The near-record turnout at this year's New England Summit Sept. 15-17 showed how much excitement there is in the region as resorts anticipate what El Nino will bring—including the possibility the Northeast is looking at another record-breaking snowfall year. Show organizer Bo Bigelow of the Ski Maine Association said the Summit drew 290 ski area attendees and an overall total attendance of 452 including exhibitors and speakers. Sessions were well attended, and the trade show hall was standing room only.
The robust agenda offered up something for everyone, from a full suite of snowmaking sessions and a special lift school presented by Dopplemayr to sessions focused on the beginner experience, building children's facilities and managing employee compensation for the coming "wage wave."
Blaise Carrig of Vail Resorts and Bruce Walker of L.L. Bean addressed a hot topic in the industry: guest service. Vail's goal is to be a service leader in the entire travel and leisure business; the company's mantra for its staff to step up their service level is "Own it. Peronalize it. Elevate it." Staff are encouraged on all three fronts to engage with customers in unique and memorable ways that support Vail's mission to deliver the "experience of a lifetime." L.L. Bean's customer service philosophy comes from its founder's original directive, "A customer is not an interruption of our work, he is the purpose of it." Bean believes "If you sell merchandise for a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, they will always come back for more."
NSAA's educational track focused on the evolving landscape of safety and risk management. Sessions covered best practices around new technologies like drones and electronic waivers to harnessing the power of social media to assist in accident investigation.
The New England Summit moves to Sunday River in 2016. Dates will be posted to SAM's online calendar when they are set.
John Hammond, Sugarbush, and guest speaker Blaise Carrig from Vail Resorts hang out at the SAM booth.
World domination is discussed by (left to right) Kelly Pawlak and Denise Andersen from Mount Snow, Dennis Kinsella of DemacLenko, and Greg Goddard of Gunstock.
Earl Saline of NSAA and Evan Reece of Liftopia keeping it real.
Peter Shenk, Ted Lesher and Dave Madden from Liftopia.
Jay Gamble, Mount Sunpaee, and Jim Coughlin, Prinoth, catching up on opening night of the trade show.
Working the show: Sam Rufo, Nxt Concepts; Tom Horrocks, SnoCountry; Stew Jensen, Nxt Concepts; and Ed Dietzel, MND Group.
Women in charge: Carolyn Stimpson, Wachusett Mountain, and Kelly Pawlak, Mount Snow.
Newcomers: first-time exhibitor Adored had three reps at the Summit: Cory Von Wallenstein, Scott Henley, and the company's app designer.