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SPEAK-OUT -- HUMANS WERE NOT MEANT TO HIBERNATE


When your industry attracts only 3.5 percent of the U.S. population, there is plenty of potential for growth. That's why 16 state and regional associations, representing more than 300 resorts in 32 states, along with a number of individual resorts, NSAA, PSIA-AASI, NSP, SIA, the industry's consumer media, and a variety of retail and rep groups are supporting Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM). It's an investment in all our futures. 

About 30,000 took lessons in January last year, and we hope to double that number in January 2011. But the real intent is to keep those new customers engaged. 

This effort comes not a moment too soon. Many other recreation industries have been using a grassroots approach to grow their markets for years, even decades. Tennis, golf, in-line skating, biking, bowling and archery all have aggressive programs to draw in elementary school youths. The National Football League's "Play 60" initiative does, too. These industries have one thing in mind: produce future customers. 

Winter resorts are now following suit. LSSM is a flexible, grassroots approach to growing the market. Resorts and their partners can decide how best to pursue the goal in their own situation. The few ground rules: focus on trial and conversion as outlined in NSAA's Model for Growth, and use January as a hook. 

Still, a coordinated approach can help leverage one another's efforts. That's why LSSM partners are asked to use the LSSM logo, as well as the program's "Humans Were Never Meant to Hibernate" slogan, the ad creative developed by Cultivator Advertising and Design, PSIA-AASI's ad agency. Industry consumer magazines are running LSSM "Bring a Friend" ads in their January issues and on Websites, since most people learn our sports because a friend or family member introduces them. 

The financial benefits of developing loyal and returning customers at an early age are real. Growing the Snow Sports Industry research conducted by SIA indicates that 10-year-olds who take up winter sports spend an average of $64,000 on snow sports, while those who begin at 24 spend an average of $19,000. 

The snow sports industry needs to replace aging Baby Boomers with new customers in order to grow. We have the ingredients to be successful: thrilling and visually inspiring sports, engaging personalities like Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White, and superb outdoor winter facilities. Our challenge is to promote these benefits and develop loyal enthusiasts. 

That's why every company and organization in this industry should take part in Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. If you are not already involved, you have several weeks in which to change that. With only 3.5 percent of the population participating in snow sports, you can hardly afford not to do so.

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