'Growing the Sport' meeting sets synergy for the future

Everyone in the snowsports industry wanted an invitation to the "Growing the Sport" meeting held in Denver on Aug. 17, 2011. But according to SIA President David Ingemie, rather than sharing state secrets, the meeting really focused on the importance of communication and teamwork.

There won't be any press releases, partnership announcements or new initiatives coming out regarding the “Growing SnowSports” meeting held in Denver on Aug. 17, 2011. But according SnowSports Industries America President David Ingemie, the invitation only session could help set the standard for the how the industries' various interests work together for the future of snowsports.

“The key thing we looked at was snowsports participation, and what everyone can do to help get more people involved and increase those numbers for everyone’s benefit,” said Ingemie. “Both NSAA and PSIA had some pretty interesting statistics that helped formulate the conversation on who and how people are being introduced to snowsports, and how we can help drive those retention numbers up.” 

Michael Berry, president of the National Ski areas Association (NSAA), as well as Mark Dorsey, president and CEO of the Professional Ski Instructors Association and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI), attended the meeting, which also included members of the National Ski Patrol (NSP), the National Ski and Snowboard Retailers Association (NSSRA), rep groups and the SSL and SMC retail buying groups. Although attendees did sign letters of confidentiality before the meeting began, and several members of the resort industry and the media tried to swing their own invitations to the event, Ingemie said nothing “top secret” was discussed.

“It was more about everyone understanding what each organization does, and creating more of an effort to synthesize and circulate information about existing initiatives and how they might impact each other’s business or specific market,” Ingemie said. 

In particular, the initiative the meeting focused on was Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. The January-long effort to get more people on the slopes directly resulted in more than 75,000 lessons in 2011, due to specific marketing efforts and generous discounts on lessons and lift tickets. The participation numbers marked a 150 percent increase over the lessons the initiative created in 2010, and for 2012 LSSM organizers have set a goal doubling that number to 150,000 participants.

“Getting the shops and the rep groups involved is key to that,” Ingemie said. 

He also added though, that the snowsports community’s continuing efforts to grow the sport will have to run even deeper than just one event. “I think everyone understands that there is no magic bullet, and people have to do what they can to create more opportunities in their own market,” he said. “Whether that’s working with a school, or a church group, or on an individual by individual basis, they have to continue doing what they can to get more people to participate. And they have to do it in December and February, too. LSSM is just one month.”

Getting everyone to sit down at the same table and agree to coordinate their efforts whenever possible, Ingemie said, was an important first step. “As far as having all of these factors of the industry together in one room, I would say that has not happened since 1976. It’s been a long time since everyone was able to talk together, and understand each other’s business, and really agree to share the same focus.” 

--Peter Kray

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