I arrived home yesterday evening with my extrovert tank empty but heart full from seeing old friends and putting new names to faces.
Between content and events and networking, in 72 hours I can learn more about our market, meet more peers in the industry, and get more ideas than I can in months and months trying to do all of the above from my desk. I get so many bits of insight and unique perspective in rapid succession.
As I sifted through all of these thoughts, four things kept coming to mind.
Among the first things that cropped up was the challenge of retaining ski resort marketing talent. We ask folks to make between a lower paying job at the resort in exchange for the mountain lifestyle and selling a product they believe in. But the tradeoffs can be steep. I heard from a few people who weren’t quite deep enough to be lifers and, even as they were recharging their batteries in Savannah, seemed to be on the edge of staying or leaving for a higher paying job in the city.
It’s a tough business and this challenge is nothing new, but I was surprised to see this vibe crop up as often as it did.
Maybe the actual registration numbers don’t agree, but this year I saw more marketers from midsized resorts than I had in a while. I ran into Talia from Beech and Tony from Mission Ridge and Rachel from Shawnee Mountain and Kate from Windham and Dash from Holiday Valley and Austin from Bogus and there were more who I didn’t get the chance to say hi to. A few were there in hopes to win awards but it sounds like some were there on Mountain Foundation scholarships.
Either way, it was fantastic to see. More “marketing” titles on the attendee list this year makes it easier for NSAA to justify doing more marketing sessions next year.
I’d known about a couple resorts considering a name change, but in the session with Snowriver, Saskadena Six, and Palisades Tahoe discussing their rebrands, Adrienne from NSAA asked if anyone in the audience was considering a name change and I was surprised how many in the group raised their hands.
Granted, resorts would be more likely to come to this if they were considering it, but the fact that so many are was interesting.
On Tuesday we learned that the industry had smashed the all time visitation record, tallying up 64.7 million skier visits during the 2022/23 season. But, man, I can’t help but think that if we’re going to elevate one big number, it should maybe be a different one. This feeling is nothing new, but it was heightened in a year when we’re celebrating something where the biggest factor was something totally out of our control: the weather.
Listen, I’m no Dave Belin, but I’ve done enough correlations between things like guest satisfaction and Net Promoter Score and return rates to wonder if there’s…just…I dunno…I better way to normalize or measure our collective performance.
And with that, after three days of non-stop human interaction, I’m going outside and not talking to anyone for an hour or two. :)
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