Top Five Fridays - September 1, 2017 // Ski Industry News
#1: Park City Announces Discontinuation of Volunteer Ski Patrol Program:
Let’s jump right in this week and kick things off with a hotly debated topic. Earlier this week, Park City Resort announced that they're doing away with their volunteer ski patrol unit. While at first glance our reaction was to wince and ask why, it turns out there are actually pretty solid arguments from both sides on this one. From the perspective of Park City, having unpaid, lesser trained ski patrol on the mountain could become a liability if a ski patroller is unable to properly perform their job due to insufficient training for the task at hand. From the ski patrollers themselves, there appears to be a bit of a split opinion. For some ski patrollers, having volunteer ski patrol on the mountain was extremely helpful. Much like a surgeon has a team of assistance, there’ve been times when a lead ski patroller is taking care of an injured skier and volunteers have provided crucial help in the moment. From this perspective, this is an unfortunate decision and there will be ski patrollers (volunteer and paid alike) across North America that will begin to wonder about the future of volunteer ski patrol at their local hill. Yet not everyone feels this way. On the other side of the argument are those who think ski patrollers should be well paid for their role in keeping people safe on the mountain. For those of this mindset, Park City’s decision should prove to be a positive as they’ll have to replace the volunteer workforce with paid positions.
Ultimately, it's a much more interesting and delicate issue than you might assume at first glance, as proven by comments across social media. Honestly, we're unsure of which argument is stronger, but as always we’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below!
#2: President of Ski Vermont, Mr. Parker Riehle, Set to Become CEO of the NSAA:
Speaking of ski resort related positions, congratulations are in order for Vermont’s own Parker Riehle. Currently the President of Ski Vermont, Vermont’s Ski Tourism association, Mr. Riehle accepted an offer this week to become the National Ski Area’s Association’s (NSAA) new CEO. Effective as of December 1, 2017, Parker Riehle will become the head honcho for the group that organizes and promotes 303 ski areas in the United States. More concretely, Riehle will be tasked with overseeing and leading the organization that collects ski industry data, hosts multiple conferences a year for ski resort owners, and whose ultimate goal is to grow the ski industry. In other words, Parker Riehle’s new job is to care more about growing the ski industry than anyone else in the United States.
It’s a big task, but one that both Riehle and his peers believe he’s up for. Having worked at Ski Vermont since 1998 and having been president of the organization since 2006, Mr. Riehle has almost two decades of experience working in the business, and has worked for over a decade as the leader behind one of the nation’s busiest ski states. Prior to working with Ski Vermont, he also head roles in the worlds of law and politics, giving him a unique overview of not just the ski industry, but also the governing bodies that regulate it. So congrats once again to Mr. Parker Riehle, and best of luck in your new venture!
#3: Tiny Home Development Proposed in New Mexico's Red River Ski Community:
Ah yes, once again the issue of ski town real estate arises. While we do our best to not spend too much time discussing the real estate side of ski towns (because let's be honest, we could probably touch on this topic every week), we do like to share news when something different comes along. Such is the case this week as we bring you news of an interesting proposed project in the Red River ski community of Northern New Mexico. Currently in Red River, developers are seeking approval for a tiny home development that they’re calling The Silver Strike. In total, this tiny house development will consist of 35, 600 square foot tiny homes that will be individually owned. There’s a small caveat to ownership of one of these tiny homes though. As an owner, you’ll only be allowed to use the property for 30 days in the winter, and 30 days in the summer. The remaining 305 days (or 306, depending on the year), the tiny homes will be rented to tourists visiting the area. It’s a bit of a quirky model, but it’s the result of a unique zoning requirement in which businesses located in the area must generate either gross receipt tax, or lodger’s tax. In other words, it’s a tourist district in which all businesses should be retail, restaurant, or lodging. By requiring the tiny homes to be rented for a majority of the year, developers should be able to meet the tourism zoning requirements. Of course looking at the bigger picture, this particular model actually could lend itself well to areas where there’s a housing pinch. A ski town like Jackson Hole for instance could benefit from similar housing developments, as those with second homes could be forced to rent them to tourists for a set amount of time. The goal would be to have less vacant homes in an area where residents struggle to find a place to rent. It’s just a theory, to be sure, but one we’ll have in mind as we keep our eye on the process and outcome of this project.
For more information regarding The Silver Strike, take a look at their promotional .PDF here.
#4: Squaw Valley Partners with Chinese Retailer Toread to Tap into Growing Chinese Market:
Finally, let’s cap this week off with what we consider a power play by the good people over at Squaw Valley. This week, it was announced that Squaw Valley will be teaming up with Chinese outdoor retailer Toread to promote the resort in its brick and mortar stores. The goal of this promotion obviously, is to get more Chinese skiers thinking about taking ski vacations to the U.S., and to Squaw Valley in particular. To be sure, this wouldn’t have been much of a power play 15 years ago, as it’s reported that there were only approximately 200,000 skiers in the country in 2000. Since then, thanks in large part to a government sponsored push, that number has blossomed into a 12.5 million person industry as of 2015. This is a number that’s likely to continue growing as well, as Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, and the Chinese government is dead set on growing their winter sports industry in anticipation of the event.
In total, there are plenty of details to dissect regarding the co-promotion itself. Put succinctly, Squaw will play host to a handful of recognizable Chinese media figures who will film short videos at the resort that will then be played back in Toread stores. This campaign, as well as Squaw’s budding relationship with Chinese ski area Genting Resort Secret Garden are part of the resort’s growing focus on tapping into the Chinese market. In fact, Squaw Valley remains so intent on being the U.S. destination for traveling Chinese skiers that they've even setup a China Marketing division. All in all, it’s a pretty interesting approach and one that we’ll be sure to watch over the next several years. To get the full story, we recommend reading this article from the Sierra Sun.