NSAA Western Winter Conference and Tradeshow 2018

If it seemed that there were a lot of folks attending the NSAA Winter Conference and Trade Show at Snowbird, Utah, Jan. 15-18, well, there were. The official tally was 793 attendees, including 423 resort personnel and 370 supplier reps. A total of 88 resorts attended. It was a disappointing snow season through early January for many, but that didn’t depress attendance.

It was Kelly Pawlak’s first NSAA conference as the organization’s president and CEO, and she seemed to be in several places at once throughout the event, meeting many western resort operators for the first time. Pawlak’s thirst for knowledge was evident as she sat in with other attendees for some educational sessions on Wednesday.

The conference rewarded attendees by addressing several challenges head-on. These included climate change, tax and regulatory changes, legal and risk management threats, and more. Perhaps the best-attended session focused on leadership and succession. While this has been an ongoing topic for several years, it appears to get more urgent with each passing season. And the fast-evolving culture of leadership, in the wake of the #MeToo movement and its challenge to the old boys’ club, has shaken up succession planning further.

Other major issues covered include governmental changes in the Trump era, employee housing, the latest industry data, and a variety of marketing and risk management topics.

The trade show itself was crowded, with exhibitors and resort personnel spilling into the foyer outside the main hall. The aisles and booths were packed throughout, and the floor was slow to clear at the end of each trade show session.

Wednesday’s first tracks attracted hundreds of attendees for a pre-dawn ride up the tram to Snowbird’s state-of-the-art summit building, where all were treated to a robust breakfast and a breathtaking sunrise from the 11,000-foot Hidden Peak before carving turns. Thursday morning’s first tracks at Alta were also well attended.