Monday, January 15, 2007

Dave's Blog - Ski Industry Execs Take Note

I used to work in the ski resort industry. At age 16 I started teaching skiing at Timberline, Mount Hood. From then until 2 years ago when I left The Canyons Resort (I was 33) I missed just 2 seasons of not working for a ski hill. Part of why I left The Canyons had a lot to do with the increasing number of people working in the ski biz who know little about or have little to no passion for the ski biz other than it's the next stop on the resume building train.

Case in point - The Canyons (this post is not about The Canyons, trust me) filed this in a recent press release touting new hired employees:
Under the guidance of marketing Vice President Todd Burnette, the department has three new employees all from outside the industry.
One might say, "But it's a business, you have to hire business people." Yea, but...ah, [sigh]'re right, mostly. See, there are elements to a ski resort business that feed upon the passions of its customers and therefore decisions of the business must (or should) consider these passions. Unlike, say a tee shirt or jacket manufacturer where the bottom-line is the primary and often the only underlying element to decisions the business makes.

In my search of the ski industry (and a point to this post) I have yet to find another ski industry executive that is really in the trenches, interacting with his or her customers to the degree that Dave Riley of Mt. Hood Meadows is.

Dave's Blog is not unlike other blogs out there. What started as an experiment, inspired in part by Chuck Shepard's "Chuck's Page" of Hoodoo Mountain Resort, a small ski hill in Central Oregon.

What does Dave's Blog have to do with the decisions that the business makes? Everything. Dave continually puts it out there for his customers to comment, and he listens. His most recent post has garnered 105 comments, ALL of which he responds to. Every single comment receives a comment in turn from Dave. EVERYONE.

Take for example what Dave did last May when he put out a challenge to season pass holders - as long as Meadows reached a certain number of skier visits they would stay open. Although they missed some of the target numbers the decision was made (with some input from the bean counters mind you) to re-open the following weekend which kept up though the first weekend of June. The most impressive aspect to this style of running his business is that it included respected the customers and their passion for sliding on snow.

Dave, if there was a blogging for businesses award in the outdoor world, I would nominate you. To be honest, when I lived in Oregon although I enjoyed the terrain of Mount Hood Meadows I was never a pass holder. I opted for Timberline primarily from the feeling I had that Meadows didn't care about their customers. If I ever move back to Portland, I would purchase a season pass to Meadows to get my ski fix.

Kudos, Dave.

Check out Dave's Blog



Blogger outdoorspro said...

Dave's blog is great! I patrol at a different large Oregon ski area and wish we had a President with as much backbone. It's depressing to see passes that we take get returned in only a day or two because the holders or their parents bitched and the Pres. broke down.

Just two weeks ago i pulled passes from four teenage 'boarders who were hanging out in the beginner area causing trouble and throwing rock-hard snowballs from the lift at a six-year old girl. They made racist comments about her father.

Yet the next day their parents called and bitched. They got their passes back almost immediately.

Kinda disheartening, it is.

1/17/2007 8:00 PM

Blogger mk said...

powstah- please email me, I lost your email. Thanks. Mk

1/18/2007 1:00 PM

Blogger backcountry freak said...

outdoorspro, bummer to hear about your president lacking backbone. You know, there is a surgery that shareholders can perform to implant a backbone. Hope the cure comes sooner than later for you.

At least you have snow to slide on, right? I mean, it could be worse.

1/19/2007 2:23 PM


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