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SIA Participation Committee Drills Down on Industry Growth

As part of its re-invigorated commitment to stakeholders, SIA is working hard and moving forward with all of its winter initiatives.

Recently, the SIA Participation Committee met with the most current SIA Participation report in front of them. Here’s what transpired that you can help them act on:

About half the hour-long session was spent talking about “why people do not participate.” Virtually everyone had examples of various solutions to participation barriers — with some being unique to a particular location/resort.

The most prominent barriers/issues related to participation identified were:

  1. Lack of someone to go with
  2. Increasing participation during “shoulder seasons at resorts”
  3. Engaging the weather reporting community
  4. Price barriers
  5. Uphill barriers related to the backcountry community
  6. Collaborating with the resort industry on engaging “first time participants”

During the session, each committee member explained how they got into the sport — and it was remarkable that it was generally through a friend or a group with fond memories associated with the introduction.

This exercise culminated in the notion that we should consider some sort of “Tell Your Story” campaign, about how and/or why you got into and love snow sports, so stay tuned for more on that, and how to actuate and convert based on this idea. One comment was made as to the need for a national campaign to improve participation. At least one comment was made that the right things are being done, but not communicated well enough. There are a number of learning programs available to assist new participants introduced to the sport, as well as the fact that NSAA has participation education sessions for industry staff at its various events around the country.

Committee members were asked to provide additional thoughts on what should be done to improve participation via email.

Here’s a summary of those ideas for you to consider:

Mark Wakling (Burton):

>>Need a national ad campaign for the non-enthusiast inviting them to the mountains.

>>Focus on college ski clubs, meet up groups, and bus trips for all skill levels.

>>Use the Olympics as a springboard to invite new participants.

>>Look at non-traditional ideas (from other industries):

  • Learn from fishing industry’s national campaign www.takemefishing.com
  • Cycling / Running industry – Charity events have saved them. www.pmc.org
  • Challenges (such as Tough Mudders and Spartan races) to encourage the elite athlete and the first timer wanting a “finisher” shirt.

Raul Pinto (Satellite Board Shop):

>>Create the “surfline.com site” for the snowsports industry.

>>Increase participation during shoulder seasons.

>>Open the Snow Show to the public to build community ( and create consumer events).

Henrik Lampert (Free Skier):

>>Increase the BAF effectiveness by engaging the core, providing incentives for the core, educating them about the health of the industry.

>>Engage parents to get their kids away from electronic devices, off the couch, and toward more healthy activities.

>>The key to engaging weather reporters is to do some strategic spending on advertising in key markets.

>>National campaigns can be effective and done in less costly ways, billboards, car/drivers, etc.

>>Tap into the college-age participant.

>>Create a national event, similar to Yacht Week, appealing to numerous groups involving a week of skiing.

Mike Hardaker (Mountain Weekly):

>>Be mindful of the goal of increasing participation during winter of all types of outdoor winter activities: fat bikes, walking dogs, snowshoe, etc. not just skier/riders and visits to a resort hill.

>>Engaging the very young (looking toward building the lifelong participant).

>>Don’t overlook ethnic groups in our marketing.

>>A campaign to get outside and be healthy.

Jay Badgley (Phunkshun Wear):

>>Amplifies the notion that the amount of local initiatives is impressive.

>>Speaks to the importance of making those first experiences very high quality with enthusiastic people supporting the first timer.

>>Encourages the focus to shift from gear mania by heroes in hero conditions (deep pow off a heli run) to FUN for real people in real situations.

>>Likes the idea of the “How I got into snowsports campaign.”

>>Supports concept of pursuing the ski week (music, festivals, etc., create some sort of award for the participant).

>>Supports “consumer days” for consumer oriented events, not at industry oriented events (which typically leads to bad experiences on both sides).

Richard Bothwell (AIARE):

>>Participants have a unique reason for why they participate.

>>Speaks to the lifelong aspect.

>>Calls for supporting the concept of SIA having the industry website like “surfline.com.”

>>Calls for supporting the involvement of the consumer at “tradeshow-like” events.

>>Consumers generally do not know who SIA is, but that could change from experiences at SIA events.

–Continue to follow along here and via SIA emails, Town Halls and social media to help us grow participation industry-wide!

Todd Walton

Todd Walton is the director of communications and marketing at SIA.