Sessions Event Words 2


 ** Please note: Sessions, times, and speakers are subject to change.**

Friday, May 4, 2018

10:00 am - 11:15 am

NSAA’s Kottke End of Season Survey: Insights and Analysis
Dave Belin, Director of Consulting Services, RRC Associates

There is a lot of discussion about data everywhere you look - its importance, its value (figuratively and financially), and its use as a business tool. The 2017-18 season marks the 39th year for NSAA's Kottke End of Season Survey measuring and tracking the area metrics most important to understanding emerging trends in the industry. When you talk about value, the Kottke is one of the pillars of NSAA research providing credible business intelligence to help areas make thoughtful strategic decisions. Dave Belin, Director of Consulting Services for RRC, will summarize the preliminary results and provide an analysis of the past season, giving you insights you can't get anywhere else.

Race & Competition Litigation and Risk Management Update
Moderated by Thomas Aicher, Principal, Cleary, Shahi & Aicher
Andrew H. Maass, Member, Ryan Smith & Carbine, LTD
Jay Scambio, President & General Manager, Loon Mountain Resort, NH
Kim Viergiver, The Rietz Law Firm

While sanctioned races and competitions may drive visits and revenue, poor risk management certainly can undermine or completely undo the growth rationale. In the past few years, there have been a number of claims brought as a result of competition and race events. This panel will explore some of those cases, and address what resorts can do to better protect themselves and minimize the risk in such incidents—from understanding sanctioning agreements, competitor education, improved releases and waivers, and operational considerations while working with event organizers. The lessons from such incidents apply across all resort departments, even beyond the competition and race context.

The Past, Present, and Future Leisure Traveler
Kirsten Motley, Manager, Research Sales & Support, Phocuswright

It is important to understand where we’ve been, in order to understand where we are going. In this session we will explore topics like traveler motivations, behaviors, and attitudes; as well as how technology is rapidly changing traveler expectations and how the shared economy impacts the way we think about travel. We will divulge what companies can do to keep up, stay relevant, and how to capture the attention of a multi-gadget, multi-screen, and multi-generational audience.

Expanding the Mountain Playground: Providing More Opportunities for Your Guests
Moderated by Ray Lauenstein, Aquatic Development Group
Ken Ellis, Co-Owner, Camelback Resort, PA
Tyler Fairbank, CEO, The Fairbank Group, LLC
Kenny Hess, General Manager, Massanutten Resort, VA
Mike Russo, Risk/Safety/Legal Sr. Manager, Copper Mountain Resort, CO

Ski resort guests are increasingly more demanding and looking for a wide variety of options in activities and amusements to keep them entertained. No longer satisfied with skiing only, the modern visitor (or their friends and family) want to ice skate, ride a zip line or mountain coaster, hang out in a water park, or ride a fat tire bike. Exploring the variety of area offerings, this panel of area personnel will share their experiences, lessons learned, and the importance of finding the right offerings for your resort.


1:45 pm - 3:00 pm

The Future of Growth: A Conversation
Moderated by Nate Fristoe, Managing Director, RRC Associates
Kelly Pawlak, President, National Ski Areas Association
David Perry, President & COO, Alterra Mountain Group
Teddy Schiavoni, Chairman of the Board of Directors, National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association

There are many different programs out there that promote the growth of skiing and riding. Each plays a role in this growth, whether by generating awareness, creating opportunity, driving increased participation, or focusing in on lifelong conversion. Each of these activities provides value and no one program can do all of these things well. This session will discuss the importance of each of these activities, highlight how they work together, and where your area can fit in.

Leverage Your Power For Climate Solutions
Matthew Banks, Associate Director, Industry & Large Corporations, Navigant’s Energy Practice

Frustrated about lack of progress on climate change? Want to help your state meet its goals of increasing renewable energy sourced-power? Here’s a look at what is trending in resort action to decarbonize the power grid. Resorts are innovatively engaging with utilities and State PUCs -- leveraging their influence as businesses and energy users – to bring about far reaching impacts. Working collaboratively with utilities to green the power supply can benefit the resort, the service area, or even the entire state - thereby supporting our country’s much needed shift to a clean energy economy. Navigant’s Matt Banks will highlight resort work with utilities and PUCs that can serve as a model for more ski industry action in this arena. Learn how you can be effective in boosting your power company’s energy portfolio to be 50% or even 100 % carbon free in the future.

