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    Sessions - West      

Please note: sessions listed below are subject to change

Tuesday, January 17
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

ADA Scenarios and Ski Resorts: Applying the ADA to the Unique World of Ski Area Operations
Dave Byrd, Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs, NSAA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a challenging federal statute with innumerable nuances and gray areas. This session will analyze a handful of unique circumstances (based on actual incidents) facing ski areas—both in the winter and summer context—and how resorts should analyze their duties and obligations under the ADA, as well as the impact on their guests with disabilities. From resort infrastructure, race clubs, ski school lessons, zip lines, concerts, special events, and a wide range of other circumstances, the ADA touches so many aspects of our resort operations. To minimize the risk of lawsuits or complaints, and reducing the risk of offending your guests and their families, having the benefit of understanding key distinctions in the law and the regulations, this session will be extremely helpful to all management at ski areas.

Communication Best Practices - Giving Your Staff the Tools to Talk About Climate Change
Moderated by Geraldine Link, NSAA
Climate change is a hot topic, not only in the media, but also with our resort guests and other stakeholders. Increasingly, front line staff finds themselves engaged with guests on this topic. Participation in the Climate Challenge, investments in operational sustainability and advocacy efforts on climate all present resort personnel with great opportunities to discuss how resorts, and guests, can be part of the solution. The most forward thinking areas are proactively arming their front line staff with the tools to engage guests in this discussion and share a consistent and solution-oriented message. Our panelists will share their experiences and successful practices for training their employees and successfully making climate change a part of everyday conversation.

Resorts Reaching Out - Attracting and Retaining Future Participants
It's a fact that kids are important to the sustainability of the industry. As participants now and in the future, the lifetime value to the industry is far greater than someone coming in as an adult. Our panel of industry experts and resort personnel will dig into their programs and share the innovative and sometimes non-traditional strategies and tactics proving to increase participation with the youngest crowd. Whether this is taking the mountain to the community or into the schools, these programs set a new bar for engagement.

Modern Incident Investigation - Tools of the Trade
Mark Petrozzi, Principal, AlpenRisk Safety Advisors, LLC
Brian Brill, Forensic Animation Specialist, Mountain Graphix
Technology is ubiquitous and has changed virtually every aspect of resort operations. Even in the sometimes relatively low-tech realm of risk management, technology is changing the way the work is done. From laser tape measures to cell phone apps, to 3-D computer modeling, incident investigation specifically is benefitting from modern tools that are not only speeding up the process of documenting incidents but increasing the quality, consistency, and credibility of reporting. Our risk management experts will dive into the new tools of the trade available and provide direction on where, when, and how to use them to your advantage.

3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Learn to Ski and Snowboard / Bring a Friend Bootcamp session
Mary Jo Tarallo, Executive Director, Learn To Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend
Nearly everyone in the snow sports industry recognizes the importance of generating new customers. How we accomplish this is subject to many variables. Converting newcomers to “life-timers” is a journey for everyone involved in the process – resorts and consumers alike. This LSS(M)/Bring a Friend Boot Camp will address the important questions of ‘Who,' ‘What,' ‘Why,' ‘When,' and ‘How,' while digging into the cost-efficient and effective solutions this industry initiative offers to areas of all size. Are you REALLY using the LSS(M)/BAF initiative to the fullest? Find out during this lively conversation.

Premise Liability: Much More than Slip and Fall
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
Moderated by Mistica Walker, Specialty Claims Adjuster, Safehold Special Risk
Resorts across the country are seeing a steady increase in slips, trips, and other non-ski and summer related incidents stemming from non-skiing activities. These incidents are resulting in a corresponding increase in claims and costly lawsuits. This trend is likely to grow as areas continue evolving into three and four season resorts, expanding their offerings and welcome a widening variety of guests. This session will explore the variations of laws that may apply to these incidents and how your resort can be proactive before an incident happens. Other challenges discussed will include employee awareness/execution, relationships with manufacturers, releases, and incident investigations.

Wednesday, January 18
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Media Relations - Maximizing Your Reach and Exposure with PR
John Brice, Principal, Snow Sports PR
PR, or public relations, is one of the under-utilized tools available to resort marketers. John Brice, snowsports PR specialist, will explore how positive editorial coverage in traditional news media can translate into increased revenues at ski areas, review what news media your current and potential customers consume, and how to get your ski area featured in these media channels. Examples of successful ski area media relations will be showcased and dissected to help you understand how these stories came to be printed, broadcast and posted so you can do the same. We'll look at media relations fundamentals, proven story ideas, the value of "PR Partners," media monitoring and sharing, and "7 Steps to Positive Editorial Coverage".

