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    Sessions - West      

Please note: sessions and descriptions listed below are subject to change

Tuesday, January 16

12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Utah’s Ski Safety Act:  New Supreme Court Ruling and its Implications for Utah Resorts
During a training run for a ski racing event a few years ago, a minor was injured at a Utah resort when she hit a pile of man-made snow.  The family sued, and the case has been working its way through the Utah courts, all the way up to the Utah Supreme Court.  Now, hot off the presses, the Utah Supreme Court has handed down a significant ruling with an entirely new interpretation of Utah’s Ski Safety Act.  This session—lead by two Utah ASDA attorneys—will examine the facts and allegations of the case, the new ruling, and its implications for how Utah courts will analyze inherent risks under the statute, including risk management considerations, race club programs, and the use of releases and waivers in relation to the competing provisions of the Utah Ski Safety Act.  Patrollers, risk managers, and all department heads of Utah ski areas should attend.

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

NEPA and Process Streamlining
Streamlining is the buzz word in Washington regulatory circles under the new Administration.  The NEPA review process is ripe for streamlining, as both public land resorts and the Forest Service incur significant expense – not to mention time – in navigating the review of ski area improvement projects. This panel of NEPA experts will report on agency/industry efforts to more effectively use NEPA Categorical Exclusions (CEs), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) review, the multiparty agreement for financing and recent improvements in simplifying and streamlining the timber removal process on public land.  Public land ski area managers, operations and planning staff will benefit from this training opportunity.

A Market Breakdown - Understanding Who our Customer Is
Sponsored by Liftopia
Businesses live and die based on having the right business intelligence and making good decisions. The right research and analysis only improves the quality of the decision-making process. As the economic environment becomes more volatile and the evolving demographics in the U.S. influence our markets, understanding these changes and their impacts becomes more vital. Nate Fristoe, Director of Operations for RRC Associates, will discuss research specific to the Rocky Mountains and American West and provide in-depth analysis of the current market, guest demographics and guest psychographics to deliver the insights necessary for you to make better, more-informed decisions for your business.

Employee Safety & Wellness - OSHA and More
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
Employee safety is an expansive topic, with many elements that are interrelated. For example, wellness programs can influence injury rates and worker’s comp claims. These in turn can influence your relationship and interactions with OSHA, or the appropriate agency in your state. At the end of the day, all of your efforts come back to keeping your employees safe and able to work. This session will explore successful programs and provide insights into successfully managing those times when OSHA gets involved. 

The Elephants in the Room - Finding and Housing Staff
For many areas finding the right staff is a delicate balance between quantity and quality. There’s no questions that it takes a minimum number of people to staff all of the important functions that are needed on a daily basis at an area. However, the dynamic of hiring the wrong person can be more damaging than running lean. The push and pull of finding enough staff and finding the right staff can have your human resources department stressing out all year long. Our panel of HR experts will discuss strategies for recruiting and retaining quality staff and the challenges of housing them.

3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Climate and Sustainability Organizations – Determining the Best Partner for Your Resort
Resorts have so many options when it comes to partnering on climate and sustainability. Citizens Climate Lobby, CERES/BICEP/WWF’s Low Carbon USA and We Are Still In, Protect our Winters (POW), Climate Reality Project, Green Sports Council, Global Reporting Initiative, the Climate Challenge, B-Corp Certification, ISO 14001, Stoke Certified, just to name a few. How do you decide which is the best fit for your resort?  This panel of experts will help resorts assess what each of these groups brings to the table, and how that might match up with your goals in addressing climate and sustainability in your operations.  

Community Outreach - A Solitude Case Study
Every conversion effort requires several key stakeholders or partners. For community-based programs, like the National Winter Sports Education Foundation’s (NWSEF) Salt Lake City program, the partners included the local YMCA, Solitude Mountain Resort, and a host of volunteers. Our panel from each of these entities will discuss the challenges and relationships that makes this successful multi-year program work as it converts kids from the local community into skiers and riders.

 In the Hot Seat – Preparing for Litigation
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
This session will open with an analysis of industry statistics on liability claim trends. Then, using example depositions, the session will highlight the impact of policies, training, investigations, and social media on all area staff. From front line employee to the general manager, how your area addresses these important operational considerations will directly affect the success of any litigation.

Best Practices for Reaching and Influencing Your Target Audiences
The advertising industry is ever changing and there is little room, if any, left for wasted advertising dollars. With the advancements that programmatic media buying brings to the table, you are in a better position to make sure your spending is more effective than ever before. Join our panel discussion on how programmatic media buying uses real time feedback to help improve campaigns quickly and capitalize on marketplace opportunities beyond traditional endemic sites. This means you can more efficiently leverage your data for success and focus on delivering rich media experiences to target niche audiences with high precision & accuracy.

Wednesday, January 17
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

The Modern Workplace & Employment Law - The Issues Facing All Areas
The modern workplace is a different environment than it was 15, 10, and even five years ago. From the changing regulatory priorities to healthcare to minimum wage legislation, ski areas need to be constantly vigilant. Whether the issue is volunteers, sexual harassment, background checks, arbitration clauses, employee first amendment rights and social media implications, transgender employees, and a host of other issues, these issues don’t need to consumer your every working day. Dave Byrd, NSAA’s director of risk & regulatory affairs will share the strategies and resources available to help you handle most every situation.

