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Same Old Song and Dance? The Latest Hits from the Beltway

Featuring: Jack Ferguson, President, Jack Ferguson & Associates, D.C.;
Andy Spielman, Partner, Hogan Lovells, CO

The 2012 elections appeared to bring little change to Washington. President Obama stayed in the White House for a second term, Republicans continue to control the House, and Democrats continue to control the Senate. What does this power structure in Washington hold in store going forward? Two top-notch DC insiders, Jack Ferguson of Jack Ferguson & Associates and Andy Spielman of Hogan Lovells, will share their insights on what the ski industry can expect over the next four years from both the Administration and Congress. This behind the scenes look at energy and climate policy, natural resources, immigration, taxes, healthcare implementation and other pressing legislative and regulatory topics will greatly benefit ski area management in attendance.

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Branded Social Video: The Snowsports Marketers' Newest Tool

Featuring: Danielle Kristmanson, Partner/Creative Director, Origin Design + Communication, Canada;
Marie Josée (M.J.) Legault, Partner/Strategic Planning Director, Origin Design + Communication, Canada

As online marketing matures, ski area marketers are constantly looking for ways to amp up their social channels and use content to engage their customers more effectively. Video has emerged as the tool of choice, and how marketers are using it is evolving quickly. Its use on websites has been trumped by its use in pre-roll and rich media advertising and now the exciting opportunities for social video are giving ski areas new ways to expand their reach and relevancy, as well as connect with the customers in even better ways. Join Origin Design + Communications principals Danielle Kristmanson and M.J. Legault as they present the evolution and opportunities of social video and present some exciting case studies from the outdoor industry.

The session will explore these key questions:

  • How is social video changing the marketing landscape?
  • How is it used to amplify existing marketing messages through social sharing?
  • How, where, and when to use and seed it?
  • How can ski areas make it a part of their own marketing mix – even with limited budgets?

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Punching Social Media in the Face

Featuring: George Mitchell, Co-Founder & CTO, Circos Brand Karma, CA

If embracing social media is the last thing that you’re excited about, this session will allow you to go on the offensive. Maybe you’re skeptical about the ROI, maybe you’ve gotten your feet wet but are still looking for a comprehensive strategy, or maybe you’re too overwhelmed and want to know where to get started. Arm yourself with the answers to the following questions:

  • Who is successfully leveraging social marketing and how are they doing it?
  • What KPIs are most relevant and meaningful to measure and prove success for social initiatives?
  • Why is the ski industry a perfect match for social?
  • Where can I go to find tools, services and technologies to help me embrace social?
  • When is too late to get started? 

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“Brand” New: Brand Optimization through Best-In-Class Resort Facilities and Service

Featuring: Claire Humber, Resort Planning & Design Director, SE Group, VT;
John Ashworth, Principal, Bull Stockwell Allen;
Benny Abruzzo, President, Ski Santa Fe

Your marketing departments work hard to create a niche – your “brand” – within your competitive marketplace, allowing your customers to make decisions based on their perceived experience at your resort. Expectations are established long before they come to your resort, but do we deliver? The guest experience is a sum of your resort’s parts – recreation, scenic beauty, attractive buildings and landscape, restaurants, and the service we provide – unified and made unique by the consistent reinforcement of your brand. Using innovative examples from across the country, this panel will present “best in class” facilities and practices which deliver superior service and a unique experience, and ultimately, a more competitive brand for resorts.

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Grassroots Initiatives That Bring New People to the Slopes

Featuring: Rick Kahl, Moderator, Editor, Ski Area Management, CO;
Judy Gray, Producer, Ski Dazzle, LA;
Heidi Ettlinger, PSIA Team Member and Heavenly Ski School, CA;
Tom Meyers, Director of Marketing, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, MA;
Talia L. Freeman, Director of Marketing and Sales, Beech Mountain Resort, NC;
Jon Rucker, Vice President  Winter Sports,  HEAD USA

How is an evolving U.S. population going to challenge the U.S. snow sports industry? The percentage of Caucasians is shrinking while the population of Hispanics, Asians, and African-Americans is expanding and the physically challenged are looking for more ways to recreate. Find out what some colleagues are doing to attract evolving demographics and how can Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month/Bring a Friend play a role in harnessing a population (and a generation) that has no idea what a yodel is – but they do know about Twitter. Join us for this provocative conversation!

