What a difference a year makes.
First of all, I can’t believe it’s been a year since we were sweltering in spring 2018, and in the wake of those dry weather conditions, experienced the 416 Fire and the subsequent mudslides. And now we’re blanketed in beautiful snow into May, enabling Purgatory to remain open to a record late date. Who would have thunk it? How green is everything?
But don’t sit back and relax. We haven’t fully recovered from 2018, and indeed, the sales and lodgers tax reports that were just released showed we’re down from last year’s numbers all across the board. We’ll rebound economically like we always have, BUT we all can make it happen more quickly and smoothly.
The Chamber of Commerce is not the Tourism Office, and our members aren’t necessarily tasked with getting people to visit Durango. And some of you Chamber members might even say, “Well, I’m in manufacturing,” or “I’m a dentist ... tourists don’t matter to my bottom line.”
Remember the adage, “A rising tide floats all boats.” If our economy is strong, then all of us enjoy a better livelihood. Welcome our tourists. Yes, sometimes they saunter slowly down the Main Avenue sidewalk and we have to maneuver around them when we’re running late to a meeting. But they’re sauntering and strolling because they are enjoying Durango. I would dare to say that there was a time that many of you were new, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed visitors who fell in love with Durango and did exactly the same thing.
Let’s help them have the time of their lives in Durango.
Tourists are often lost. You know you’ve seen it: people standing on a corner trying to figure out where they are. The chamber financially helps support the Business Improvement District’s Ambassador program, but the Ambassadors can’t be on every corner every day. If you see visitors who “have the look” (and truth be told, we can recognize them), ask if you can assist them.
Parking meters – our visitors are continually confounded by our parking meters. If you notice anyone trying to figure out the “system,” please stop and offer to help. Also, please let them know the hours when the meters need plugged. The city might like it that visitors feed the meters into the evening, but I can guarantee you that our visitors will appreciate you telling them the hours. And if they don’t have a quarter to plug a meter ... a quarter is worth thousands in kudos and memories of how great the people are in Durango.
Invite friends and family to visit this wonderful community. Let people know about all the recreational activities – and even our new lake.
I suppose we can say this every year – it’s “weather” in the Rocky Mountains. We never quite know what Mother Nature is going to hand us. But what we do know is the resiliency of our natural environment, and of the people and businesses in this community.
Fingers crossed for a great summer season for all, and remember, customer service is what you do when no one is watching.
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.