don’t know in English.
SAM: Well, I don’t ski. I’m wondering what I can do when my kids are skiing.
Staff: Um, OK. You maybe can make, wait a minute… um, here you can make cross-country skiing or snowshoe. OK, you understand?
SAM: Yup.
Staff: OK, but you need your own equipment because we don’t make rental for those activities.
SAM: OK. Do you offer anything else?
Staff: Um, this year, I don’t think so. Um, you can walk…(Silence).
SAM: OK, well maybe I can check out your website. Thanks so much.

Rating: 3
Comment: A quick transfer to someone who can handle this call would have made all the difference...or a website mention. But I knew I was calling somewhere where English isn’t the first language, so I’m cutting them a small break.
 

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