Seminar looks at future of mountain economies | AspenTimes.com

Seminar looks at future of mountain economies

Staff report

For the third consecutive year, The Assembly will present “Future and New Realities,” a one-day seminar at the Colorado Convention Center, on Jan. 28 to serve as a multidisciplinary planning season for mountain resort destinations as they look to summer and next winter. The Assembly delivers up-to-date tourism research with interpretation to help participants with developing marketing strategies for the coming year.

“The future of mountain tourism is likely to be much different from the past, and it will take a broader, more collaborative approach to build a year-round, economic foundation,” said Ralf Garrison, organizer for The Assembly. “The long-term sustainability of mountain resort communities is going to depend on facing a variety of new and constantly changing economic, demographic, technological and climatologic realities and inventing new ways to be successful on a year-round basis without using the old model that depends heavily on the ski resort being primarily responsible for growth.”

General sessions and small-group workshops are presented by a lineup of 40 industry experts supported by 30 different businesses and associations. The goal is to foster a collaborative approach for growing year-round mountain tourism among the many and varied businesses engaged in it. The Assembly is offered one day prior to the opening of the SnowSports Industries America trade show to facilitate easy access for participants from all tourism sectors in Denver for the trade show.

“The Assembly is emerging as a platform where discussions about year-round issues in mountain tourism can take place, guided by national experts in the evolution of resorts, retail and technology and how it will impact everyone’s business,” Garrison said. “Much of mountain tourism has been defined by skiing and snowboarding, and it has been a great ride, but the future is going to be very different now. It is going to be essential for all partners to envision and coordinate their efforts better for growth in non-ski season.”

The morning agenda includes a fact-based “state of the industry” assessment provided by RRC and DestiMetrics, followed by analysis by organization leaders from the National Ski Areas Association, Colorado Ski Country USA, Ski Utah and Ski Vermont. Two sessions on “New Realities” will deliver insights and perspectives from experienced resort managers and developers including Harry Frampton, of East West, Bill Jensen, formerly of Intrawest, and Steve Rice, of CNL, a real estate investment trust. A session on mountain community concerns and considerations is also on the agenda.

With summer tourism opportunities as the primary theme, afternoon sessions will cover a range of topics including modern marketing, the evolving role of destination marketing organizations and their public-sector partners, the potential for bicycle tourism and the value of special events and on-mountain activities for attracting overnight visitors. Several of the 15 workshops will be interactive to allow for discussion and collaboration.

“For more than 70 years, ski companies have been the primary attraction and therefore the driving marketing force for mountain destinations and for the most part have been very successful,” Garrison said. “When we look at the biggest opportunity for growth in these communities, it’s clearly during the summer months, but unlike the winter months, there isn’t that one single attraction or activity to drive summer business.”

Garrison said skiing and snowboarding have been the one big magnet drawing people to the mountains during winter but that summer activities don’t have the same single activity for attracting visitors. That cross-section of summer attractions and activities makes it less clear who should take the lead in developing and marketing offseason tourism, he said.

“In summer, we have lots of little magnets to attract people to the mountains, but they are less concentrated than the winter product, so we have to make tourism a team sport with the resorts, chambers, retailers, lodging properties and other players working together,” Garrison said. “It needs to be a different model than winter operations, and figuring out how those different entities can mesh with our ever-changing environment and customer demands is what we’re trying to figure out.”

For additional information about speakers, schedule and registration information, visit http://assembly/destimetrics.com.


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