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Skier Retention - Page 2

post #31 of 78
Stop and think about the cost for specialized clothing, gloves, goggles, footwear, etc., etc.; that first timers encounter for each member of the family. ....It can be really expensive once you add that to rentals, lessons, lift tickets, meals, transportation, housing, and incidental entertainment!
post #32 of 78
What the heck do you need to go to Colorado from Pittsburgh to learn to ski for. Ya got snow, ya got hills, ya got winter clothes. Git out there.
post #33 of 78
I really hope that the Ski Industry isn't trying to get a first timer to go on a $2500 ski vacation.

That's like getting a first time golfer to fly 2000 miles and take a week's vacation to learn to golf.

It's hard enough to get a first time skier to drive 50 miles to a small hill and spend $80 per person. But this is where the future begins.
post #34 of 78
I can't imagine a family of "never evers" would plan a week long ski trip to the West. That's just insane. So the $2500 talk is ridiculous, IMO.

One thing that has come up in a few other posts is problems with rental euqipment. This is something that could definitely be improved. Rental shops shouldn't try to shuttle the first-timers through the same process as everyone else. They need more hand-holding. Also, with the technology available today it seems like a manufacturer could easily design a soft boot that is very comfortable and easy to put on. Beginners aren't going to need much performance from their boot, so it would be best to start them out with something comfortable.

[ October 31, 2003, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: SkiKing ]
post #35 of 78
You're right about the week long trip, but many are encouraged to try a 3 or 4 day trip. For a family of four, 3 or 4 days can add up to a really nice tab; even if they opt to drive themselves a thousand miles or so. Here are some numbers that scrape the bottom for a 1500 mile ski vacation of 3 ski days.

We're cheap, so we will drive:

1. four days travel: - gasoline - $100, 2 nights motels - $160, 4 days meals - ~$300. (I said this family is cheap!)

2. three days skiing: - lift tickets(4 x $170) - $680, lodging for 4 nights - $500, rentals (4 x 60) - $240, 2 morning lessons each - $280, meals - $300, incidentals - $200.

If I added correctly, that adds up to $2760 dollars, and our group of budget minded first timers had to buy their clothing, goggles, gloves, etc., before they started this excercise. For those who live outside the mountainous areas of the country, this is reality,,, and people wonder why budget conscious families opt for other forms of vacation!

P.S. - I actually thought the number would be a little lower on fixed trip expenses. I was just shooting in the dark!
post #36 of 78
Quote:
Originally posted by PVnRT:
I really hope that the Ski Industry isn't trying to get a first timer to go on a $2500 ski vacation.

That's like getting a first time golfer to fly 2000 miles and take a week's vacation to learn to golf.

It's hard enough to get a first time skier to drive 50 miles to a small hill and spend $80 per person. But this is where the future begins.
Let's get serious, not first timers, but beginner & intermediates. This is what they have to look forward to and it's not helping. Many families look at these numbers and say forget it, find something less expensive for our kids to do.
post #37 of 78
I know that as "never evers" we would not have paid big $ on a Western ski trip to give skiing a try. We were able to give it a go for not much dough. I can hardly imagine a middle class family spending $2k+ to try the sport. And we didn't go out and buy ski cloths, gogles, etc. Now ski vacations are very attractive to us and we've invested a bit in equipment. But the costs of ski travel definately deter people from ever trying the sport.
post #38 of 78
New York actually has a special "first time skier" program that gets a new skier or boarder, rentals, lift ticket and lessons all for about $20. Almost every ski area in N.Y. accepts the program and the State kicks back $$$ to the ski areas for the program. This assures that the first time skier "should" have a "positive" experience in hopes that they will return to enjoy the sport we all love, adding to the economy.

Holiday Valley where I used to work, has been big in this program over the years and actually, it works. I can't believe other States like Colorado and Utah wouldn't support a similar program, or maybe it hasn't occured to them to try it.
post #39 of 78
This is a very good discussion.

By Ski King:
Quote:
I can't imagine a family of "never evers" would plan a week long ski trip to the West. That's just insane. So the $2500 talk is ridiculous, IMO.
Although this may sound strange, I know of people that do just that. There is a certain sense of romance and adventure about skiing that results in people taking expensive trips to destination resorts.

