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The inaugural Mountain Technology Symposium, held Sept. 28 – Oct. 1 at Telluride Ski and Golf Resort, Colo., drew 82 ski industry tech leaders and suppliers, including 50 ski area personnel from 35 resorts. They discussed the IT state of the art and ways to improve upon it down the road.

Starting a new conference-event in a marketplace flooded with them ain’t easy. Everyone’s time and budgets are strained, and it’s difficult for ski area staff and suppliers to choose which events to hit. But this event, aimed at those who manage the systems resorts use to collect and keep track of money and data—IT, accounting, finance, etc.—seems to fill a definite need. That’s why SAM signed on as the media sponsor.

That’s also why many attended, including Teresa Kliegerman, senior product manager, business intelligence for Inntopia. “My biggest takeaway from the symposium was there is clearly a lot of pent-up demand for a ski industry-focused technology conference,” she said. “Many attendees mentioned this, and there was clearly excitement and enthusiasm to discuss tech as it pertains to the ski business specifically.”

Providing a forum for tech folks was certainly a boost for those in charge of this important facet of every operation. Said one attendee, “The best part of the entire symposium was not necessarily the content of the keynote speaker’s speech, but instead the joy it brings me to see that the CEO of the largest company in Telluride [Bill Jensen] supports our world of finance/accounting and IT.”

Event founder and organizer Chris Jaquet, software specialist for Telluride Ski and Golf, said the sense of shared community among unaffiliated resorts was a key outcome for the event, as that boosts their ability to collectively solve universal technology issues. Or, as another attendee put it, “We have power when we all get together as one voice and collaborate to find a platform that works."

The process of finding what works starts with knowing the current climate of resort technology, and where it needs to go. “Business software in the short term is focused on integrations and backfilling POS needs,” explained Kliegerman. “Mid and longer term, software must be focused on meaningful, actionable intelligence to allow resorts to make informed decisions about product offerings and pricing.”

The gathering was so successful that plans are already in motion for next fall’s event, which will take place Oct. 11 – 14, 2018, at Sun Valley, Idaho. About hosting next year’s event, Sun Valley IT manager Andrew Rigby said the resort looks forward to welcoming new visitors to the area. In addition, “The entire resort is excited to participate in moving not just our resort but the entire resort industry forward through collaboration and communication with all of our peers and industry partners,” he said.