Sessions Event Words 

Tuesday, April 30 

8:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 1

8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


NSAA Research – From Data to Action
Tuesday, April 30, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

NSAA produces incredible, industry-leading research. From visitation to guest insights, this research is a critical business tool available to member areas as you evaluate your success in the local, regional, and national market. In addition, as you plan for the following year, this data can lead you to ideas for products and marketing that may not be readily apparent. While providing a high-level overview and analysis of this year’s research results, Dave Belin, will also give guidance and recommendations for how you can put this valuable data to use at your area. Highlights from the preliminary Kottke End of Season Study, the Beginner Conversion Study, and the National Demographic Study will all be covered in this session.

Build Better Teams and Improve the Guest Experience by Overcoming Unconscious Bias
Tuesday, April 30, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Is it possible that resort leaders and team members unconsciously demonstrate a preference for certain guest and employee demographics, welcoming some and subtly or even overtly discouraging others?  Unconscious bias affects activities from the marketing of our resorts to ensuring that team members are willing and able to deliver on the resort’s brand promise. This session will explore motivated reasoning, and how people make, and sometimes act on, snap judgments driven by social filters and hidden biases without any conscious intention. Learn how to assess your guest demographics and how you recruit, hire, train, and consider team members for promotion. In addition, gain tools to uncover potential conscious or unconscious biases in your resort's public spaces that affect harmony and inclusion.

Return to the Core
Tuesday, April 30, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

For years, our industry has been focused on attracting and retaining new skiers and riders, and taking the “edge" out of our marketing to present our sports as accessible to everyone. Has our pursuit of the masses alienated our core? Why do we think we can do what no other industry would dare—fail to engage its most avid customers? Hear tales from the trenches and learn why engaging our most avid guests may be more important to our businesses than we think. 


Climate Change Solutions: We’re Gonna Need Them All
Tuesday, April 30, 1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to climate change solutions—we’re going to need them all. Here, Mark Reynolds will clarify how the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act works, why we need to support it, and the role this market-based solution has in driving change toward a clean energy economy. Our specialist from the clean energy sector, Zach Starsia from LevelTen Energy, will speak to the seismic shift underway within the US electricity grid, the economics of renewable energy and renewable energy procurement opportunities for ski areas. Jim MacInnes, former electrical power engineer and Crystal Mountain CEO and co-owner, will moderate this session, shaping the discussion towards practical actions resorts can take to help green the grid and support the transformation of our nation’s energy system. Ski area leaders and personnel can’t afford to miss this “dynamic trio” on climate change solutions.

The Intersection of Travel and Technology
Tuesday, April 30, 1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Technology has changed virtually every aspect of our lives - at work, at home, and on the road when we travel. From the 1950’s when electronic storage for airline seat assignments came online to the launch of hotel websites in 1994, most of the so-called advances were operational or amenity based. With the start of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Expedia and Travelocity in 1996, the travel space has been one of the breeding grounds for true innovation and spectacular change in how people research, purchase, and share their travel experiences. Now, in 2019, no one is more at the forefront of where and how technology is driving current and future changes. Traci Mercer, Senior Vice President of Global Lodging, Ground & Sea, for Sabre Travel Network will share insights, strategies, and takeaways for you to better understand, and take advantage of how technology is impacting travel for guests of all ages and incomes. 

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires: A Guide to Ski Area Wildfire Planning and Mitigation 
Tuesday, April 30, 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In recent years, climate change has dramatically increased the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the American west.  This uptick in fire activity comes as many ski areas have expanded their summer operations.  That means that in addition to physical damage inflicted by wildfires, ski areas have to worry about the financial impact of forced closures and evacuations during wildfire season.  This session will address proactive fire prevention efforts—from updating operations plans to selecting insurance coverage—that ski areas can take to develop resiliency to protect their guests, their facilities, and their bottom lines.  We examine the legal framework governing fire mitigation projects on public and private lands, discuss wildfire management strategies that some ski areas have pursued, and conclude with recommendations that ski areas can implement to understand their legal rights and obligations, increase preparedness in the event of a threatened closure, and, ultimately, reduce their wildfire risk.

51 Ways to Increase your Ski Area Food and Beverage Profits Over One Season
Tuesday, April 30, 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The food and beverage operations of your ski area have the distinct opportunity to be one of the key profit components of your business. However, in order for your F&B operations to be profitable, they must first be set up for success. With the rising cost of payroll and vendor services, seasonal limitations, and staff turnover this is not easy task. Setting the foundation of a well-oiled operation by implementing cost saving and profit boosting measures are the focuses of this presentation. Mike’s more than 40 years of F&B industry experience will provide the secrets to operating a successful food and beverage operation that adds increased value to your bottom line.