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Season Overview: Key Statistics and Trends from the Kottke Study

Featuring: Dave Belin, Director of Consulting Services, RRC Associates, CO

An overview of the 2012/13 season, the Kottke End of Season Analysis session will cover the most important topics and issues facing mountain resorts today. The seminar will include numbers on visitor demographics, visitation frequency, summer activities, lesson participation, and financial statistics. All statistics will be presented both nationally and regionally, making the results useful for snowsports managers from different parts of the country. This session will provide resort personnel with invaluable information heading in to the 2013/14 season.

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Snow, Blow, Grass & Coke: Environmental Dangers in the Ski Industry

Featuring: Harry L. Haroutunian MD, Author & Physician Director, Betty Ford Center, CA

Industry veteran and nationally renowned lecturer on the disease of addiction, Dr Harry Haroutunian will take the audience on an enlightening, and sometimes frightening journey through the history of addiction and its implications. Speaking about a topic he knows well through his personal experience and current position as Physicians Director at the renowned Betty Ford Center, Dr. Harry will speak about the disease of addiction, the history of drug abuse in ski towns and the true cost of addiction to your company. This will be a fun and informative session designed to educate ski industry professionals on the current state of affairs and how we got to where we are today. Dr Harry will also offer some solutions for your staff, family or loved ones impacted by the disease of addiction.

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Advances in Technology and its Expanding Role in Risk Management

Featuring: Jerri Tranquilli, Senior Vice President, Alpine Shield Resort Insurance Services;
Dave Byrd, Director of Risk Management, NSAA

The technological revolution promises to be boon for risk management programs at ski areas, and the innovations run the gamut from geo-location devices, electronic incident investigations, tablets technology, drones / remote sensing, and motion-sensing video systems. We will assess their pros and cons – from both a cost and legal standpoint – and debate the changing role of technology in mountain operations and risk management.

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FAQs: The Top 10 Unresolved Issues Facing our Industry on Health Care Reform

Featuring: Liliana Salazar, Employee Benefits Compliance Practice Co-Leader, Wells Fargo Insurance

We have polled the ski industry’s HR folks and CFOs about their burning, unresolved questions and quandaries related to health care reform and the 2014 deadline for the employee mandate, and compiled the most frequent issues and questions specific to our industry. Chances are, your questions are likely on this list, and if not, an issue may be raised that you had not considered. With the recent and constant release of new regulations, we will be prepared for the most up-to-date answers and strategies based on this industry survey, tailored to industry operations.

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Assessing the Risk on Special Events: Real Life Stories and Lessons Learned

Featuring: Patrick Kelly, Partner, Wilson Elser
Steven Parminter, Partner, Wilson Elser
Tim Hendrickson, Senior Vice President, Willis MountainGuard
Jimmy Lawrence, Senior Vice President, Willis MountainGuard

As ski areas increase and diversify their event offerings at resorts, the potential risk exposures grow as well. Whether it’s high-profile adventure competitions, live music concerts, beer and wine festivals, big air events, end-of-season blow outs, or the latest spring break enticements, there is a surprising amount of room for things to go wayward for the host resort. Two outstanding attorneys and members of the Association of Ski Defense Attorneys (ASDA) representing Southern California resorts – where special events are at the forefront – examine a series of events at resorts around the country resulting in poorly planned and unexpected consequences and the steps to prevent or minimize these consequences in the future.

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Maximizing Profitability and Guest Satisfaction in your Existing Rental Operations

Featuring: Paul Mutch, Moderator, Principal, Craniologie Services, CO
Steve Hanft, Vice President, Snow Summit Mountain Resort, CA
Scott Clarkson, VP Sales & Marketing, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, CO
Hardy Merrill, Chief Administrative Officer, Sugarbush, VT


Rental operations continue to provide both an important revenue stream, and guest touch point, for ski areas. Maximizing rental profitability, revenues AND guest satisfaction, however, requires understanding key rental metrics and best practices, capital considerations, competitive landscape (both online and locally) and overall resort priorities. Our panel of experts will discuss their successful efforts to improve the ROI on their existing rental operations, increasing their market share, while also focusing on aligning the rental experience with the Resort brand.

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Strategies for Growth: Snowboarding’s Future

Featuring: Jeff Boliba, Moderator, VP Global Resorts, Burton Snowboards, VT;
Joe Hession, VP & Experience manager, Hession Design;
Kelly Davis, Director of Research, SnowSports Industries of America;
Shawn Seward, Director of Sports and Competition, ESPN, CA;
Brad Steward, President, Bonfire/Salomon/Nikita, OR;
Jessica Richitelli, Terrain Park Manager, Squaw Valley, CA

As the sport of snowboarding evolves, we have asked some of the sport’s most influential players to address how the industry can collaborate to help the sport continue to flourish. From retail and rental opportunities, progression parks, events, the learning experience and media exposure, and cultural and demographic challenges – especially women – it’s clearly in the best interest of snowsport areas to identify and adopt strategies for promoting growth in snowboarding. From resort personnel on the front lines of the sport, to the manufacturers’ perspective, and the role of the media, our panel will candidly weighs the challenges – and frankly debate the best strategies – for the growing the sport.

