Key Takeaways from NSAA’s Mountain Technology Symposium
Nov 2nd, 2022
A few weeks ago we traveled to NSAA’s Mountain Technology Symposium for 3 days of learning, networking, and fun. Many of the industry’s leading technology providers as well as IT staff from resorts across the country gathered together at Mountain Creek Resort in New Jersey. Below, we share our four biggest takeaways.
Doing things because “that’s just how it’s always been done” is a thing of the past.
Shubber Ali, Managing Director at Unorthodox Advisors, challenged us to rethink our orthodoxies in order to create a better guest experience, a more streamlined process for our employees, and incorporate the new norms in order to move forward with innovative ideas. Shubber encouraged us to consider what pain points and vulnerabilities result from these accepted, embedded practices.
He shared a way to practice rethinking orthodoxies by coming up with a list derived from using the frame “Things you would never hear ______ say about _____. “ Once you have generated a list, ask the question, “Why do these statements exist?” For example, we could create a list of “Things you would never hear customers say about ski resorts.” From the list of ideas generated, we would question why those things are never said and use that to challenge current notions and innovate. Could we innovate so that those things ARE said about ski resorts?
Simplify your offerings.
Shubber also references a study done in the 1980’s by Campbell Soup. Researcher Howard Moskowitz was asked by Campbell Soup (maker of Prego spaghetti sauce) to help them revise their Prego product line in search of the new specialty sauces they should add to their offerings to increase sales. Moskowitz took 45 sauces on the road and had people taste and rate them. The result? People liked 3 types of sauces – plain, spicy and extra chunky. Choice overload was driving purchasing down. Once Prego added one extra chunky sauce to its lineup, the company made $600 million in 10 years. All they had to do was simplify and offer just three targeted choices. (Malcolm Gladwell details this study and its implications in a popular TEDTalk.) Simplifying product offerings worked for Prego. It’s widely acknowledged that it’s worked for Apple. How can it work for us?
Technology is evolving to accommodate the shortage of employees.
A consistent theme throughout the week was the minimization, or elimination altogether, of ticket windows. Ecommerce is crucial to this process and with technology like Aspenware’s integrations with axess’ PUBs and SkiData’s on-mountain products, guests can arrive at the mountain and head straight to a standalone machine to pick up their ticket. This reduces not only the time spent waiting in line but also gives the resort an opportunity to reallocate ticket staff to other areas on the mountain, therefore creating a better guest experience throughout other departments. This greatly helps reduce the burden that understaffing has placed on resorts.
Collaboration brings out the best in all of us.
Coming together as an industry benefits us all when we can collaborate, learn, and brainstorm with one another in person. We were thrilled to spend time with many of our valued customers and talk about their needs and visions for the future of technology at their resorts. We were also inspired by our conversations with other vendors about how we, as a whole, can continue to evolve and improve technology resulting in a more modern and streamlined experience for not only our clients but also their valued guests.
In all, we left our Mountain Tech experience feeling energized and optimistic about the future of technology in the ski industry. We can’t wait to get to work putting all of our new, innovative ideas into play as we get ready to start the 2022-23 season here in North America!