Search continues for Snowmass tourism director
A month after director Susan Hamley’s departure, Snowmass Tourism is still without a new leader.
And it might be that way for a while, with 50 to 60 applications for Town Manager Russ Forrest and the search committee to sift through.
Hamley announced her decision to leave her post of 10 years earlier this spring and had her last day with the completion of Snowmass’ ski season. After agreeing with the search committee on a set of qualifications to look for in a new candidate, the town began advertising the open position in early April and closed the campaign on May 7.
The position was advertised in local newspapers, in the Denver Post, on the social-networking site LinkedIn and on the Destination Marketing Association International’s website, Forrest said.
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The search committee consists of Marketing, Special Events and Group Sales board members John Borthwick, Howard Gross and Robert Sinko. Sinko said it should be easy to narrow the applications down to a handful of qualified candidates who have the “specific backgrounds and skill sets that fit into this job.”
Forrest, Finance Director Marianne Rakowski and the search committee have looked at many of the applications but as of May 14 had not begun conducting interviews.
To be considered at all, a candidate will have to have a “strong skill set in marketing or group sales,” Forrest said. After that, he named strong leadership, the ability to articulate a vision and to deal with complex stakeholders, strategic thinking and communication skills as qualities the committee is looking for.
When Hamley first announced her resignation, Forrest said the board and town might consider restructuring the Snowmass Tourism department. Sinko said that has not been discussed yet, although some temporary reorganizing has occurred, mainly making group sales director Fred Brodsky the interim director.
The fundamental duties of the position didn’t change, Forrest said, but the job description has been clarified.
“This job evolved tremendously from … when (Hamley) first was hired,” Sinko said. “We’re looking for a different skill set because the job has evolved.”
Hamley was the first marketing director hired after the voter approval of the marketing tax and the formation of the board in 2003. During her tenure, the department grew to 13 staff members and absorbed the group-sales function.
Forrest went around to Snowmass businesspeople to get input on the qualifications of an ideal candidate. Mary Harris, general manager of the Timberline Condominiums, said she told him it was important to find someone who understands the seasonality of resorts. Harris also named strong leadership as a priority.
“When you’re answering to so many people, it takes a strong personality to deal with that,” she said. “(We need) someone who can put together a long-term business plan. We’re really good at reacting. We really need to be good at forecasting.”
The marketing board is currently working on a new business plan. The framework likely will be done as soon as next month, Sinko said. Depending on when they find the right person for the job, the new Snowmass Tourism director could play a big role in completing that, he said.
Dave Spence, manager of the Top of the Village condominiums, said the department needs a strong leader who’s willing to make some changes.
“I think we have got some really excellent people in our marketing and sales department,” Spence said. “(They need) someone who can help them succeed.”
Snowmass Tourism is well-funded, he said, and it needs “someone that can take that money and use it wisely.”
Forrest said it could take several months to conduct interviews, select a candidate, complete a negotiation process and give that person time to transition.
Tim Johnson, director of sales and marketing at the Westin and Wildwood, said it would be good to find someone soon so that he or she could experience a summer here.
For Johnson, it’s important that the next director can market to the vacationer as well as the conferencegoer. A candidate who’s been successful in a comparable resort market with “a perspective of a different destination that they can bring to us” might be ideal, he said.
“Mountain resort experience is important because of the cyclical nature of our business,” Johnson said.
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