It is easy to fantasize breathing cool, crisp mountain air while gracefully descending a mountain trail down to the lodge where one can enjoy an Irish coffee around a roaring fire at the end of the day and so on. Unfortunately, this fantasy quickly evaporates when it confronts the harsh reality of painful boots, the counter-intuitive aspects of skiing, crowded, noisy cafeterias, and tired sore muscles at the end of the day.

I agree that local smaller resorts may be able to play the largest role in recruiting and retaining skiers. Lutsen, Minnesota is just one example of a small hill that has produced some excellent skiers.

I aslo agree with many who have noted that boots that are not painful to ski in and lessons that are perceived as a good value are the most important elements that can be improved upon to improve skier retention. Teens and adults want to have fun and not be embarrassed by their first attempts. Children want to have fun and are less concerned about being embarrassed.

Expensive jackets pants, gloves etc. can come later. Scotch-guarded jeans, layering with a wind breaker, inexpensive gloves and so forth have worked for a lot of people for a long time and still do.

As much as the new "soft" boots are maligned, I suspect they have a place in the rental shop where the volume of customers and staff constraints limit the time and expertise many customers receive. Insure that learning is fun and progress is being felt by the new skier instead of just painful boots and retention stats should improve.
post #40 of 78
Couple of observations from somebody who in recent years brought 2 new skiers to the fold.

Yes, LM was new to the fold only a few years ago. And my daughter also learned in recent years, though she's since mostly gone over to the "darkside" - boarding. But hey, that makes her still a snow-sports, lift-ticket-buying user of the same places.

TCarey mentioned the integrated learning center he saw at Mt. Snow, which is their Perfect Turn Discovery Center. Whatever the flaws of ASC's approach, it's still a good concept. It was in part the relatively smooth "Learning Center" integrated building, boot selection, rental, orientation, instruction concept at Mt. Snow (and later at other ASC resorts K-Mart & Sunday River) that got Lisa into sticking with it enough to get hooked. Totally different from her earlier try 10 years before. (Yes, the whole thing on Core Stability in her TPS article was important too, but the organized-customer-service vs. chaos approach was important in retaining a customer the 2nd time around)

Taylormatt said:
"Many families look at these numbers and say forget it, find something less expensive for our kids to do."

Absolutely right - except the "something less expensive for our kids to do" ends up being frickin' DISNEY in too many cases. And so they end up spending more, for a pre-packaged, "experience" which is totally scripted and passive. Run by an entertainment / information conglomerate. That's the real competition - people who buy condos and timeshares at Disney (or the like) instead of in the mountains, people who will think nothing of blowing $5000 for a family of 4 at a theme park, but think that skiing is "too expensive". If they think of skiing at all.

I honestly think the ski/snowboard industry, as an industry not just as individual mountains and resort chains, should be marketing skiing (and boarding) in the mainstream media. Not in ads in Skiing, Ski Canada, Powder, Outside. But in People, Us, Newsweek, BusinessWeek. Not on OLN, but on CNN, on MSNBC, on ABC, on TNT, on family-demographics CBS. I want to see an episode of CSI or JAG or Judging Amy, sponsored by the Ski Industry. (well actually I don't want to see any of those shows, but I want the people who watch those shows to spend money on our sport).

"This year's vacation, make your own memories. Live your own adventure, not some theme park's script. Ski!"

"Got Mountains?"

Damn, if the Cheese Board can get together and "behold the power of cheese" we should be able to come up with a "behold the glory of snow" campaign.

Last point: We need the cheap, local, "entry-level" areas. Nobody pays thousands of dollars to fly cross country to learn golf at Pebble Beach or Palm Desert. They do it at home. As much as I don't get golf, I do get that New England and especially MA has so many golfers who are just regular people, because there are so many open-to-public, local, easily-accessible golf courses, without huge membership prices and gatekeeping. There used to be lots of ski areas like that too, but they're disappearing.

I remember how thrilled I was to be able to do our annual youth group ski trip to Tyrol as our "big" ski trip of the year, compared to 600-foot "Big Blue" just outside of Boston. Luckily Big Blue and some other entry-level areas are still around, but not nearly enough, and there's still a big price increase compared to the 1970-dollar $4 afterschool lift ticket.

We need places where people can try skiing often enough to define themselves as 'skiers', enough so that they'll do the 3-day weekends to K* or Tremblant or Okemo or the Loaf, so they'll consider the week-long family trip to Copper or Whistler or Breck.

