AN INDUSTRY PARTNER FOR 60 YEARS
You may have noticed a nod to our 60th anniversary on this month’s cover. Can it be? For six decades SAM has strived to be thought-provoking, helpful, and sometimes entertaining. We have been through a lot of ups and downs along with the rest of the industry, from record seasons to snowless winters and our latest challenge, the pandemic.
Like the ski business, we’ve grown and adapted over the years—SAM is no longer just a magazine. You can access news, information, insights, and opinions via PodSAM, Huddles, headline news emails, and social posts. We’ve also gathered expertise inside the industry and out to offer training, education, and networking through Summit Series bootcamps, Cutter’s Camp, and Summer Ops Camp.
We are grateful for your support through the years. We would not be here celebrating our 60th without you.
Turning 60 is not our only news. We recently added a new member to our team: Jack Fagone. Jack started in marketing at Mount Snow, Vt., and most recently was the marketing director for Attitash and Wildcat, N.H. He was a SAM “10 Under 30” in 2017. He’ll wear many hats at SAM and Adventure Park Insider (SAM’s sister publication).
Speaking of many hats, this issue showcases several of the roles SAM has played through good times and bad. On a positive note, lift building is on the upswing, as our annual lift construction survey shows (p. 61).
Capital improvement projects in general are trending upward. To help resorts plan their future moves, we assembled a power panel of crack financial minds to discuss how to best approach capital maintenance and growth projects. This is a must read on p. 34.
What will the industry look like 10 years from now? Several SAMMY Award honorees shared their thoughts in “A Peek into the Crystal (Snow)Ball” (p. 18).
Of course, the future is often unpredictable, and resorts must roll with the punches from time to time. To that end, this issue’s interview with Sierra-at-Tahoe GM John Rice (p. 56) is especially poignant. The devastating Caldor Fire last summer permanently changed the resort’s future. Rice’s experiences before, during, and after the fire offer valuable lessons and demonstrate the power—and limitations—of good planning.
In this season of giving, please consider a donation to the Sierra employee relief fund (search “Sierra-at-Tahoe” on gofundme.com). Another way to help: SAM is donating 10 percent of the cost of any new or renewed subscription during December and January to the relief fund.
Here’s to a healthy and prosperous new year. Thanks, as always, for reading.
Olivia Rowan, Publisher
News of snow blanketing parts of the U.S. at press time has us all excited about the prospect of a good season ahead. Everything is hopeful. Let’s pause, take a deep breath, and enjoy that familiar feeling.
Now, on to Business
The pandemic is still on our worry list, but with vaccines available, fewer restrictions, and Covid playbooks in hand, this season may feel closer to normal in that regard. As Dave Riley, COO of Sunshine Village, Alberta, said in “What, Me Worry?” (p. 22), “It would be wonderful to get back to having fun, doing what we do best, skiing and snowboarding.”
To do that, we have to address the biggest worry facing EVERY business in North America: staffing shortages. Ski area staff will wear a lot of hats this winter. If you see your GM parking cars or your rental techs loading lifts, send us a picture so we can document what we do best, which is get “steeled up and adjust to whatever comes,” as Jeff Kohnstamm, GM of Timberline, Ore., put it. For a proactive take on tackling a big part of our staffing woes, check out part two of Andy Bigford’s series “Skiing’s Prickliest Problem” (p. 55), where he dives into employee housing solutions.
Of course, we have a lot to celebrate, too. Take “Construction Site” (p. 66), for example. It showcases just a few of the many capital improvement projects at ski areas this year—a sign that many had a successful winter despite some extreme challenges.
Speaking of improvements, our Tech Planning Guide supplement is a valuable resource for your resort’s future technology upgrades. The guide will help you assess your internal needs and prepare checklists for RFPs and integrations. We have also compiled a chart of tech suppliers that outlines what they do, who they do it for, how to get in touch with them, and more.
Tech stands still for no one, though, so we made an expanded version available online in our Tech Mountain Department (saminfo.com/tech). There, we’ll continually update you with the latest content and supplier info.
Finally, we just wrapped our 5th year of the Summit Series Leadership Development Program. We brought 10 mentors and 10 mentees together for weekly discussions on the most relevant and pressing issues of our time, including: Leading the Change, Sustainability, Career Development, Culture of Change, and Guest Experience.
The conversations were too important not to share, so we’re making them available as part of five bootcamps that can be taken individually or together, and include additional advice and insights from top experts and industry leaders. Check out the details on page 44.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
See you on the mountain!
Olivia Rowan, Publisher