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Do we need more skiers/boarders?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
On the passion thread, someone remarked that if people don't catch the passion for snow sports, that's okay, because that leaves more of the hill for the rest of us. Another person on another forum said that he thinks our mountains are crowded enough, but he wishes more of them would take lessons. Do you agree with them, or do you think that the snow sports industry should work harder on marketing our sports to newcomers? If you were the head of the marketing department at your ski area, what would you do to a) get more people to take lessons, and/or b) get more newcomers to try our sports?
post #2 of 8
One reason for crowding on slopes by a declining number of skiers is the declining number of slopes available. There were twice as many ski resorts operating in the country a dozen years ago than there are now.
post #3 of 8
The number of first-timers that we (the Ski Industry) are able to convert into everyday skiers is very small. This low "Conversion Rate", as its being called, will be the focus of the Canadian Ski Industry this season. I know my (very) little local hill (surrounding population base of about 0.5 million people) is taking a step back and looking at facility floor-plans, snow school _packages_, etc. this season in hopes of retaining a much larger number of one-off visits. More skiers means more money, which hopefully get invested back into the hill.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
I watched some Warren Miller movies last night (that desperate!), which took us to Steamboat, where I spent a season in the '80s. I remember going to this ski area that never saw a day of traffic, Stagecoach. It was pure Twilight Zone: a base area that looked like Virginia City replicated, chairlifts, nice fall-line runs, aspen groves, etc. They even had good snow. Around here there are a number of dead ski areas with funny names like Beef Trail. There are two areas, Teton Pass and Bear Paw, that some years have an on operator and some years lie fallow, like crop rotation. Even venerable Steamboat, "Ski Town USA," is on the ropes these days. This industry is not doing well, folks. We have a stake in it. How will WE respond? With callow remarks, "It just leaves more for me!"? Sorry, it just leaves less for US.

I don't worry, my classes have a wait list. My ski area is nonprofit, community-owned, and has a passionate town behind it (Bozeman). But I worry about your ski area, because I really don't want the population to get too concentrated at the dwindling number of financially sound areas. We might develop lift lines on weekdays.
post #5 of 8
The fewer skiers the better, as far as I am concerned. I would particularly like to see fewer social skiers (as opposed to skier-athletes). Of course, this is just the view of someone who is in it for the skiing. The industry is not in it for the quality of the experience, it is in it for $$$ so naturally it has a different opinion. Growth that occurs from mass-marketing pushes is bad for the sport.
post #6 of 8
I think more skiers/riders is good. The places they crowd up aren't the places I choose to have my fun on in my free time anyway. Putting some work into the beginner environments, skier/rider traffic patterns, overall more attention to beginner experiences would do a lot to convert people and alleviate some of the crowding issues. Over history, improvements have been targeted at the already 'converted' and now the converted population is in decline. We need to put $ into keeping some of the people who try it for the first time. I don't really think we are talking about increasing visits. We are talking about MAINTAINING visits. If we increase conversion, all we do is balance against the losses. In the long run it equals some growth, but the models I have seen represent sustainable growth. Area operators need to shift from an operational paradigm to a service/sales paradigm. So many have all the lodges and lifts they will ever need. Shuffling services around to create more user friendly environments for the different experiences guests desire will change those experiences for the better for EVERYONE. It's not as easy as putting up a lodge, some lifts and flipping the switch anymore. and it isn't about areas being in competition with each other anymore either. Some areas get it. Some don't. We need more people, and more areas to get it.
post #7 of 8
I think more skiers/boarders might be good for the industry, but to keep them away from the good terrain and snow they should mark certain lifts as 'expert only' or 'proceed at own risk' etc... to scare away all the side-slippers.
post #8 of 8
You're going to see a lot more boarders this year, what with that new boarding movie coming out.
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