I still wanna have some place to ski when I'm 70. And by then my kid should be a rich lawyer who can do right by the old man and set me up with a nice ski home [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #41 of 78
I would be interested to see a profile of the survey's respondent's with both demographic and lifestyle information including their physical state. Maybe some ski instructors on this forum can comment but I have always suspected that when people who are out of shape who have for years not really been active physically in any other kinds of sport that requires balance and coordination try a sport like skiing, that they will have a quite difficult time. Not much of a week of fun that sobers them up to the reality of their being just couch potatoes. This applies to all ages of new skiers though one is more likely to see adults, maybe overweight too, say over 30 or 40 years of age that are making a try of it. They probably go at it the same way they would go to some amusement park for the masses without any serious preparation about what how when why where, expecting the resort or maybe other people to clue them in or teach them when they arrive. Many people today face life's modern challenges too lazy to make any reasonable effort to prepare with information readily available if they would only do so.

As an example of more interesting information versus the digested tidbits in that Summit County report that probably has other agendas in mind:

What are the demographics of new skiers?

So what would be the retention rates of say 25 to 30 year olds that have carved out some kind of lifestyles with stable employment at an urban area within driving distance of western ski areas?

And what would be the retention rates of someone who lives far from ski resorts who is taking a ski vacation instead of the usual one to Honolulu? For those in the same 25 to 30 year age bracket and then for those over 30? -David

[ November 02, 2003, 10:49 AM: Message edited by: dave_SSS ]
post #42 of 78
Quote:
Originally posted by dave_SSS:
Maybe some ski instructors on this forum can comment but I have always suspected that when people who are out of shape who have for years not really been active physically in any other kinds of sport that requires balance and coordination try a sport like skiing, that they will have a quite difficult time.
I have no idea what my "skier retention rate" was from my short stint of teaching, but I've always felt that America's "obesity crisis" has something to do with the lousy retention rate. I'd see a lot of people who would get pretty winded in the course of a 90 minute lesson. Given the standard large never-ever lesson sizes, there's a lot of "just standing around". I have a hard time believing many of them ever returned.

Ironically, the athletically built type probably has a lousy retention rate as well -- way too much power and too little finesse was a bad combination in my experience.

The *best* students I had, bare none, were those who did some sort of aerobic activity. Cyclists, skaters, runners, swimmers -- oh my, they were wonderfull. And I'm betting not many of those types ever bother to head to the slopes. They've found their "thing". I know a lot of cyclists, and most aren't downhill skiers.

Two more cents worth of my rambling thoughts...
post #43 of 78
Kima, the article starts out with the answer to its own question, although the author doesn't quite grasp that fact.

Quote:
The 15 percent skier-return rate translates into hundreds of millions in missed revenue opportunities, especially as the baby boomer market ages. //// Berry said the future of the ski industry is at stake in how well the resorts and related rental shops change the beginner experience for the better. /// Berry spoke Wednesday to about 80 business people at the Breckenridge Resort Chamber annual breakfast at the Main Street Station. ///
"Our industry has done a dismal job of attracting new people to the sport," Berry said.
I have argued long and hard about a simple error in perception... namely, that skiing is an industry or business. That is WRONG, and those who counter my point are equally wrong, I'll wager in advance.

The "business" of skiing is that it is a SERVICE. Like manufacture, service relies on supply and demand flows.

The problem with the American economic model is that it has spent too much time in the aggressive growth phase, and now, in order to remain strong, Americans are cajoled into buying more than they need, and most times, more than they truly want (deep down, if pressed for practical utility of "collectible" items).

Service jobs depend on a need for the service. The need NEVER should be trumped up, fabricated or forged. If some people do not or might need the service, then the service job must take that factor into consideration.

Ski areas owned by big corporations are hit hardest by the problens inherent in trying to ride the waves of aggressive consumerism. However, in a trend-oriented society (another artifact of aggressive economic policy/Madison Avenue compliance), trends are necessarily a factor.

Ski areas should NOT expand beyond what is their core clientele, unless the core clientele are interested in it and are willing to pay for it. That's smart business management. And, it's why the current mega-Corporate ski area owner/operator businesses are living on borrowed time. The implosion is not far off -- and especially if we allow our current POTUS reelection in Nov 2004.

