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BRIGHT

IDEAS Start now to build a better end-of-


season retreat and capture the best


ideas for generating revenue and
BY LAURA MORIARTY,
TAHOE TRAINING PARTNERS enhancing the guest experience.
AHOE TRAINING PARTNERS

If you could magically see the inner when we have the capacity to fully engage. nities. Seasonal team leaders know their
workings of a resort that manages to That applies to organizations, too. input will be considered in operating bud-
focus on big ideas for the future amid People need a place to discuss and grow gets. And all managers gain an understand-
the distractions of winter operations, the next big ideas for your resort. They ing of their part in the overall business.
would you be interested in its secrets? need to park their thoughts in a reposi-

STEP 3:
Heck yeah. We all know that from tory of strategic ideas as they occur.
ramp-up through closing day, resorts are How are you currently capturing
focused on day-to-day operational chal- this valuable insight from managers? SETTING EXPECTATIONS
lenges. Collaborating, innovating, and Consider installing a reliable mechanism
facilitating the next generation of strate- that ensures managers will be heard at The data you collect during the end of
gic ideas is on hold. preplanned intervals in a transparent, season meetings can be voluminous,
Sure, leadership reviews tactics daily non-secretive annual planning cycle. so instruct presenters to prepare easily
and weekly to make course corrections. One way to do that is adopt the weekly absorbed bullet points. Youll want each
At meetings, managers anticipate near- meeting checklist we presented in Meet- live debriefing organized on the same
term challenges and work to advance ings That Work (SAM September 2016). visual structure (PowerPoint or Prezi) of
preset goals. But strategy is usually rel- less than 10 slides. Presenters should keep

STEP 2:
egated to some time in the future when it simpleno complex spreadsheets, for
leaders can focus on the big picture. example. Establish a reasonable time
If you want to improve your business END OF SEASON DEBRIEFS limit for each presentation, and cluster
planning cycle, youll want to capture the smaller, related departments together.
best ideas for next winter as they pop up. Similar to the surveys you use to learn In mountain operations, assess each
And that process starts right now. Your more about your guests, feedback from departments service, safety culture,
end-of-season review and strategic plan- your department leaders is also foun- guest experience, environment, and
ning meetings are part of a year-round dational for improvement and generat- risk. Departments include snow qual-
meeting cycle (see diagram at right). ing ideas. Its critical for senior staff to ity/grooming, guest services, parking,
The most common errors? Not doing review each departments hits and miss- lift ops, lift mazes/ticket checking.
a post-season review at all, or failing to es of the season in April or May, while In revenue generating departments,
employ a systematic approach. That is, theyre still fresh and big ideas are top of assess products, revenue, product
you should have all departments report mind. Each department manager should delivery, and guest experience.
in the same manner. Make it clear what be invited into the management tent to For supporting departmentsHR,
youre looking for. deliver their insights. accounting, IT, purchasing, marketing/
This has multiple benefits. Senior salesasses their internal services.

STEP 1: team members are exposed to the nuances Ask each manager, What three goals/
42 / ski area management / saminfo.com

of resort operations outside of their own successes are you most proud of? Also
CAPTURE YOUR IDEAS departments and can consider resort-wide ask for their suggestions on improving
ideas prior to budget planning and approv- their three most glaring misses. Use this
Whenever we say, Ive got stuff on my als. That helps prioritize initiatives and exercise to build pride and acknowledge
mind, its because we havent had the agenda items for the big planning meeting. successes, as well as missed opportunities.
space to think through next steps, reso- Department managers get face time with Allow sufficient time for managers
lutions or conclusions. The solution is to senior leaders, celebrate their successes, to pitch their ideas for new opportu-
park those ideas in a safe place to revisit and have the chance to present opportu- nities. Require them to think through
RESORT WINTER BUSINESS PLANNING CYCLE

DEPARTMENTAL END OF SEASON PITCH TIME


ASSESSMENTS & ANALYSIS Department managers pitch ideas for
Hits and misses funding prior to
Big opportunities setting resort-wide budget
BUSINESS PLAN EXECUTION
April April
Weekly meetings
Track goals/Net Promoter Scores
Add big ideas to the strategy repository 1. DETERMINE PRIORITIES
November-April OFF-SITE RETREAT
2. PLAN KEY INITIATIVES Whats most important?
Examine opportunities/challenges
Plan strategy and key initiatives
ROLLOUT PLANS TO STAFF 3. DECLARE INTENTIONS
May/June
Communicate the plan, set goals
Provide leadership development 4. BUDGET AND FUNDING
opportunities
Fall/ongoing
5. ENGAGE MANAGERS POST-RETREAT
GM communicates to next level of manage-
6. ROLL OUT COMMUNICATIONS ment team
IMPLEMENTATION TIME June
Install operational systems and resort
7. EXECUTE THE PLAN
improvements
Select key products for promotion, up-
selling, and cross-sales incentives MANAGEMENT TEAM MEETINGS
Summer Reengage the team BUDGETING
Put initiatives into action Financial validation and approval
Set up task force committees July
Summer

(perhaps with the help of their senior is also the time to hear about high poten- When your planning cycle is non-se-
manager) and justify what they want to tial talent at all levels in each business cretive and department managers can see
do by doing RORI research (return on unit. Department managers know better the next benchmark, they are aware of
resources invested). Try using the filter than senior staff who is ready for more when you will reengage with them on
below for each new idea, and include responsibility and what type of train- approved ideas in late spring.
them in your senior staff off-site retreat. ing and development their teams need.

