While U. S. ski resort operators work to maximize their summer business they have their eyes laser-focused on what might or might not happen this winter. Early clues and developments regarding Covid-19 could be more encouraging.
The ski season at Hotham and Falls Creek in Australia is coming to a premature close as Covid cases increase in Melbourne, a major feeder city for resorts in Victoria.
SnowSports Industries America (SIA) announced that it is cancelling its two newly purchased consumer expos – one in Boston and one in Denver. Last year’s Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo (organized by BeWi Productions) drew more than 40,000 people and featured dozens of resort plus a huge retail sale sponsored by Country Ski and Sport. The Expo was one of the largest in the U.S. The owner of Country Ski and Sport plans to hod a warehouse sale in the fall with products planned for the show.
Another major show in Portland, OR called Snowvana also has been postponed until 2021. The creator of the Indy Pass also is the producer for Snowvana and the sponsor for the Windy City Ski and Snowboard Show in Chicago just announced that the show is cancelled although there is no notice on its web site. It was to be held in late September. The other three shows were scheduled in November 2020. Major shows in Chicago, Los Angeles, Sacramento and other urban areas are still on schedule and will be monitored as dates get closer.
Clubs are starting to promote their trip schedules after delaying finalization due to the pandemic. For example, the Baltimore Ski Club (BSC) has announced six trips – all in the U.S. with four including air travel. Last year, the club travelled to Canada and Japan. A fall non-ski trip to Croatia was cancelled. The Ski Club of Washington D.C. (SCWDC) is not scheduling a trip to Europe this year but one of its 12 trips planned is to Canada. All trips include air transportation.
What skiers and snowboarders might find at their favorite destinations this winter could look and feel very different than in the past. While outdoor accommodations already exist, some resort operators are considering installing outdoor rest room facilities and outdoor heated dining tents since capacity in lodges could be limited. According to the industry newsletter The Snow Industry Letter, (TSIL) management at the Aspen Skiing Company is acknowledging what President and CEO Mike Kaplan characterized as “new ‘annoying’ procedures due to limited capacity, social-distancing measures and facial-covering requirements”. According to Kaplan, buying tickets, signing waivers, checking out menus, ordering food and paying bills will move to a digital format as much as possible.
Killington’s President and CEO Mike Solimano, is anticipating that the social scene will likely change substantially as currently bars are not allowed open in Vermont. He noted that many food & beverage options will probably be take-out or grab-n-go. He does not discount skiers and riders having to “suit up” in their cars and going right to the lifts and back foregoing stops indoors in lodges which, currently are operating at 50% capacity. An article from Forbes posted on TSIL expounds on the social scene.
And, this may not be the year for beginners who don’t even own their equipment. Until now, this audience literally had to go indoors to the rental operation to get fitted for boots, skis, piles and snowboards. It is no wonder that most industry conversations currently being held are focusing on those who already participate and likely have their own equipment.
Regardless, resorts will have to comply with state guidelines and regulations and those are all over the map.
Editor’s Note: The subscription-based industry version of The Snow Industry Letter is available to ski/snowboard club members at a special rate. Check “associate membership” on the web site. for details.