We chat with Crystal Mountain Resort’s VP Steve Kermode about the Northern Michigan ski trends will be tracking as the 2014 ski and snowboard season begins.
You are fresh back from the National Ski Areas Association national meeting … what’s the main takeaway?
The industry is really circling its way back to what has always been how we introduce people to skiing. Most everybody who started skiing started with somebody else. They start with family or a friend or a school group. The industry is back to the realization that skiing is a social sport and very family oriented. Recent efforts are about encouraging that.
You see deals like “Bring a Friend to the Slopes,” or “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month,” focused on time—and deals—to come out with somebody and learn the sport. When you have a passion for a sport, you want to share it. That’s what this is about.
Family and friends sounds like a very Midwestern way of doing business.
Absolutely. It fits very well with what we do in the Midwest. We essentially breed skiers for the whole country. We have small hills and we teach people how to ski from a very young age with their families and friends. They hone their skills here, get excited about their sport and want to increase their realm, so they head out West to ski a week a year.
Does the broader industry understand that, that we feed the nation’s ski slopes?
Sure. We just saw a major player, Vail, buy Mount Brighton [near Detroit] and another smaller hill near the Twin Cities in Minnesota. It shows that in Vail’s eye, there’s a lot of value in investing in the Midwest skier. And we welcome them to the neighborhood.
We keep hearing about the active Baby Boomer. What about that market?
Sure, a big emphasis. They have been a very active generation, and now as they age, they have the time and money to pursue their interests even more. One thing we are seeing is a surge in older skiers wanting to improve their skills. At Crystal, we have had a couple of senior ski instructors come to us to set up instruction for that group. And again, there’s that social aspect to it—a group lesson or even join a league. We have Lou Batory who’s 103 and is in a league.
This article and additional tips & tricks are available in the October 2013 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Get your copy today!