It Starts at The Top: Building a Culture of Safety
Moderated by William J. Curtis, Senior Vice President, National Sales, Resort & Recreation, Safehold Special Risk
Amber Broadaway, Risk Manager, Sugarbush Resort, VT
Alan Henceroth, Chief Operating Officer & Vice President, Arapahoe Basin, CO
Rick Schmitz, President, Nordic Mountain, WI
Win Smith, President, Sugarbush Resort, VT

It may sound cliché, but safety really does start at the top. Areas that have separated themselves from the pack are reducing the frequency and severity of employee injuries, the length of time away, and the costs of these injuries to the employee and business. Much more than fighting to reduce your workers compensation costs through rules and regulations, effective area safety programs promote trained, healthy employees and healthy work environments - which are proven to reduce costs. To get buy-in across all departments and at all levels requires an invested leadership team that lives and breathes safety. Our panel of area general managers and presidents will share their experiences and learning in developing a culture of safety throughout their organizations.

The Secret Life of E-Commerce Data: What the Data Tells Us
Moderated by Evan Reece, Founder, Liftopia

Hidden in all your data is a gold mine of information about your customers, your operation, and clues to how and why they choose your area over another. For many, this treasure trove is untapped with unrealized potential for growing your business, revenues, and market share. Digging into the details of how to leverage this information, Evan Reece, CEO of Liftopia, and a small, select panel of area marketers will explore how to tease out the particular details that will lead you to the pricing, product, and marketing changes that will grow your business.


3:15 pm - 4:30 pm

The HR Implications of Tax Reform
Laura Moriarty, Principal, Tahoe Training Partners & Partner/Co-Founder for Resort HR Partners 
Scott Smith, President of Compass HR Designs & Partner/Co-Founder for Resort HR Partners

The climate and landscape for businesses have evolved, highlighted by new tax reform, laying new foundations that may affect resort pay polices and decision making. For many areas, recent tax reforms may provide opportunities for improvement throughout the operation, including compensation issues that have compounded over the years. In this follow up to the 2015 annual meeting session and NSAA Journal article "Compensation: Remaining Competitive in a Sea of Wage Pressures", this session will present resort successes, continued opportunities, general manager testimonials and suggestions to help you plan, communicate, and manage what is your single greatest business expense, the investment in your people.

The Hottest Legal Trend:  Summer Activities Litigation & Claims in the Hot Seat 
Moderated by Dave Byrd, Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs, National Ski Areas Association
Jimmy Lawrence, Loss Control Consultant, UT
Sam McNulty, Managing Partner, Hueston McNulty, NJ 
Mistica Walker, Specialty Claims Adjuster, Safehold Special Risk
Mary Jo Zweig, Cheroutes Zweig Law Firm
Ironically, the hottest trend in litigation against ski areas is the wide variety of non-skiing claims involving summer activities. Without the protection of ski safety statutes, to mitigate risks ski areas must emphasize employee training, following manufacturer’s manuals, capturing releases, signage, and other safety and risk protocols. In this session, we will use the prism of employee depositions in a simulated lawsuit involving summer activities, and we will highlight—using actual recent cases—the risks and pitfalls that could and have impacted claims. With our panel of insurance and ASDA counsel (Association of Ski Defense Attorneys), we will also provide some recent case updates on summer claims to give a better understanding of this hot trend in litigation, with a particular emphasis on releases and waivers. Even if your resort does not have summer activities, these take-aways apply to any activity, summer or winter.

The NSAA Model for Growth & Beginner Conversion Cookbook: Strategies and Real Life Examples that Drive More Skiers and Riders
Moderated by Dave Belin, Director of Consulting Services, RRC Associates
Nick Herrin, Chief Executive Officer, Professional Ski Instructors of America – American Association of Snowboard Instructors
Eric Lipton, Managing Director, Snow Operating
Hugh Reynolds, VP, Marketing & Sales, Snow Operating

Working through the strategies and examples provided in the Cookbook, our small panel of experts will give you tangible actions you can take back to your area and implement next season. Following a new skier or rider’s journey from first thinking about getting on snow to their first purchase, the NSAA Cookbook lays out how your area can improve the conversion and retention rates for every new participant, in lessons or not.


