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Kolton Smith’s peers named him Snowbird’s employee of the year this season, a testament to the impact he’s made at his home hill. “Something that truly sets Kolton apart is his willingness to help wherever needed,” said a nominator. This winter, Kolton bussed tables, parked cars, and patrolled lift lines for mask infractions in between his job managing Snowbird’s digital presence—anything Snowbird on the internet falls under Kolton’s purview. In a season where communication was king, that means Kolton was quite busy finding creative solutions to complex problems.
Describe a challenge you encountered this season and how you overcame it.
Parking reservations was our biggest challenge of the season. It was like building the ship as we were trying to sail it. From the technology point, there was a lot we were trying to figure out and manage, and the bigger part of that on the marketing side was trying to explain that as best we could. We had to build a no-show policy and system that didn’t exist within the platform we were working with at the time. There was a lot of development work that had to get done. It was our department responding to the emails from people frustrated with the situation and on social. We were getting it at all ends—we were trying to solve the problem and we were in charge of communicating what the system was.
What leadership traits do you admire?
We run a fairly small team. There are about 10 of us. We do a lot of job sharing and helping each other out. Everyone here can wear multiple hats. It’s not really super segmented by roles. The way we all work together and collaborate makes it easy for us to want to support other departments, too. I’ve never heard anyone say “that’s not my job.” We do whatever we can to help each other out.
What’s a hot button topic in your department?
Creating more contact points with guests when they are at a resort. We build all these campaigns around pre-arrival and post-departure, and then a lot of resorts go pretty dark once their guests are actually here. One of the things we did this year that I’m really proud of is the new Snowbird App. It was a project really focused on improving communication. We’re not spamming people with marketing messages. We are using it specifically to inform people. We have an 80 percent opt-in rate to those messages. We are pretty much in the pockets of one in every three passholders.
What industry developments have you stoked for the future of snowsports?
Two areas that I’m really excited about is being more ADA accessible with websites and web projects and improving inclusivity within the snowsports industry for people of color. Those are the two directions to help grow skiing that I’m really excited to support in marketing. Those are the kinds of projects that I want to be more and more involved with. I’m working on making sure our website is a website built for everyone.
You’re trapped on a desert island. You can bring three objects. What are they, and why?
I would bring a surfboard, for sure. I love surfing. I would bring my corgi. And I would have to bring my wife, too.