NSAA's Conversion Cookbook – New Learning and Best Practices  
This session will dig into updates to the new NSAA Conversion Cookbook. First produced in 2001 and updated in 2009, the Cookbook has provided a roadmap of the best practices in conversion. While the core concepts of these best practices have stood the test of time, many areas have improved upon them. The updates in this new version of the Cookbook reflect these innovative improvements and expand upon them. Nate Fristoe, director of operations for RRC, will lead this session outlining the key updates and actions areas can take to drive increases in their trial and conversion efforts.

Spicing up Your Marketing Mix - Using the Right Ingredients
Just like any great recipe, a great marketing campaign requires the right ingredients, in the right amounts. And a good marketing chef can take those basic ingredients of marketing – product, price, place, and promotion – and add some creative twists to make it really sizzle. In this session we’ll share and discuss recipes and ingredients from resorts big and small resorts that you can add to your own recipe box.

Tax Reform - Its Impacts on You
Tax reform is coming in one form or another. With the administrations campaign promise on the line, it’s a sure bet that there will be movement on updating and revising the tax code. What’s less clear are the details about what these changes will be and the corresponding implications for businesses. To provide clarity on what the (proposed) impacts will be, tax attorneys with ski area clients will share their strategies for taking advantage of the reforms and how to handle the negative aspects. This session is a must for private owners and CFO’s.  

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

ATF Inspections, Reporting and Emerging Trends (CLOSED SESSION, ski area personnel and invited participants only)
This session will combine NSAA's traditional Winter Explosives Meeting with an in-depth look at the ATF Inspections process and how resorts can prepare for them.  Bill O'Brien, Peter Schory (NSAA Explosives Committee Chairman) and Geraldine Link will address ongoing efforts to address consistency in the ATF inspection process and emerging topics in the explosives regulatory arena.  The panel will also explain new reporting protocols for unrecovered misfires or duds and updates to the Avalanche Blasting Resource Guide. Snow safety, patrol, and mountain operations personnel are ideally suited for this educational presentation. (RESORT PERSONNEL AND INVITED PARTICIPANTS ONLY)

The Future of Leadership Development: How to Attract, Retain, and Motivate Your Next Generation of Leaders
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 are influencing the attitudes, values, and expectations of your employees and in turn, the ways we should be thinking about developing the next generation of industry leaders. 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 attract, retain and motivate your star employees. Learn how to create simple, yet effective, leadership development programs to ensure your resort has a steady pipeline of promising leaders for the future.

Small Data: Generating Big Results with Simple Data Points
Big data has been sold as the solution for everything from traffic congestion to finding a cure for cancer, but often it's the smaller data points - the ones that are right under our noses rather than hidden within billions of rows of data - that are generating the biggest results for resort marketers and operators. This session will dig into the idea of "small data" to highlight some of these data points, examine why they're so powerful, and share specific examples of how resorts are capitalizing on the opportunities they create to increase marketing performance and guest satisfaction.

#MeToo: HR Considerations in a Post-Weinstein World
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
Sexual harassment happens. While recent headlines have focused on powerful Hollywood and political figures, the reality is sexual harassment can happen in any industry, and the ski industry is no exception. Is your resort vulnerable to a bombshell complaint? This session will delve into anti-harassment policies and training, strategies for developing a culture of respect throughout your organization, and the effects of nondisclosure agreements in this realm. Not just for HR professionals, this session will be appropriate for any and all staff and supervisors.

3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Five Things Areas are Underutilizing or Missing Out On When Attracting New Customers
Attracting and motivating beginners requires a different mindset and strategies than what is used with current skiers and snowboarders. Are you overlooking some simple and logical tactics that can help you gain new and loyal customers? Are you focusing on current customers at the risk of cultivating new ones? This interactive session will dissect and explore five cost-effective action steps that are often underutilized yet crucial for success including Planning in Advance; Using PR and Partnerships Effectively; Visuals and Terminology; Customer Service Targeted to Beginners and Follow Up.

Food and Beverage - The Secret Ingredient to Customer Satisfaction
Food & Beverage is typically the second largest source of revenues for ski resorts. Unfortunately, it is the least satisfying experience skiers and riders have. Based on guest feedback collected during the 2016/17 season at 65 ski resorts and areas, this session will explore the reasons for the low satisfaction, identify which guest segments represent the greatest opportunity for improvement and examine the importance of food & beverage to guests’ overall satisfaction and loyalty.  Food & beverage experts will weigh in on what steps they have taken to enhance the dining experience at their resorts.

Challenges for the Marketing Department:  Compliance and Risk Considerations
This session—specifically for marketing and sales folks—will involve a broad discussion regarding federal and state compliance and statutory issues impacting these departments. Complex issues like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (increasingly used by plaintiffs’ attorneys to sue businesses, including ski areas), credit card transaction issues, ADA website compliance, consumer and employee data security, and seemingly simple, everyday actions like season pass sales all increase exposures for resorts. Come prepared with your questions and be ready for a healthy back and forth with our panel.

Measuring Your Terrain Parks Financial Success
Sponsored by 1Risk
Over the years, terrain parks have evolved from a resort experiment to a carefully managed, guest expected amenity offered by ski areas of all sizes. As metrics related to terrain parks have become easier to measure, the expectations resort operators hold terrain park managers accountable for have evolved as well. Variables such as snowmaking, man power, machine time, maintenance, risk management, park traffic, pass sales, and media exposure are considered when measuring the success of a terrain park program. Our panel of resort personnel will dive into how they are defining success and evaluating the ROI of their parks.