Saturday, May 5, 2018

10:00 am - 11:15 am

The Changing Landscape of Managing the National Forests 
Daniel J. Jiron, Under Secretary for Natural Resources & Environment, USDA
Dan Jiron serves as the Acting USDA Deputy 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, Dan 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 under new leadership. He will highlight the benefits anticipated from implementation of the “fire funding fix” as well as NEPA and process streamlining for the recreation sector. Mr. Jiron has also served as the Associate Chief of the Forest Service and over the last 30 years has served in a myriad of leadership positions including Regional Forester, Deputy Regional Forester, and Forest Supervisor, and has developed tremendous appreciation for the ski industry-USFS partnership as a result of these roles. All public land resort owners and operators should attend this informative session.

NSAA’s Demographic Study: A Window into the Future
Nate Fristoe, Director of Operations, RRC Associates

The NSAA Demographic study is an important tool in every areas efforts to understand their current customers and attract new ones. Beyond a simple overview of this critical research, Nate Fristoe, Managing Director for RRC, will dive deeper into the background data providing analysis of emerging trends, particularly focusing on a more diverse young adult population, women, and young families. This session is a must attend as your area works to remain competitive bringing in new skiers and riders.

Blockchain: What You Need to Know
Paul Brody, Principal, Global Innovation Leader, Blockchain, EY

Everywhere you look, technology is impacting how business gets done. One of the technologies that is increasingly in the media is Blockchain. The blockchain technology is what enables a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, to work the way it’s designed to. However, that’s not all blockchain is useful for. Whether it’s financial transactions, smart contracts, identity verification, or inventory management, blockchain technology is becoming widely used in a variety of industries, including the hospitality industry. Think of this technology like a secure communication thread between and within an organization(s). Paul Brody, Principal, Global Innovation Leader, Blockchain with EY, will share the essential information you need to know about the blockchain technology and how it will impact your operations, sooner than later.


1:15 pm - 2:30 pm

Embracing Community Programs: How and Why These Diverse Areas are Investing in Bringing Kids to the Snow
Moderated by Constance Beverley, Chief Executive Officer, National Winter Sports Education Foundation
Kim Mayhew, General Manager, Solitude Mountain Resort, UT 
Bobby Murphy, Vice President and General Manager, Stowe Mountain Resort, VT
Chip Seamans, President & General Manager, Windham Mountain Resort, NY

Community programs come in all shapes and sizes. Just as unique are the challenges that must be overcome for the programs to be successful. Between transportation, chaperones, equipment, tickets, and lessons, the issues are real for the group and for the area that they are working with. Not to be deterred, each of the areas represented on this panel, have figured out how to make these programs work - for themselves and for the kids they serve. The panel will discuss why these programs are valuable and what it’s taken to get them off the ground and growing. Across the board, these areas are taking the long view, investing 3time and resources now to actively develop future generations of skiers and riders from their local and regional communities.

Preparing for Change: Planning for an Unknown Future
Moderated by Claire Humber, Director of Resort Planning & Design, SE Group
John Ashworth, Principal, Bull, Stockwell, Allen
Trevor Crist, CEO, Inntopia

With changing expectations and evolving demands on facilities and infrastructure, areas are spending valuable capital on building to meet a future demand that may not have even been thought of yet. Gone are the days of being able to build or plan for a single purpose. That new bike trail? How will it impact the ski run expansion into that area? That new kiosk at the bottom of Lift 4? Will the power and water be sufficient when that changes from a pre-made, grab-and-go spot to a hot dog stand and then a curry shop? Can that kid’s ski school expansion become a yoga studio during the summer months? Taking the time during the planning process to consider different scenarios and future needs can save you valuable resources when the unexpected demands of fickle customers force you to evolve.