...thus sayeth the gruff anti-profit... errr, aaahhh... anti-prophet

: [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] :
post #44 of 78
Good topic:

I work in a rental/demo shop near a mountain. Most, if not all of our business, comes from the casual skiing family. People who are lesiure skiers with kids, skiing perhaps 1-5 days per year. These people have money (the resort where we are located contains at least 500 high-end homes for nightly rental at about $250-500 per night). But, skiing isn't there primary form of recreation-it is a way to get out of the city, on a vacation with their kids for the week. We try to take good care of these people with good service and bootfitting, advice on where and how to ski, what to do as a beginner, ect. Well, like the article implied, it works! Our shop has 3 competitors within a 3 minute walk, all of which have been around at least 15 years (we have been here only 7) and yet, our market share has increased each year. This is while the overall visits to our local mountain are down 20% from 7 years ago. The people who work here are nice and knowledgeable. We don't have the "I'm a bad-ass" guys with attitudes working here-that doesn't fly with beginners, or anyone for that matter. Most people, when returning gear, are very complimentary of the service and advice given them. The people who come back complaining usually had a bad experience up at the mountain, usually due to a blizzard or bad lesson given to them by a member of their group (not surprising).

Ironically, we depend on the casual and never-ever skier to make our business run-not just for expansion of our business, but for survival. There aren't enough dedicated skiers anymore to cater to in this area. We have trouble selling skis these days-who wants to put down $700 for a ski/binding package when they ski 5 days per year and can demo for $28? We are already seeing that baby-boomer drop in skiers-they aren't being replaced with a core clientele of younger people. There is a shrinking pie of changing demographics these days.

For our shop to survive, service has to be excellent for 2 reasons:
1) shrinking number of skiers means less skiers spending money-therefore retail establishments are going out of business. To reel in those new clients, our staff has to be helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. Luckily some of the other shops help us out by employing guys with attitudes, so we gain some business there.
2) the focus of the article: retaining new skiers. If a family has a good time at our resort, they are likely coming back next year (Bachelor being the only game in town). If we treat the new guys right, and they have a great time, then we are ensuring our survival when we see them year after year (also likely to see them in the summer, renting bicycles).

In closing, I would venture to say, as others have in this thread, that not only is growth in the sport dependent on improvement of the skier retention rate, but the mere survival of skiing in America, as we know it, will require a whole new generation of skiers to know the joy skiing on a bluebird day, or enjoying face shots during a whiteout. In order to do this, industry members have to lose the indifference and attitiude toward first-timers, as those newbies aren't banging down the doors to ski shops anymore.
post #45 of 78
Isn't skiing a sport? And like all sports doesn't it take dedication and practice to get good at it? This article is making skiing out to be a product, when it is not and never will be. Trying to give the consumer an immediate positive experience will never happen because the experience depends on the person doing the skiing not the equipment under their feet.
post #46 of 78
Quote:
Originally posted by dave_SSS:
This applies to all ages of new skiers though one is more likely to see adults, maybe overweight too, say over 30 or 40 years of age that are making a try of it.
-David
Interesting and prophetic.

Today I taught the only lesson we had this (opening) weekend at Copper. A middle-aged, overweight male beginner with borrowed rear entry boots (at least they were the right size) and 180cm 9 year old skis. Thank God they had the wisdom (?) to get the bindings adjusted although I'm not sure why a shop did the adjustments.

But in 2 and 1/2 hours we got him gliding, balancing and starting to make an elementary turn. Luckily the beginners area was almost deserted so we could work laterally instead of vertically.

The great thing is he has already bought a season pass and will be back! And on more suitable equipment!!! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #47 of 78
I got my start in downhill from a program our middle school had. Once a week they sent a bus full of us to the local hill. Our rental and lessons were included in a cheap package. Once we got to the hill we were fitted for boots with the aid of the instructors, got skis and went out to the hill. It was required that you have a lesson for the first hour or so, then the rest of the night you could ski wherever you desired. I don't know if this still continues, but it was a great idea. Our parents didn't have to take care of us for the night, we got transportation to the hill and had fun. It worked out for everyone.

I think if more schools and hills could colaborate on a similar program the retention rate will slowly rise over the years. Get the kids interested, they will bring their parents into the sport and revenue will increase for ski businesses.
post #48 of 78
I got my start in downhill from a program our middle school had. Once a week they sent a bus full of us to the local hill. Our rental and lessons were included in a cheap package. Once we got to the hill we were fitted for boots with the aid of the instructors, got skis and went out to the hill. It was required that you have a lesson for the first hour or so, then the rest of the night you could ski wherever you desired. I don't know if this still continues, but it was a great idea. Our parents didn't have to take care of us for the night, we got transportation to the hill and had fun. It worked out for everyone.

