NSAA: Snow Sports Has a Solid Core MICHAEL BERRY, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL Ski Areas Association (NSAA), gave an upbeat presentation during Industry + Intelligence yesterday on the current state of the snow sports industry’s ski areas. A trade association, the NSAA was born in the mid90s to provide ski area owners and operators with data and metrics that would help them proactively strategize to grow the industry. Looking to the horizon does not always come easily to resort-keepers that are bombarded with the day-to-day fires of running a business on snow, Berry says. “I started working at 14-years-old at a ski resort with a pickup and dynamite,” he says, followed by 13 years of work at Vail and Sun Valley resorts before his current position. “As a ski area operator, you tend to be surrounded by princes—people telling you the news you want to hear—and you live at the end of the road. You can problem solve and manage crises really well. When asked why fewer people came this year versus last year? I couldn’t (have told) you,” he says. And that’s where the NSAA comes in. The NSAA represents 313 alpine resorts, which represent 90 percent of the business, measured in skier and snowboarder visits.
In addition to sharing up-to-date information on snow sports demographics (diversity is greater than it was 15 years ago), financial performance and operational practices, Berry also talked about NSAA studies of visitation trends to determine how many of those resort visitors represent devoted returnees. The core group—those that frequent resorts at least five times annually—equals 10 million, about 3 percent of the nation’s population. Another 20 million have lapsed in the sport, most likely due to life-changing events like a new job, relocation or marriage. Typically, kids spark a return, he says. But the market potential is larger yet. Nearly 57 million Americans are a socio-economic match for the industry, he says, but aren’t a regular participant or haven’t tried the sport—yet. One focus, Berry says, should be to increase the progression from “newbie” to someone who identifies as a snowboarder or skier. Another challenge is gender inequality within the sport, Berry says, which is more prevalent in snowboarding than in skiing. “The number of women snowboarders is de minimis. They don’t participate in early- to mid-teens in the same way that the males do. Then, when kids leave
home to go to college, women tend to drift away from the sport.” That said, the news is not bad. “The reality is, given the right snow and weather conditions, the sport has not lost participants and has not lost rates of participation,” Berry says. “We’ve spent the last 20 years making (the sport) easier and more fun so more people can integrate it into their life. There’s no other sport that can change your life the way that snow sports does.” —Morgan Tilton
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TIPS TO KEEP YOUR INFLUENCER-MARKETING CAMPAIGN ROLLING ALL YEAR LONG IT’S EASY TO MARKET THAT SWEET PAIR OF PLANKS OR COZY WOOL base layer when the winter winds are howling and the mountain is getting hammered. But what about when temperatures heat up, melting the powder and pushing on-snow stoke to the backburner? “Our industry faces unique challenges,” says Craig Randall, integrated services director at Verde Brand Communications. “We’re seasonal. Our time to shine and to sell is limited.” His Industry + Intelligence seminar “What to Do with Your Retail Customers in the Off-Season?” encouraged brands and retailers to keep the momentum they build during the prime selling months rolling through the off-season. Focusing primarily on influencer-marketing campaigns, which use social media thought leaders and gear testers with expansive followings to tell the brand story, he offered up some pro tips. First, continue to connect with your audience during the warmer months. One idea: Have the company founder or the store’s general manager moderate an online conversation (via Google Hangouts, Twitter, etc.) about last season’s highlights or ambitions for next year. Influencers can help promote the event. “It may be the off-season, but it’s still completely relevant if you’re passionate about those sports,” Randall says. Also use this time of year to get feedback from influencers about the gear. If they’re living up to their end of the bargain, they’ve been testing the product all season. Tap into their knowledge about what works and where there’s room for improvement. Ideally, influencers have their tentacles in numerous different social media channels. Take the time to gauge their performance in these different outlets and evaluate where efforts should be focused next season. And then, most importantly, continue to sell! “The off-season is a time when you could work directly with the influencers and help them do content or give their followers a special incentive,” Randall says. “It’s about reminding their fans or followers that they’re part of this amazing thing.” —Courtney Holden
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