The Parking Dilemma - Strategies for Being Too Popular
Tuesday, April 30, 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

For years ski areas of all size have struggled with parking - filling up on weekends, overflowing on holidays, and room for a soccer game during the week. What has changed most recently is the increase in traffic to areas that is overwhelming current capacities and how quickly areas are parking out on these high volume days. There’s no lack of different strategies being tried to address these issues. Off-site shuttles, ride sharing, paid parking, and even offering bus passes where mass transit is available are all in use now. Join our panel of area GM’s as they share their challenges and ways in which they are addressing the parking challenge through unique and forward thinking solutions.


Growing Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
Tuesday, April 30, 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The changing demographics of the US population are creating an ever more diverse population, with Gen Z the most racially diverse generation ever. This reality is forcing many in the outdoor space, including the ski industry, to make conscious choices about how they promote getting outside. Groups that form around interests like skiing and riding and other outdoor pursuits are not new. What is changing though is the number of groups focused on diversity – racial and economic – that are successfully introducing an ever- broader mix of people to the great outdoors.


The State of the Industry – Perspectives from Industry Thought Leaders

Wednesday, May 1, 8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Bringing together a diverse panel of resort leaders, this morning keynote session will dive right into the burning industry questions on everyone’s minds. From growth to consolidation; from staffing to season passes; no topic is off limits. Expect frank discussions, edgy stories, words of advice, and personal stories of perseverance, learning, and success. Our moderator, Win Smith, and each of the four panelists – Vail Resorts’ Pat Campbell, Alterra’s Rusty Gregory, Snow Operating’s Joe Hession, and Powdr’s Wade Martin - all bring tremendous experience and knowledge through their time in the industry and their time around the industry. The 2019 NSAA National Convention marks 10 years since the CEO Summit was held at the 2009 Convention. The economic swings at the time forced the industry to look closely at how it would weather the volatility caused by financial crisis. Ten years on, the U.S. has benefited from one the longest bull markets ever, helping to drive overall economic growth and record low unemployment rates. All of these factors and more, have helped sustain our industry and brought numerous challenges – some new and some that we can’t seem to get away from. Join us for this lively discussion and come prepared to hear thoughts, ideas, and perspectives that just might challenge your own.

National Forest Management and the USFS/Ski industry Partnership
Wednesday, May 1, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Jim Hubbard serves as the USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, where he oversees the Forest Service and all 193 million acres that the agency manages for the benefit of present and future generations. In this session, Jim will share his vision of how the Forest Service will meet the challenges of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests. He will highlight the benefits anticipated from NEPA and process streamlining for the recreation sector, the Farm Bill’s Administrative Sites leasing authority, and the implementation of meaningful reforms and forest management tools that will help us better maintain the national forests.   A career public servant, Mr. Hubbard also served as Colorado State Forester, Director of the Office of Wildland Fire Coordination for the U.S. Department of the Interior, and as USFS Deputy Chief for State & Private Forestry. He has developed appreciation for the ski industry-USFS partnership, including its significance to rural communities and its role in shared stewardship. All public land resort owners and operators should attend this informative session.


Vail's Commitment to Zero
Wednesday, May 1, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Vail’s groundbreaking Commitment to Zero is a bold pledge to reach a zero net operating footprint by 2030. Kate Swayne Wilson, Director of Sustainability for Vail Resorts, will highlight elements of Vail’s plan, including a 12-year agreement with Plum Creek Wind which will bring a new wind farm online in 2020, reducing the emissions associated with the company’s FY2019 electricity use by 100 percent; launching a partnership with Eco-Products to help reduce single use conventional plastics and switch to compostable and recycled-content items in all of its North American restaurants at 17 resorts this season; and Vail’s first annual EpicPromise Progress Report detailing the company’s efforts and plans to reach its emissions, waste, and forest and habitat goals.


The Summer Opportunity
Wednesday, May 1, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Mountain resorts in North America have largely been known as “ski resorts”, having generated the vast percentage of their revenues and profits from winter sports. In the past decade, however, more and more ski resorts have realized that they can no longer depend solely on winter, given the impact of global warming, changes in generational uses of leisure time and the decline in skier visits. Many have also identified the need to increase the return on their significant investments in infrastructure by developing summer business. Progress in developing summer revenues, however, has been slow. The Kottke Report for 2017/18 indicates that summer revenues only accounted for 14% of the industry’s annual revenues, essentially even with the three previous years. This session will examine the summer guest experience, comparisons between summer guests’ satisfaction and loyalty to that of winter guests, and differences in guest profiles. We will then hear from a panel of resort experts who will share what they are doing to grow their summer revenues, and the successes and challenges they’ve experienced along the way.


The Industrial Internet of Things – New Technology Changing the Way We Operate 
Wednesday, May 1, 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Everywhere you look technology is connect people and things in more and different ways. The Internet of Things (IoT) is here and will increasingly affect how areas operate. From snowmaking to lifts; from ticket sales to food and beverage; every action and transaction will immediately report in real time allowing area managers to respond and adjust immediately. However, with all of this technology and, in many cases multiple vendors, this creates security headaches and vulnerabilities that were previously unimagined. Join our panel of IT Directors and Network experts to discuss where this technology is already being applied, it’s impact, when & where you can expect the next wave of technology, and how to protect your area and guests.