I think if more schools and hills could colaborate on a similar program the retention rate will slowly rise over the years. Get the kids interested, they will bring their parents into the sport and revenue will increase for ski businesses.
post #49 of 78
KevinF, interesting insight about those coming from aerobic sports doing well. They are all activities that have rhythmic motion as does skiing. Maybe the ski industry would be wise to target such groups. I taught a good friend to ski in recent years. (using unconventional methods) Three years ago I introduced skiing to him as he skied just a few days. Then two years ago he got more serious, skied maybe 15 days, bought good gear. He now skis moguls better than most long time skiers and this year will easily get over 25 days in. And he fits your profile. When younger he used to be into cycling, aerobics, dance, and now in his late 30s, its skiing, backpacking, and especially climbing (over 5.10 skills). -Dave

[ November 02, 2003, 08:36 PM: Message edited by: dave_SSS ]
post #50 of 78
Ski and Golf,

Good example to work with. I do hope your student learned a few skills that allowed him to have a good time and accomplish HIS goals. Unlike the comments of some, skiing for the general population is not a sport, but recreation. If instructors at the lower levels focused on the fact that it is all about providing a certain level of enjoyment, rather than a certain level of skill, there might be more people drawn to continuing experiences.

I recall the last lesson I took. I was a very low level intermediate and the instructor was obsessed with teaching us the benefits of learning improved balance by skiing on one ski. I got tired, did a spin and wrenched my knee. I quickly realized that was about the least amount of fun I had ever paid good money to take part in, and haven't opted for lessons since. I think it's possible that a similar experience by many people would have ended all their attempts at downhill sports.

This thread is ripe with good suggestions about how the skiing experience can be improved to increase retention; but what I read in it sounds like there must be plenty of good clean mountain fun, mixed into a hassle free package, if we are going to get people convinced it is worth the gargantuan effort to 'plug in'.

[ November 03, 2003, 03:55 AM: Message edited by: feal ]
post #51 of 78
Quote:
Originally posted by cumerritt:
Isn't skiing a sport? And like all sports doesn't it take dedication and practice to get good at it? This article is making skiing out to be a product, when it is not and never will be. Trying to give the consumer an immediate positive experience will never happen because the experience depends on the person doing the skiing not the equipment under their feet.
Yes, skiing is a sport, and yes, it takes dedication and practice if you're want to get "good" at it. I don't think the problem is that beginners spend a lot of time falling -- it's that the whole experience generally sucks. Think about the general resort experience: you are lost in a massive base area, jammed into ill-fitting boots, your feet hurt because nobody told you to wear only one pair of socks, probably get a lesson from a dis-interested teacher who's only there for the free skiing, and finally you're uncomfortably cold and wet since most people don't know how to appropriately dress for a day in the mountains in winter.

It's the difference between staying at the local fleabag hotel and staying at the Ritz Carlton. One is filled with the "whatever dude" attitude, and the other is filled with "whatever we can do to make it right". Skiing is sadly filled with far too much of the "whatever dude" attitude.

I sometimes head to Killington, an area that on its website advertises people to take multi-day "learn to ski vacations". I always park at Killington's Snowshed parking lot -- which is their beginner area -- and I can say that I have never seen signage that would clearly direct a "never ever" around the veritable city that exists at the base. To be fair, I've never looked for it either, but if it's there, it isn't obvious.

Skiing, as an industry, needs to work on improving the entire experience beginners have before they even set foot on the slopes. Get somebody so that they're having fun from the moment they arrive, and beginners will start to return in greater numbers.
post #52 of 78
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by SkiKing:
I can't imagine a family of "never evers" would plan a week long ski trip to the West. That's just insane. So the $2500 talk is ridiculous, IMO.

SkiKing, you would be surprised at how many never-evers I meet at some of the big resorts in Colorado. They are looking for something new, an adventure. I meet lots of folks from warm climates wanting to see snow, the "fairy tale” atmosphere pictured in the Ski Mags, especially at the Holidays when prices are crazy. It seems to me that these are just the type of people the resorts are trying to attract.

I find it odd that in a service industry the resorts do not attempt to get feedback from their customers. It is rare that I have been given a satisfaction card to fill out. Less so if you do not take a lesson. It would make for interesting reading to see feedback from lesson takers, rental customers, season pass holders, day trippers, lodging customers.