Employee Health Initiatives - Strategies for Reducing Employee Injuries
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
With a variety of programs and equipment being touted as successfully reducing injuries, how do you know whether to believe their claims or not? Do they actually reduce the number of injuries or do they lower the potential for injuries? Bringing together an industrial engineer, ski area representatives, and even the manufacturers, this session will give you a unique look at data-driven analyses and real-life results. Whether it's reducing knee injuries or reducing fatigue, there's no doubt that areas would like to find ways to reduce work comp claims of all kinds. Come prepared with an open mind and questions to find out if these are viable options for your area.

Our New Core Customers – No M Word Needed
Sponsored by Liftopia
Nate Fristoe, Managing Director, RRC Associates
Millennials and Gen Z currently account for the majority of our business. It is time to stop stereotyping and start embracing the opportunities and challenges these new generations bring to the table. Not only do these groups run the gamut from being just out of high school (age 18) to being fairly established in their careers and family (age 35), they also bring incredible variability in terms of economics, experience, and earning power. Using NSAA's generational research, Nate Fristoe, Managing Director for RRC Associates, will provide insights and suggestions for products and services that will bring these important demographic segments more firmly into snowsports and keep them coming back.

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Managing Millennials - It's a Balancing Act
Laura Moriarty, SPHR, President, Tahoe Training Partners
The Millennial generation has garnered incredible attention over the past few years as they've overtaken the Boomer generation as the largest demographic cohort. Millennials are of prime working age, from age 21 to 36 according to Pew Research Center, working at your areas on the front lines all the way to senior management level. The expectations and aspirations of this group have been shaped by many forces, not the least of which is exposure to way more information than any generation before. As a result, this group requires thoughtful guidance and different management approach than what worked for previous generations. Laura Moriarty and a select group millennials will share the strategies that bring out the best in this critical segment of your workforce and inspire them to stick around, year after year.

Terrain Park Documentation and Data – What to Track & Keep and What to Toss
As terrain parks have become more sophisticated, so have the operation of those parks. Rather than reinvent everything new each year, areas and park managers are developing planning documents such as budgets, maps, Sketch-ups, and schedules using previous year’s information and data. Add to this, in-season operational documents, such as usage data, build, maintenance, inspection, and incident paperwork, and your park could now generate as much material as any other department. So, how do you know what to keep and what to toss each year? Our small panel of park managers and legal experts will discuss the ins and outs of terrain park document and data retention so you can clean out those hard drives and file cabinets.

NSAA's Beginner Conversion Study
Moderated by Rob Linde, RRC Associates, CO
The NSAA Beginner Conversion Study is gathering momentum with more areas participating and increasing numbers of new skiers and riders being surveyed. Join Rob Linde, from RRC Associates, and our panel of area and industry personnel as they discuss lessons learned and how they are using the Study information to make better strategic decisions. This session will dig into the study data to help you further understand what first-time guest’s value and the importance of engagement.

3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Focus on Fun – The Secret Sauce Behind Success
Sponsored by Burton Snowboards
Joe Hession, President, Snow Operating
Scientific research has proven how fun can drive participation in activities. This presentation will discuss the science behind fun and its connection to creating a great lesson experience. Fun can have a variety of meanings and guests will ultimately determine whether their lesson was fun, or not. Learn how to structure a lesson to balance guest’s natural desire for achievement with their desire for steady, rapid progression.

Lift Maintenance Programs - Introducing Quality While Keeping Flexibility
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
As high profile lift incidents have captured the media’s attention, lift maintenance and area lift maintenance programs are coming under ever-greater scrutiny. It’s now more critical than ever that the industry come together around lift maintenance programs and proactively share and develop best practices applicable regardless of resort size, location, inspection protocols, and state-to-state regulation. This session will introduce and provide insight into developing tools to help your area document procedures, design a maintenance program, and transfer the knowledge from senior lift mechanics to a new generation tasked with keeping your lifts up and operating safely.

Putting Safety Front and Center - On Mountain Safety Programs
Safety is paramount on the slopes, there’s no question. When you consider the variety of issues, what works for one area may not exactly work for another. At the same time, it’s a good bet that there are elements of how a program is constructed and implemented that could help you improve your efforts. Featuring NSAA Safety Award winning programs and other creative programs, this session will highlight examples from a variety of on-hill, employee and guest-focused safety programs including terrain park safety, speed and collision awareness, and others.