Meeting of the Minds—The YC Interconnect

Most snow pros are aware of Interski, the international congress of ski and snowboard instruction held every four years at various locations around the globe. But what would happen if U.S. ski and snowboard schools convened annually to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the American snowsports scene right here at home?

That’s exactly what happened last February (and will happen again this season, in early March 2013) at the otherwise members-only Yellowstone Club in Montana.

Named the YC Interconnect, this snow pros summit is the creation of Yellowstone Club’s Director of Outdoor Pursuits, Dan Lakatos, who wanted to create an open forum where like-minded professionals could exchange ideas promoting ski and snowboard lessons to the public, and also helping them excel at their jobs.  The event is by invitation only, and includes ski and snowboard school directors, supervisors, and seasoned ski and snowboard professionals.

When asked about the event, Lakatos said, “Let’s face it, we’re in a ‘high-touch’ industry where successful pros not only need to possess deep technical knowledge, but they must also have the ability to foster authentic client relationships through strong interpersonal skills.”

He added, “To me, the YC Interconnect is about sharing ideas and best practices which provide insight into what consistently works in creating meaningful guest experiences—both on and off snow.”

YC Interconnect 2012 was well attended with representation from Beaver Creek Ski & Snowboard School, Telluride Ski & Ride School, Park City Mountain Resort, Moonlight Basin, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Big Sky Resort, Portillo, Chile, and, of course, the Yellowstone Club itself. PSIA-AASI Executive Director and CEO Mark Dorsey, as well as ASEA Chairman Eric Sheckleton were also in attendance.

“YC Interconnect 2012 was a memorable experience. It combined inspiration with exploration by allowing time for presentations from some of the leaders in our industry, as well as time spent brainstorming with other individuals dedicated to excellence in guest service,” said Sheckleton. “Combine this with amazing skiing and you have a winning formula.”

Discussions included ideas for utilizing social networks, dealing with the growing popularity of the family private lesson, best hiring practices, and ways of creating a positive culture within the ski and snowboard school. The topic of attracting high net-worth clientele made for relevant discussion as well.

PSIA Alpine Team Captain and Hotel Portillo Operations Manager Michael Rogan, who attended the inaugural event, said, “The YC Interconnect was an awesome opportunity to network with members of the ski industry that are concerned with the same issues that we face in Portillo…It was very much worth the time and effort.”

The attendees were welcomed by the Yellowstone Club’s most recognizable member, Warren Miller, who signed books and reminded everyone of the value instructors provide in promoting skiing and snowboarding to the public, and of creating a lifelong passion for the sport.

Resort developer and former President of Vail Resorts, Mountain Division Roger D. McCarthy, delivered a keynote presentation discussing how schools can and should add personality, customization, and charm to what McCarthy calls the otherwise “industrial ski experience.”

Teaching pros and ski and snowboard school directors interested in attending YC Interconnect 2013 should email outdoorpursuits@yellowstoneclub.com by November 15th, indicating their desire to attend, along with the names and positions of the desired participants. All inquiries will be reviewed and responded to promptly.

-- Eric Lipton, PSIA Alpine Team (Editor's Note: Eric Lipton is employed by the Yellowstone Club).

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