Learning to Thrive: How 3 Resorts are Using Omni-Channel Marketing to Grow Year Round
Moderated by Scott Buelter, President, Ascent360
Tom Meyers, Director of Marketing, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, MA
Molly Holmes, Director of CRM, Alterra Mountain Group
Dave Tragethon, Executive Director of Marketing & Sales, Mt Hood Meadows, OR

Growing your business means more than just bringing your loyal customers back each year, it requires a steady stream of new customers. This panel discussion will explore how resorts are using an omni-channel marketing strategy to not only reach their current customers with a stronger, more personalized message but to also expand and reach a new audience. From digital to direct mail, these resorts are using innovative ideas and strategies to engage and excite a new crowd.

Challenging Traditional Risk Management and Incident Response Norms (CLOSED SESSION: Resort Personnel Only)
Moderated by Ron Cohen, Deputy General Counsel|SVP, Alterra Mountain Group
Mark Brownlie, President & COO, Mammoth Mountain, CA
Cindy Dady, Manager, Health & Safety, Mammoth Mountain, CA

When an incident occurs at your resort, does your risk management team put most of their emphasis on preparing to defend the resort in litigation? Has this resulted in unnecessary conflict with your injured guest, their family, or their skiing friends? The panel of area personnel will host a lively discussion about how their best practices challenge the norms of traditional post-accident ski area risk management practices, and why a different approach which shows care for their guests ultimately reduces costly litigation and bolsters their legal defenses.


2:45 pm - 4:00 pm

Ski Industry Legal Update: Recent Cases, Rulings, and Lessons Learned (CLOSED SESSION: Resort Personnel Only)
Moderated by Thomas Aicher, Principal, Cleary, Shahi & Aicher
Mary Bozack, Vice President of Claims & Loss Control, MountainGuard
John Fagan, Partner, Duane Morris LLP
Peter Rietz, The Rietz Law Firm
Steve Zweig, Cheroutes Zweig Law Firm

Our panel of esteemed insurance professionals and ASDA lawyers (Association of Ski Defense Attorneys) will analyze and breakdown several key cases across the country from the past couple of years involving litigation against ski areas. This session will focus on the allegations, the legal rulings, and the key take-aways for all ski areas. We’ll analyze a wide variety of trends in claims—summer activities, premises incidents, releases, collisions, and so on—and highlight the risk reduction protocols ski areas can adopt to mitigate and prevent claims. This remarkable panel includes the last three special counsels representing NSAA, with decades of expertise and knowledge, so plan for a robust and heated discussion from the very best in the industry!

The Future of Leadership: Strategies to Develop, Engage and Retain the Leaders of Tomorrow
Dr. Mark Gasta, Principal, Associate Professor, Masters of Tourism Management, Colorado State University
Natalie Ooi, Assistant Professor, Program Director - Ski Area Management Program (SKAMP), Colorado State University

The ski industry is experiencing change like never before: new technology and digital capabilities; increasing sophistication and competition; market consolidation; retirement of senior leaders; globalization; and the growing complexity of the operating environment, particularly in the face of climate change. This is accompanied by generational shifts and the management challenges that go along with these. All of these factors mean that the way we develop, engage, and retain our leaders of tomorrow needs to change to ensure that our future leaders have the necessary knowledge, skills, and capacity to be effective senior managers. Join Mark Gasta and Natalie Ooi from Colorado State University’s Ski Area Management Program as they talk about current trends in leadership development and provide insight and examples as to how you can best develop, engage and retain your leaders of tomorrow in what is an increasingly complex and uncertain operating environment.

Evaluating Your Resort Research: Are you Getting What you Really Want?
Moderated by Christian Knapp, Chief Marketing Officer, Aspen Skiing Company
Dave Amirault, Marketing Director, Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, UT
Sean Mirus, Sales and Marketing Director, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, ID
Matt Peterson, Vice President Brand & Marketing, Boreal Mountain Resort | Woodward Tahoe | Soda Springs, CA

Research and surveys are important tools in every operator and every marketer’s toolkit. Without it, how do you know if you are delivering the expected experience or even attracting your target market? Thoughtful assessment of your research each year should tell you whether you are actually getting what you set out to get and whether this is really what you need or want. Way beyond the traditional exit survey and kiosk, you might be surprised at what you can learn from overlooked sources. This panel of resort personnel will share their experiences - the successes and failures - that have helped them become some of the best in the business.