Lake Louise, December 16, 2010: The question of direct Lobby to Lift ski bus service to Canada’s Favourite Ski Area, Lake Louise, for guests staying in Banff Avenue hotels, appears finally to have been resolved.
The Lake Louise Ski Area has now reached an agreement with several Banff hotels that will effectively reinstate the hotel-to-hotel pickup system that has been in place for 30 years.
Says Charlie Locke, proprietor of The Lake Louise Ski Area, “Reaching an agreement was extremely difficult, because there is a lot of history, and everybody has strong feelings. But I couldn’t give up, because I came to realize that our initial decision was having unintended consequences. Our British tour operators were letting us know, loud and clear, that there was a real risk of irreparably harming the business that all of us depend on and have worked so hard to build over the last 25 years, and this would also irreparably hurt Banff, a community I love. Virtually all other North American ski destinations offer ski-in, ski-out accommodation, however our British guests clearly think that all the advantages Banff and Lake Louise offer trump these other resorts. Further we just can’t afford to let our guests worry that transportation while they are here is going to be a hassle. We also can’t afford to let them think that we aren’t hearing them. I’m very pleased that, in the end, people recognized that making our customers feel valued comes way ahead of our individual opinions.”
Not all stakeholders are “on the bus”, however, and hotel guests going to the other areas will be using the central hub. Locke sees benefits in this: “Having different kinds of services operating this winter will allow everybody to really evaluate what works or doesn’t work for our customers”, he believes. “Some outlying hotels have initiated their own shuttles and that’s also positive.”
Frank Van Rooij, North American Vice President of the pivotal British tour group, Inghams, is clearly pleased that the stalemate has ended, commenting that “Inghams is delighted that the hotel-to-hill ski bus transportation has been re-instated for Lake Louise. Our international guests typically do not have car transport. They were clearly not accepting a hub and spoke operation, and were turning their backs on Banff. We are confident that return to hotel pickup for Lake Louise will have a positive effect on bookings for the remainder of the season.”
The agreement will undoubtedly be hailed as very good news by all Banff businesses and tourism operators, as the recent recession, combined with the various world-wide factors that have impacted tourism over the last few years, have made it very clear that Banff must strive to do everything possible to ensure that more, not fewer, international visitors are persuaded to come here. Banff is unique, yes, but with competition in the vacation/recreation industries skyrocketing, there is a keen awareness that any perception of customer service controversy is to be avoided, and that it is more vital than ever that all publicity be positive.
For further information please contact Charlie Locke at 403-244-4449 or 403-522-3335.