Participation demographics and macro-economic challenges were some of the topics of discussion among the roughly 50 outdoor industry professionals gathered in Golden, Colorado, to discuss the snowsports industry on Thursday, Sept. 28.
The event, held at the Table Mountain Meetings and Events space, was organized by Snowsports Industries America (SIA) as the first part of its Summit Series. In attendance were outdoor manufacturers, retailers, sales and marketing representatives, and other professionals in the industry.
Nick Sargent, president of SIA, said this series was created after SIA went on a roundtable tour around the country speaking with leaders in the winter sports community, taking feedback, and identifying areas where SIA can improve its work.
“There’s so much changing in the industry, and the threats are becoming more and more direct,” Sargent said.
This is part one of a four-part series. The next summit will be in Boston in November, followed by Sundance Resort in Utah in March, then Seattle, Washington in April.
“We have to keep doing these sessions to inform the industry and help them make good business decisions,” Sargent said.
The education sessions included talks on building brand loyalty, inclusive hiring strategies, environmental regulations, and how to use data to impact business decisions.
As far as business concerns among SIA members, Sargent said the climate is top of mind for everyone.
“We need to real aware and cognizant that if we don’t engage in sustainable practices, if we’re not focused on standards and regulations that are coming down the pipe around manufacturing products and materials, it’s going to be a real tough go for a lot of companies,” he added.
Click through the slideshow to see some of the summit attendees:
Snow Business Update
Gregg Thayer, head of membership relations and business development at SIA, said he’s hearing that a lot of retailers and manufacturers are nervous about the amount of inventory they’re holding and many are expecting orders will be 20%-30% lower this season than the previous year because of the product glut.
“That’s where the conversation starts,” he said. “But there is some level of optimism coming out of COVID.”
Part of that is winter sports companies in the West are coming off a good snow season and are hoping it’ll be good again, Thayer added.
The theme of the event, according to Thayer, was that industry members want to collaborate and learn from each other.
“In the day-to-day business world you don’t get that opportunity all the time,” he said.
Although the industry enjoyed a boom in participation during the pandemic, Thayer said statistics are showing that some of those new entrants to skiing and snowboarding might not be sticking around and instead will choose to spend their time and money elsewhere.
“That’s the job of the industry,” he added. “How do we retain? How do we keep those people’s enthusiasm about going outdoors? As an industry we need to work at promoting that.”
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.