Are there resorts that aggressively try to seek such information?
post #53 of 78
Kima,

I highly doubt they ask for this info. If they did, the rental areas wouldn't be (excuse my french) such a cluster$#&%. [img]smile.gif[/img]

I never really realized how bad the rental areas were until I rented a snowboard last season and tried it. Also, lessons were a little on the lean side. We wanted a lesson which we missed by the time we got through the rental area and it was 3 hours until the next group lesson. We were forced to do a private, which we did and was great (even though snowboarding was NOT), but having group lessons starting more like every hour or hour and a half rather than 2 times a day would be much more convenient. Is it that bad to only have 3-4 people in a group??

If they even polled to season pass holders, at least here in the East where we have prominent night skiing, they would learn that we HATE and I mean HATE when they run every fricking snowblower on the mountain while we are trying to ski after 4-5 PM. This should be left for after the lifts close. I realize there is a need to blow and get every last inch, but come on, a few hours isn't gonna make or break the season. It seems to me that blowing from 11PM to 8 AM should be enough. If they need to blow during the day, blow in a remote area and push the manmade into the needed areas via grooming overnight. This was even the case when last year we received over 100" inches of natural snow over our normal average. They even run them during the day which should be illegal IMHO and an acceptable case for capitol punishment.
post #54 of 78
I just read that last season set a new record for the most ever skier visits with 57.6 million at US resorts. It's not a big growth but it's still growth.
post #55 of 78
once again, I ask...

WHY DO WE NEED "GROWTH"????

are all of you silly lemmings who simply believe the GOP mantra of "grow, grow, grow" ?

what benefit does any one individual skier get from a "growth" in the "ski industry"?

It doesn't help me.

It doesn't help you.

It doesn't help them.

Growth = cancer.
post #56 of 78
Quote:
Originally posted by gonzostrike:
once again, I ask...

WHY DO WE NEED "GROWTH"????

Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just reporting the numbers. I agree with you gonzo. I think the lifts and trails have a few to many people in and on them now. I think the numbers show the ski industry is not as bad as some would like you to think.
post #57 of 78
Growth can be a positive thing. It is a question of focus. I agree that some resorts have moved or are moving in the direction of skiing being offered mostly as an incidental amenity to mountain real estate developments. To the extent that their market focus is aimed at those who can afford to buy a two week per year vacation home for themselves and their progeny such growth can and has produced political divisiveness and community strife and exacerbated environmental concerns even when producing improvements to the skiing terrain.

What I suggest can be a positive good for much of the industry is to broaden the skier population base to focus more on the middle class day skier regardless of age. Admittedly, this may not work well in say Summit County where the I-70 commute to and from Denver can be a nightmarish experience. And it may not be consistent with the cachet that Aspen, Deer Valley, Sun Valley seek to foster.

However, as others have pointed out, introducing the sport to a wider age and economic demographic slice of our population can benefit many resorts. Although some of the smaller areas seem now to be making something of a comeback, there are still far fewer places to ski in the USA than was true 25 years ago.

At the end of the day, growing and broadening the skier base can give more people more choices and the chance to have more fun during the winter months. That is not a bad thing for people or the ski industry. It is also generally heathier than chips and beer in front of ther TV from Thankgiving through April.

[ November 03, 2003, 08:39 PM: Message edited by: Lostboy ]
post #58 of 78
Quote:
Originally posted by gonzostrike:
once again, I ask...

WHY DO WE NEED "GROWTH"????

are all of you silly lemmings who simply believe the GOP mantra of "grow, grow, grow" ?

what benefit does any one individual skier get from a "growth" in the "ski industry"?

It doesn't help me.

It doesn't help you.

It doesn't help them.

Growth = cancer.
Why? Because ski resorts here in the East are closing. They can't make it work against the few mega resorts. In turn, the mega resorts are packed with people. They won't expand terrain and acreage because the NSAA tells them there's no growth, their pockets aren't yet fat enough.

