Snowmass, Colorado, hosted the 38th Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS). The event is the largest and longest-running annual gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America.
MTS 2013 was a blast. More than 1200 buyers, suppliers, and resort executives convened for the most productive MTS in its almost four-decade run.
MTS has grown as the industry has grown. It has extended its reach and offerings to include mountain travel professionals from around the world as well as tour operators, ski clubs and councils, MICE executives, and a variety of corporate sponsors.
Trade Exchange attendees (including ski resorts and property management companies) estimated following the 2011 event that 41 percent of the business volume they receive from tour operators came from contacts made at the Symposium. Group Exchange attendees in 2011 estimated more than 25 percent of their total business from ski clubs and councils came from the Symposium alone.
The addition of the new MICE Exchange in 2013 was an exciting, very important business development component to MTS Week. The fresh tracks leading to the Forum general sessions, workshops and the Executive Summit provided attendees with an incredible week.
The Forum includes two full days of professional development and education featuring presentations from nationally-known speakers as well as individual breakout sessions on practical and topical issues. Finally, a variety of receptions, parties, and activities are scheduled throughout the week to maximize networking and relationship building.
This year's Mountain Travel Symposium focused on expanding the winter sports market. And the two-day Forum was full of great takeaways for a brighter future. There is a sea of change coming in our guests: are you prepared to be out in front? Are you communicating with guests and potential guests with the right tools?
The Mountain Travel Forum at Snowmass April 10-11 demonstrated that growing the winter sports market is on everyone’s mind. Sessions focused on bringing new audiences to the mountains and using social media to both sell them on a destination and make their experiences more memorable once there.Attendees and speakers all agreed that the future doesn’t look at all like the past. Guests will be younger and more diverse, and the means of interacting with them will be broader, more mobile, and digital. That could lead to big changes in the way products are sold, from tickets and lunch to parking and reservations, and in the way resorts are marketed.
One novel idea: let the customer determine how much they are willing to buy. As technology expert Erik Blachford of Technology Crossover Ventures said, the sales paradigm is changing: guests are now in control of pricing. They are accustomed to getting a first taste for free, and then opting in for whatever additional services they want.
Next year, Breckenridge (Colorado) will host the Mountain Travel Symposium on April 9-16.