Supply Chain Greening - Extend Your Sustainability Impacts by Looking Upstream

Wednesday, May 1, 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Most resorts have sustainability initiatives in place, but do they focus upstream from your daily operations to the sustainability impacts of your suppliers?  Your supply chain is a great opportunity to have far-reaching sustainability impacts beyond your own operation, while saving money on streamlined and efficient procurement practices.  Green purchasing guidelines, locally sourcing F&B, purchasing renewable energy from your utility, or even requiring green products from suppliers for your retail operations are all fair game for supply chain greening.  With speakers from Taos Ski Valley, Outdoor Industries Association and the  Supply Chain Management Institute at the University of San Diego this panel will point to examples both inside and outside the ski industry where supply chain greening has helped companies achieve results such as lower carbon emissions, supporting local businesses, reducing waste going to landfills, operational cost savings and more. Takeaways from this session will include sample policies and proven results to help guide your decision-making and get you on your way to supply chain greening.

More than Money: The Future of Ski Industry Compensation
Wednesday, May 1, 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Getting compensation “right” is increasingly important as areas look to attract and retain talent, drive higher levels of performance, and make fair pay decisions. Recognizing the complexity of making these decisions, many operators are saying their long-held methods managing base, benefit and variable pay programs are falling short of “what it takes” to compete. In addition, mandatory state minimum wage increases have created compression and competition from other industries for talent has sparked aggressive and unprecedented change. Incorporating data from the NSAA Wage and Salary Survey, this session will show how our industry compares to other business sectors, highlight select micro-markets, and explore tools and tactics to remain competitive and suggest best practices for success.


The CMO Roundtable - Making the Most of What You Have
Wednesday, May 1, 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

From large areas to small, marketers have to find ways to get the message across. Regardless of the resources you put towards marketing, you still need it to be as effective as possible. Whether you have unlimited resources or a budget in the three digit realm, there are still creative ways to be successful. That said, unlimited resources may not ensure success. Join our roundtable of marketing executives as they explore the challenges they face every day, the issues keeping them up at night, and their solutions for a good night’s sleep.

Beyond Injury Law: Unique Legal Issues Impacting Ski Areas
Wednesday, May 1, 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

As an industry, our ski areas are fairly well-versed in the nuances of torts and ski injury claims. But there are far-reaching and equally impactful legal issues beyond guest injuries impacting all ski areas, particularly with federal law and contracts, no matter what state you are in. From federal statutes that regulate marketing and sales outreach to customers, to employment law issues, the burgeoning growth of arbitration, disability laws, and contractual issues unique to the ski industry are impacting resorts of all size. While these are complicated issues, we want them on your radar and in your vernacular, so you know when to look further into some of these issues affecting our industry. This panel of in-house attorneys, and members of ASDA (Association of Ski Defense Attorneys) will expertly tee up this important conversation.


The Legal Issues Facing our Industry - A Year in Review (CLOSED SESSION: Resort Personnel Only)
Wednesday, May 1, 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Our panel of esteemed ASDA attorneys and insurance specialists will examine some recent claims, court decisions and legal issues impacting ski resorts across the country, with some notable successes that all ski areas should build upon. Challenges remain. Our panel will analyze both successes and defeats, and address operational considerations to minimize legal exposure and mitigate guest injuries—including issues from chairlift incidents, inherent risk statutes, special events, social media, releases and waivers, and the growing challenges of inbounds slides, tree wells, snow immersions, and terrain closures.

ChinaReady - A Case Study on Visit California's Global Ready Program

Wednesday, May 1, 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Visit California China is California’s No. 1 overseas market; in 2018 alone, Chinese travelers accounted for 1.6 million trips and over $3.4 billion in spending, with visitor spending projected to increase another $1.8 billion by 2022. In order to prepare tourism businesses to serve this important market, Visit California launched the Global Ready program, a series of cultural, sales and service trainings that highlights best practices for welcoming Chinese visitors. Since the program’s inception, the Global Ready China seminars have attracted thousands of individuals from all sectors of the travel industry. Amber Rich, director of engagement at Visit California, will share insights and strategies for attracting and serving this valuable market.

The MySnow Experience & More: How ASSQ, Les Sommets & Burton Are Growing Skiing & Snowboarding in Quebec

Wednesday, May 1, 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Demographic trends stress the need to generate new participants for snowsports.  While there are many programs that promote the growth of skiing and snowboarding, conversion rates have not increased as dramatically as desired.  Tennis, hockey and soccer have developed successful initiatives across Canada. Following the success of these programs, Burton, the Quebec Ski Areas Association and the province’s resorts have joined forces to generate greater awareness for skiing and snowboarding, drive increased participation, and focus on lifetime conversion.  With the goal of introducing 50,000 new participants each winter in La Belle Province, the Quebec model is converting as many as 31% of new participants into resort guests. Bringing the mountain to participants might be part of the answer.

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