NPS Blog

Would you recommend your town to a friend? How a ski town uses Net Promoter to grow the tourist trade

Net Promoter System podcastSteamboat Springs, Colorado—the entire town, not just the ski resort—is using the Net Promoter Score to help make itself more customer-friendly.

Yeah. You read that right. A town. We at Bain have a lot of experience helping big companies adopt the Net Promoter System. But a town? That was a new one. So I asked Jim Clark (pictured below right), CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, to tell me all about it on a Net Promoter System podcast. Jim was joined by Rob Perlman (pictured below left), head of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation—a good thing, as it turned out, since the ski company has been using Net Promoter for years and was one of the inspirations for the town’s pathbreaking move.

Jim Clark of Steamboat Springs Resort Chamber Association

The ski company decided to employ Net Promoter for the same reason a lot of companies do: to set the resort apart from competitors. “I’m constantly saying … we all have green trees, blue skies, white snow,” says Rob. “What differentiates our resort from the others? It’s the service we provide, the experiences [our guests] have, the lasting impressions we provide. … That’s what’s going to make people select Steamboat over our competitors, who all have the same stuff.” Feedback from Net Promoter has helped the company create a customer-centric culture, maintaining high levels of service and friendliness among its extensive staff.

But there was a problem. Visitors “don’t differentiate between where the resort stops and the town begins,” as Rob puts it. A customer’s overall experience at Steamboat depends as much on airport personnel, bus drivers, restaurant waitstaff and other service providers as on ski-company employees. Moreover, Steamboat as a community attracts summer visitors as well as winter ones, and the ski company is far less active in the summertime.

So that’s when Jim Clark and his colleagues got the idea. What if the whole town—or at least the Chamber Resort Association’s 832 members—adopted Net Promoter?

Rob Perlman of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation

That’s the effort that is under way now. The association began training local businesses. It also began gathering systematic feedback from visitors, primarily in the summer. Jim would be the first to acknowledge that the system is still in development—for example, many of the responses are anonymous, which makes it impossible for anyone to close the loop when a visitor offers a complaint or a suggestion. But the feedback has already underscored the importance of certain key events in the overall customer experience, such as how a customer is treated at the airport and what happens if there’s a mistake with a reservation.

Most important so far is a sense among local businesses that the culture is changing. According to Jim and Rob, the community has begun to feel that Steamboat Springs is improving on the Western friendliness and great service it has been known for. “There’s a real sense of pride” about Net Promoter, says Jim. “It’s been very much embraced.”

To hear more about how a town can use Net Promoter, listen to my discussion with Jim and Rob on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.

You can also find an article in the New York Times about Steamboat’s great experiment.

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