January 2022

Mountain Spy :: January 2022

The Question: How long does it take to go through your equipment rental process?

Written by Dave Meeker | 0 comment

Rental operations at many ski areas underwent significant changes last season. Some of those changes were temporary, while others were permanent. All of which means there are few givens for guests about what to expect this year when they roll into your parking lot ready to rent. We wanted to see how well informed frontline staff were about the process this year, hence the question.

Typically, the Spy doesn’t have a difficult time getting ski area staff on the phone. For this mission, though, of the six resorts on the Spy’s initial call list, only two picked up the phone. The rest of the calls sent the Spy down a phone-tree rabbit hole. Sometimes there was light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a voicemail box or a callback option (although the Spy is still waiting for that callback). More often, rentals would drop off the list of options, leaving the Spy stranded. 

We know, we know…most everyone is short staffed this season. But it is important to make sure that your customer service channels provide customer service. If you know there is no one at the other end of the line, use your automated message to point callers to a channel where they can get answers, be it your website FAQs or live chat, your social media, or even email. 

Psst! Have a question for the Spy? Email it to dave@saminfo.com. If we use it, your ski area is immune for that issue. This question was sent to us by a reader from the Mid-Atlantic. Thanks!



Answering phone: Automated machine. Waited for the next available operator.
First contact: Female (sounds disinterested).
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: (pause) How much time should you leave?
SAM: Yeah, like how much time should I set aside to get through rentals.
Staff: It’s not that long. It doesn’t take long. All you have to do is sign the rental form. Um, you can purchase rentals online or here at the ticket window.
SAM: OK, is there a benefit to purchasing online or anything like that?
Staff: Yeah. So you don’t go to the ticket office and tell them what you want. If you buy them online they can just pull up your order and print your receipt to take to the rental shop.
SAM: OK, so if I buy online I can essentially skip a step?
Staff: Yeah.
SAM: OK! And what time do you open on Saturday?
Staff: On Saturday, we open at (pause) 8 a.m.
SAM: OK, great. Thank you very much.
Staff: OK, bye-bye.

Score: 3

Comment: It kinda seemed like I woke this guest service agent up from a nap. It took a little bit of prodding at the beginning, but she eventually divulged more details about the rental process. A friendly tone goes a long way, and she may have received a higher score if I didn’t get the impression I was wasting her time. 



Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose mountain representative.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Umm, it shouldn’t take too long. We recommend you arrive about an hour to 30 minutes before you want to start skiing, just so you can get everything sorted out and fitted for your rentals and everything. Um, but 30 minutes should be more than enough time.
SAM: OK. And is there a specific parking lot I should use?
Staff: Yup, the main parking lot is right next to all of our buildings, and that’s free parking in general. But if it’s too busy then they’ll put you in the second or third lot, but they shuttle you up to us.
SAM: OK, great. Thanks! I will plan on arriving about 30 minutes early.

Score: 6

Comment: She was friendly and upbeat, but only provided basic information. More details about the process (do I need a reservation?) or questions about my trip would have been appreciated since, you know, I need rentals so I’m probably not a seasoned pro.



Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose guest services.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: It shouldn’t take that long. I’d say if you arrive here at 8:00 a.m., then that is enough time to have you skiing by 9:00.
SAM: OK, thanks.
Staff: You’re welcome. You’ll also want to reserve your rentals online to save some time.
SAM: OK, anything else I should know?
Staff: Yeah, if you don’t have lift tickets either, you can get those in advance online, too.
SAM: Great, I’ll do that. Sounds like everything has moved online, eh?
Staff: (chuckles) Yep, pretty much!
SAM: OK, well thanks for this information. See you this weekend.
Staff: Sounds good. Bye!

Score: 7

Comment: Short and sweet, but knowledgeable about the rental process. And she made sure I knew to reserve tickets and rentals in advance online. 



First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Not long at all. If you give me a second, I can call the shop and verify for you.
SAM: Yeah, that’d be great! Thank you
(on hold for two minutes)
Staff: Hi, this is [name].
SAM: Yup, hello.
Staff: Yes, for rentals, right? 
SAM: (laughs) Yes.
Staff: (laughs) OK, yup. He said if it’s not busy or crowded, it usually takes 10-15 minutes.
SAM: 10-15 minutes. OK. And I am planning on coming up on a Saturday, so should I plan on coming up earlier?
Staff: Usually, Saturday gets a little more people, but it hasn’t been that bad because we’re capacity based. You have to buy your ticket ahead of time.
SAM: Oh, that’s good to know. I don’t have lift tickets yet.
Staff: Yup, you have to purchase your tickets online, and if you are going to rent, just scroll down a little bit and you’ll see where it says “lift plus rental.”
SAM: OK, great. Thank you for that.
Staff: Yup. OK, bye bye.

Score: 8

Comment: Despite the brief moment of confusion and laughter upon returning from on hold, this staffer was helpful, and even went the extra step to confirm what she already knew. I appreciate the specific directions for navigating the website, too.



Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose the call center.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Oh! Um. Probably like a half hour. Do you have lessons?
SAM: We don’t have lessons, it’s something we looked at…
Staff: Actually, I would recommend coming an hour before to get through the rental process. 
Staff: Just to be on the safer side.
SAM: OK. And what time do lifts open?
Staff: They open at 8:00.
SAM: OK, so I can get there at 7:00?
Staff: Yes. Err… (asks co-worker what time rentals opens.)
Staff: So, rentals opens at 8:00, so I would just get here at 8:00.
SAM: OK, so we can get there at 8:00 and be on snow by 9:00?
Staff: Yes.
SAM: OK. Anything else I need to know before arriving?
Staff: No. Umm, just make sure…is it your first time here?
SAM: It would be, yes.
Staff: So, umm, when you get here, outside you’ll see these windows and make sure to have that barcode, um, on your phone or printed out and then you can scan it outside and it will print out some passes.
SAM: Oh! OK, so I need a barcode?
Staff: Yes. You need to buy online.
SAM: OK, thanks.
Staff: You’re welcome!
SAM: Alright, so... 
Staff: See you tomorrow!

Score: 2

thumbs downComment: Hey, early season hours can be funky, and she did source a co-worker for info, which is good. But when a guest asks about rentals, it should be a hint that he or she is a newbie, which means more guidance is needed. Where do I buy this barcode online? And needing an hour to get rentals is discouraging.



Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose rental department.
First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yeah! The shop opens at 8:15 and the lifts don’t open until 9:00, so if you get here early, we can generally get you taken care of before the mountain opens.
SAM: OK, so not too busy on Saturday mornings?
Staff: Honestly, it’s tough to tell. Opening weekend wasn’t crazy, but we’ve been getting snow all week so it might be a little more crowded. Are you staying here at the resort? 
SAM: No, I think it would be a day trip.
Staff: OK, because if you are staying at the resort, we can get you set up the night before.
SAM: Oh, OK! Is there anything else I can do or should know to speed things up?
Staff: Yeah, you can make a reservation online and then you would be placed in the express line.
SAM: Alright, great. I will look into that. Thanks!
Staff: Yeah, it’s definitely the way to go. Just head to our website (provides web address) and it’s easy to do. We’ll see you this weekend!
SAM: Sounds good. Thanks.

Score: 9

thumbs upComment: I could feel this guy’s excitement through the phone. He was knowledgeable, required minimal prompting, and asked questions so he could provide the best information for me. A rental shop tech with strong customer service chops. Nice job.

Identity revealed: Ski Fernie