What do you get when you gather minds from
all over the world to discuss what can be done with technology to grow the ski and
hospitality industries? Collaboration? Solutions? Fun? The attendees at the
2018 Mountain Technology Symposium in Sun Valley, ID might give you a dozen
different answers. And then they would debate the correct answer for hours
until everyone still disagreed—because they are IT.
After the success of the inaugural event
in Telluride, CO, the symposium committee of seven decided that continuation of
the event was justified. For three too-short days during the weekend of Oct 13,
2018, IT experts from 4 countries, 22 ski resorts, all from 23 states and
provinces, met in a beautiful Idaho area called Sun Valley. Our goal was to
drive technology for resorts and hospitality facilities at a rate no one can do
alone. The achievement of such a goal is difficult to quantify or grade, but
when collaboration and communication between colleagues has increased, and new
topic ideas explode onto an agenda for the next symposium, general success is
The brain child for the first symposium in
Telluride was Benjamin Whiting, IS Director. Chris Jaquet, Software Specialist
for the same resort, took on planning, coordination, and a list of other
cornerstone responsibilities too long to list in a magazine article. Between
these two professionals and the rest of the symposium committee, they hit it
out of the park. Compliments from attendees hardly stopped. Sponsors and
presenters alike were more than satisfied with the turnout.
As one would expect, year one of the event
was not flawless. Not all presenters were precisely aware of the desired
presentation focus. There were some great speakers, and several sessions were
both insightful and useful, but not everyone delivered problem, concept, and
solution. Beyond that, from a higher level, the whole event was not exactly
what it could have been for maximum benefit. In short, the hosts just didn’t
yet know precisely what that was—what this seminar could be.
Due to dozens of discussion, loads of
feedback, and one survey, these shortcomings were fixed for year two.
Presenters not only discussed solutions, but also thought provoking concepts.
Even the speakers that were praised in 2017 brought further improvements and
fresh ideas to their sequel speeches. The community effort shaped year two into
something that gave that community a greater awakening to the benefit a
resort-focused technology conference than many imagined was possible.
The keynote by Sun Valley’s CEO, Tim
Silva, was focused on the state of the industry and some fundamental challenges
at its core. Let’s face it. Someone
has to keep the professional goals of the technically minded aimed at the right
target or they’d end up building brilliant machines that do amazingly expensive
things that, well, might not perfectly serve the customer or the bottom line.
Ultimately Mr. Silva expressed his appreciation for the event and how valuable
he felt it was.
The symposium was not just about work,
though. After a person has visited several mountain ranges around the
continent, it’s difficult to rank them. Suffice to say, the views at Sun Valley
are as uniquely beautiful as the rest. And as a business, the resort provides
an impressive variety of activities and hospitality accommodations, including
an ice rink, a shooting range, bowling, and a wide range of fine dining
No matter how much both Sun Valley and
Telluride were adored, variety is at the root of inspiration. Year three of the
Mountain Technology Symposium will take place at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont.
2019’s location has all the needed facilities and conveniences, as well as a
full stack of bonus optional activities. The proximity to hundreds of hotel
rooms, a reasonable drive to the Burlington airport, multiple linked conference
rooms in walking distance from lodging should provide exemplary accommodations.
To top off the experience, plenty of dining options, an 18 hole golf course,
self-belay climbing for any skill level, and the Clips & Reels movie
theater, the Pump House Water Park for all ages and categories of humans! It’s
a good thing ski resort staff know how to balance work and fun.
After observing and experiencing the freshman and sophomore years of the Mountain Technology Symposium, including front row seats as a committee member myself, I’m not sure the junior year will be perfect. But I’m predicting it will be close. Don’t miss out! Keep an eye on mountainsymposium.com for updates on details. See you in October!