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Capitalizing on Your Bed Base: Rent-by-Owner, and Other Forces at Play

Featuring: Ralf Garrison, Moderator, Managing Partner, MTRiP, CO;
Christine O’Donnell, President, Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, CO;
Stan Cope, President, Gemini Resort Management, CO;
Colleen Reardon, Marketing Director, Deer Valley, UT 

This round-table workshop will tackle the forces at play on resort bed base utilization, featuring an assessment of the rent-by-owner market, arguably a gray area in the equation, as a growing opportunity for resorts who need places for their lift tickets to sleep. Participating panelists provide views from both rent-by-owner and ski-company owned management companies, all focused on helping attendees understand how to maximize bed base utilization, activity ticket bundling, and the resulting guest experience.

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Forging a Positive Future

Featuring: Michael Berry, President, NSAA, CO;
Nate Fristoe, Director, RRC Associates, CO

Over the past fifteen seasons we’ve weathered unprecedented demographic changes, a great recession, the rising prominence of global warming, and the emergence of national health and lifestyle trends that are not compatible with our sport. In the face of those challenges we have not only survived, but have experienced some record seasons. But what does the next decade have in store for us? Are the good times over? Are we relegated to a flat line future of no growth and ever escalating market share wars? In this session we will explore the macro-trends that have the most potential to limit growth in the immediate future, as well as the trends with the most potential to boost participation. We will also explore how utilization of NSAA’s formidable research library can assist the individual resort operator in effective performance benchmarking and strategic decision making based on data-driven insights.

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Learning from the Leaders: Keys to Increasing Participation and Conversion

Featuring: Nate Fristoe, Moderator, Director, RRC Associates, CO;
Chris Diamond, President and COO, Steamboat Ski and Resort, CO;
Steve Rice, Managing Director, Ski/Mountain Lifestyle and Lodging, CNL Financial Group, FL;
Joel Martinez, VP Operations, Stevens Pass, WA 

It is all about increasing participation and conversion. We’ve known that for a while now but collectively have done relatively little to move the bar for either metric. In this panel discussion we’ll be hearing from three industry leaders with their unique perspectives on what holds us back, what moves us forward, and where we need to lean in to successfully capture a new generation of skiers and riders.

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Resorts in the Crosshairs: Litigation and Legal Update

Featuring: Mark Petrozzi, AlpenRisk, Moderator
John Fagan, Partner, Duane Morris, California; 
Maryjo Falcone, Partner, Rietz Law Firm, Colorado; 
Steve Zweig, Partner, Damon Morey, New York;
Pat Kelly, Partner, Wilson Elser, CA

This season has seen some sensational press scrutiny (much of it shockingly inaccurate and grossly misleading), stemming in part from significant lawsuits and efforts to change ski safety statutes across the country. Our panel of outstanding ASDA attorneys from across the country will focus in on a small handful of impactful cases and issues currently affecting the industry – lift safety, releases, uphill traffic, to name a few – allowing our esteemed panel to devote extra time to focus in on these key issues and trends in the industry. (CLOSED SESSION: Resort Personnel Only)

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SnowSports Industry Innovation Power Hour

Featuring: Robert Tucker, Moderator, President, Innovation Resource Group, CA;
Rob McSkimming, VP Business Development, Whistler Blackcomb, BC;
Eric Simon, VP and General Manager of Urban Ski Areas, Vail Resorts, CO;
Steve Wright, VP Marketing, Sales, and Hospitality, Jay Peak Resort, VT

As the resort industry experiences an unprecedented period of transformation, we have invited a cross-section of industry thought leaders who are pushing the envelope on novel ideas revolutionizing resort business development, financing, operational culture, and concept-to-implementation processes that improve performance and, ultimately, the resort’s bottom line. In this fresh format, Robert Tucker, our keynote speaker and head of the Innovation Resource Center, will moderate and intensely examine the forces of innovations at work at our panelists’ resorts, drawing out key insights – as well as the substance underlying their unconventional approaches to their resort operations – and, ideally, as inspiration for the broader industry.

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