Tuesday, January 30
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
A Market Breakdown - Understanding Who our Customer Is
Dave Belin, Director of Consulting, RRC Associates
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.
Tax Reform - Its Impacts on You
Steven A. Julian, CPA, Gallagher, Flynn & Co., LLP
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.
Don’t Fire Your Food & Beverage Director - They Could be the Secret Ingredient to Customer Satisfaction
Moderated by Jeni Batte, Director of Consumer Insights, Guest Research, Inc.
Jim Bronson, Regional Vice President, Centerplate
Tim Emerson, Food and Beverage Director, Wachusett Mountain, MA
Michael Greenstein, Executive Chef, Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center, PA
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.
The Elephants in the Room - Finding and Housing Staff
Annemarie Todd, Director of Human Resources, Sugarbush Resort, VT
Thorin Magbie, Human Resources Director, Mount Snow Resort, VT
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.
Best Practices for Reaching and Influencing Your Target Audiences
Moderated by Jen Roe, Director of Sales & Business Development, FiveFifty
Dru Brooks, Director of Sales & Marketing, Camelback Resort, PA
Dave Kulis, VP of Sales & Marketing, Okemo, VT
Thad Quimby, Marketing Director, Mount Snow Resort, VT
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.
Employee Safety & Wellness - OSHA and More
Ryan Patrick, Program Manager, Safehold Special Risk, Inc.
Tim Bruce, Loss Control, Safehold Special Risk, Inc.
Greg Goddard, General Manager, Gunstock Mountain Resort
Peter Koch, Safety Management Specialist, MEMIC
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.
Building a New Community Program - A Case Study
Constance Beverley, Executive Director, National Winter Sports Education Foundation
Dave Beckwith, Golf & Snow Sports Director, Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC
Katherine Rockwell MacLauchlan, Manager, Pico Snow Sports, Competitions, Child Care, Killington Resort | Pico Mountain, VT
Rob Megnin, Director Sales, Marketing, Reservations and Snowsports, Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC
For years, ski clubs and community-oriented programs brought kids to the snow, teaching them to ski and/ or ride, and creating a natural pipeline of skiers and riders. Over time, the costs and challenges to operating these programs have forced many of these privately run programs out of business, leaving areas to try and fill this gap. Working with the National Winter Sports Education Foundation’s (NWSEF), Killington is looking to reinvent one of these programs, engaging the community and finding ways to overcome the hurdles to growing participants.
If You Build It, They Will Come: Mount Snow’s Snowmaking Upgrades
Dave Moulton, Mountain Operations Director, Mount Snow Resort, VT
Brendan Ryan, Project Manager & Snowmaking Engineer, Mount Snow Resort, VT
After years of planning and permitting, Mount Snow completed a $30 million upgrade to its snowmaking system; including a 120 million gallon storage impoundment, three new state-of-the-art pumping facilities, and more than 18 miles of new distribution and replacement pipeline. The system has nearly doubled the mountain’s capacity and speed of opening terrain, allowing them to better compete during early-season and quickly resurface after melt-freeze events. Staff involved with the project will walk you through the process and explain how the system was designed and built. What worked well, and what issues arose during construction. A tour of facilities will follow on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday, January 31
9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Climate and Sustainability Organizations – Determining the Best Partner for Your Resort Geraldine Link, Director of Public Policy, National Ski Areas Association
Margo Wade, Director of Planning, Sugarbush, VT
Roger Kuhns, Citizens’ Climate Lobby
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.
Measuring Your Terrain Parks Financial Success
Moderated by Mike Bettera, SnowPark Technologies
Joel Rerko, Mountain Operations Manager, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, PA
Elia Hamilton, VP of Terrain Development, Peak Resorts
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.
The Modern Workplace & Employment Law - The Issues Facing All Areas
Moderated by Dave Byrd, Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs, NSAA
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 consume 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.
10:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
NSAA’s Conversion Cookbook - New Learning and Best Practices
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
Earl Saline, Director of Education Programming, NSAA
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. Dave Belin, consulting services director for RRC, will lead this session outlining the key updates and actions areas can take to drive increases in their trial and conversion efforts.
The Future of Leadership Development: How to Attract, Retain, and Motivate Your Next Generation of Leaders
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 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
Gregg Blanchard, VP of Marketing, Inntopia
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.
In the Hot Seat – An Analysis of Summer Incidents
Jesse Whitcomb, Claims Specialist, 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.
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Spicing up Your Marketing Sauce - Using the Right Ingredients
Dave Gibson, Propeller Media Works
Tom Horrocks, Marketing Communications Manager, SnoCountry
Halley O’Brien, Halley O’Brien Productions
Hugh Reynolds, VP, Marketing & Sales, Snow Operating
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 big and small resorts that you can add to your own recipe box.
Five Things Areas are Underutilizing or Missing Out On When Attracting New Customers
Mary Jo Tarallo, Executive Director, Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month/Bring a Friend
Ben Hall, Marketing Manager, Ragged Mountain Resort, NH
Scott Hannah, President, Guest Research, Inc.
Jessyca Keeler, Executive Director, Ski New Hampshire
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.
Challenges for the Marketing Department: Compliance and Risk Considerations
Moderated by Dave Byrd, Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs, NSAA
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.
#MeToo: HR Considerations in a Post-Weinstein World
Laura Moriarty, Tahoe Training Partners, CA
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.