STEP 5:
This segment of EOS download is Understanding who is in the pipeline is
the most satisfying and affirming for key to your succession planning efforts.
mid-level managers. Instead of looking Department managers should also dis- PLAN THE OFF-SITE
in the rear-view mirror, youll be looking cuss their plans for staffing and recruit- RETREAT
at the road ahead together! ment for the following season.
Prepare a template on which manag- Now its time for the off-sitewhere

STEP 4: ers can capture data and ideas for next sea- senior management can really come out
son, including space for a repository of of the trenches, stretch their managerial
IDENTIFY FUTURE LEADERS big opportunities that are tabled for stra- muscle and collective intellect to collab-
tegic planning. Refine your EOS process orate and innovate. Theres great value
This review is not just about operations. It each season as it gets more sophisticated. in getting off-site, and you dont need to
spend a lot of money to do this well.
Its best to do this between May and
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT AND CAPEX PLANNING
GUIDELINES mid-June, after your team has had some
Do we have the right people to time off. If they havent had time to
Is our idea or product on-brand? execute? regroup, they are not likely to come to this
working session refreshed and energized.
What is the pricing/margin? Does it enhance the vision/advance
To ensure that this investment
our mission?
Does our idea or product help meets the expectations of senior staff,
achieve sales targets? What is the cost? determine what you will achieve in
advanceand allow plenty of time to
Can we consistently deliver on our Is there risk of delay? achieve it. In my experience, resort lead-
idea or product?
ers try to do too much in too little time.
43 / March 2017

Does it advance any of our identified This is where a facilitator can help.
immediate or long-term goals? Make sure the purpose of the retreat
on page 62
Bright Ideas tory of working together. Since people space so you dont get claustrophobic, and
from page 43 think differently, allow disagreement to that there is additional space for break-
break down the silo mentality. If every- outs. Post visual progress and action items
is clear to all. Often, it isnt. Leadership one participates, you get better thinking, on white board, flip charts, or with inter-
must declare its intentions, reengage the and greater buy-in. active technology.
management team, and make decisions to 2. Determine how you will invest 5. Set a realistic agenda. Customize
fund projects. You must also settle on and your time, attention and energy. Ensure your retreat based upon whats most
clearly state your strategy before marching you have enough time to get work done. important to achieve. You may want to
orders and resources are deployed, typical- Balance relaxing, charging hard in the survey participants in advance so you
ly between June and October. meeting room, and enjoying the features dont miss whats really on their minds.
of the location. Hiking to the top of the Then, distribute the agenda in advance so

STEP 6: mountain before dusk might exhaust you can hit the ground running.
energy youll need to be mentally tough 6. Bring information. Determine
/06 12:56 PM
NAIL THE LANDING
Page 1
in the boardroom. which targeted information attendees
3. Establish and clarify team pur- should digest in advance. Print anything
Your off-site retreat isnt just a lon- pose. This isnt just for the senior team. It thats hard to see on a screen, like complex
ger-than-usual tactical meeting with a provides a sense of unity, shared mission, spreadsheets, or arrange for access to elec-
laundry list of to-dos. This is the time to: and clarity for everyone downline. This tronic information that can be readily
1. Determine your readiness to is the foundation for establishing inter- shared on laptops.
fully address whats most important dependent goals, expectations, standards, 7. Provide breaks and brain fuel.
right now. Before you can tackle your and rules of engagement. Break time allows team members to
business objectives, your team may need 4. Find the right venue and location. reflect and informally build on ideas.
to build bridges to foster harmony, trust, Choose your location based upon the Dont cut that short. Provide healthy
and productivity. These are built on a overall quality of the experience offered, snacks and keep hydrated.
track record of delivering, and also a his- not just the price. Make sure it has enough 8. Manage social connections. Cre-

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ate mingling opportunities, from stand- Laura Moriarty is president and co-found- consulting firm. To reframe your meetings or
up cocktail tables to sit-down dinner to er of Tahoe Training Partners, a human upgrade your teams presentations skills, con-
aprs, but also limit the consumption of resources and management training solutions tact Laura@tahoetrainingpartners.com. 
adult beverages.
9. Engage an experienced facilitator
who understands your business and SAMMY GUEST EDITOR SAYS...
brand. A facilitator can set the rules of
engagement and manage the process of In most industries, the notion of planning planning against, and, ultimately, to flourish.
team building and goalsetting. This per- is baked into the annual cycle of business. For us at Jay Peak, getting away from
son can help narrow your focus, challenge In the ski industry, we need an article to our physical campus has as much to do
your thinking, and push you to greatness. remind us. No, I mean we really need an with the success of capital and operational
One might argue that everything article to remind us. The opportunity to planning as anything else. Along with expos-
we do as leaders falls into two buckets generate a profit in this industry is wedged ing director-level employees to how other
creating the strategy, and executing it. into a slot narrow enough that it demands resorts operate, getting employees into a
Which of these is more difficult? Execu- everyones attention for a two-month peri- new physical environment can promote a
tion, of course. At the end of the retreat, od, yet the planning for it requires much completely different way of thinking and
like any good meeting, youll need to com- more time than that. Its what happens engaging. It also strengthens the bonds
mit to what must happen next. between April and November that allows the between employees who need to band
Choose to improve by installing a business to evolve and expand. That level of together in order to achieve shared goals.
transparent planning cycle. It will help strategic thinking cant take root during the Resort management teams need to rely on
you roll out communication and execu- periods that were operating. each other not only to plan and strategize,
tion expectations following your next Many of Lauras points already have but also execute and deliver. The value of
awesome retreat, and ensure ongoing col- a home in our planning conversations. Its strengthening those relationships through
laboration, innovation and execution of what happens in and around these bullet the meeting process should always be
ideas all year long. points that allows ideas to take root, apply underscored. Steve Wright
PioneerPipe_Jan13 12/20/12 12:55 PM Page 1

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63 / March 2017

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