We have a possible mega resort trying to be built in the area and nobody to fight FOR it rather than against it. So we have a few hills left who now charge $50 a day for 275 acres and 750 measly vertical feet. Yeah, we need growth, growth to force opening new terrain and force down lift ticket prices via competition from neighboring dying resorts. You guys out West really have it good.
post #59 of 78
Skier Retention

The best selling point for skiing that I have heard thus far is that skiing contrasts nicely to prefabricated vacation experiences like Disney or Carnival Cruise lines. What draws many to the sport is the never-ending sense of adventure and discovery that we all have in the mountains. This adventure need not come from Heli skiing in Valdez. One can get it skiing at a local mountain during an intense snowstorm. My best experiences are always unexpected: a face shot at Timberline or fog suddenly lifting to reveal a perfect conditions.

Parents need to be encouraged to give their kids the gift of a ski/snowboard adventure even if they themselves do not enjoy or even partake in the sport. My father sucked as a skier but he would take me skiing nearly weekend of the season. Admittedly, I spent many weekends skiing Nashoba Valley and Wachusett Mountain, but occasionally, Dad would take us further a-field to Waterville Valley. Waterville gave my brother and I a small taste of bigger vertical and more challenging terrain. Eventually in college, I began going on college ski trips to Stowe.

In order to survive, the industry needs to encourage parents to behave like my father: i.e. to take their kids skiing even if they themselves don’t really like the sport. The industry then needs to give college students incentives to continue skiing. If you can keep kids skiing through college, you’ve got them hooked for life. Parents/coaches/adult mentors who bring two or more kids to the slopes should ski for free. College students, unaccompanied by parents, need to be given deeper discounts to ski during break periods. Local resorts should not have to foot the bill for all this. The National Ski Areas Association of some of other group should collect funds from areas across North America (yes, that means Canada two: we are one country as far as skiing is concerned), and these funds could be used as a rebates for programs mentioned above. Destination Resorts should pay higher premiums than mom and pop places. Does this sound like a redistribution of wealth in the industry? To a certain degree yes, but everyone stands to benefit handsomely if we can retain a decent base of skiers fort the sport.

The alternative is more consolidation in the industry.
post #60 of 78
There's been some interesting ideas posted here. So here's a few surprises.

$20 intro
The resort I work at (Whitetail, PA) is offering a $19 learn to ski special from opening until 12/23. We also participate in PA learn to ski free day.

Roving instructors
We're going to try it this year. On busy days, we're planning to send out 2 instructors to provide assistance to newbies in need.

Jackets
We encourage pros to go out in their jackets. This year we are encouraging them to ride the lifts with guests instead of their buddies.

Other tidbits:
NSAA model for growth summary
This is where the 15% conversion rate figure come from. The goal is to raise it to 25% (i.e. move it from 1 in 7 to 1 in 4). BTW - one in 4 should provide enough selection to keep the quality of the participants at a high level. The main idea is to achieve this by improving the overall experience. In other words: fix the things that suck. And that should improve the experience for ALL of us. It's going to take time, but the industry is VERY focused on doing this. The full model for growth is only available to NSAA members. It goes into extensive detail about demographics, where the problems are and how some fixes can be made. The short answer on demographics is that skiing is a young person "white" sport (pun intended - but meaning lower rates of participation across all minorities). Participation rates start dropping after 25 year olds start having families and then get worried about old age frailties. SERVICE is a big huge giant humongous part of the model for growth. BTW - NSAA says the industry has enough excess lift capacity to support a 25% increase in skier visits (but midweek skiing is a big factor here). The bottom line on why the industry needs to grow is that looking forward at the competing leisure alternatives and the changing demographics, the ski industry is headed for a big huge drop in participants if nothing is changed. A shocking stat: skier participation in Japan has dropped 40% since it's peak.

Self taught skiers
NSAA stats estimate less than one in ten new skiers attempt the sport without a professional lesson. This is not viewed as a significant reason for the low conversion rate. It seems strange, but the numbers work out that there are bigger issues.

Gravitically challenged first timers
Last year I pulled a heavy set gentleman out of a first time class for some one on one assistance. Through gentle assurances, timely breaks and judicious task assignment on gentle terrain I had him on the lift about 5 minutes behind his initial group and back down at the bottom about 10 minutes ahead of his shocked kids. There's nothing that inherently prevents slight to moderate overweight people from learning to ski. They just need to go at a slower pace and get extra encouragement. People with severe balance issues are teachable, but better taught in private lessons. If we can teach handicapped people to ski in all kinds of contraptions, we can teach anyone.

Rentals
I knew how bad rentals were, but did not know they could get worse until I worked a rental desk alone until the regular staff could get in on a heavy snow day. Nonetheless, I'd like to see ski instructors help out rentals during peak periods.
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