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Ski show stays fresh, Vail Valley’s Menconi says

Arn Menconi
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailySeth Ehrlich, development director for SOS Outreach, Mike Carey, chairman of the SnowSports Industry America and the Vail Valley's Arn Menconi, executive director of SOS Outreach and former Eagle County commissioner at the trade show in Las Vegas.
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LAS VEGAS ” After spending last week in Utah at the Outdoor Retailers show, the transition to the SnowSports Industry America show in Las Vegas was one that seemed to both invite and defy comparisons.

Naturally, there are a number of differences between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, as there are between the two conventions themselves. But what seemed more interesting was what the two shows had in common.

Wendy Carey, the chief financial officer of Seirus Innovation, has been attending shows like SnowSports Industry America since 1980.

“The thing that struck me was that the energy level is very high, and that’s a positive thing because we all know the economic news isn’t really good overall, but within the industry there continues to be success,” she said.

Carey said that although the snowsports industry has evolved a great deal in the last 29 years, the one thing that has remained the same are people’s passions for winter games.

“Today the sophistication in the way people do business, and the technology that’s available, has changed dramatically,” she said, “but what hasn’t changed is that everyone here got in it because they love skiing and snowsports.”

Beth Cochran, director of marketing for Chaos, agreed the advent of the Internet age has changed the rules of the marketing game, and her company has taken advantage of the shifting landscape.

“Accessories and clothes have been very strong for Chaos,” she said. “We’re actually up 40 percent through cross-marketing initiatives, which means having a presence in regional programs like SOS Outreach, events with the Vail Valley Foundation events like Birds of Prey, or the Mountain Dew vertical challenge.”

Cochran said economic conditions have taken their toll on some industry vendors, who are still able to attend the convention, but do so with a reduced staff.

“The show is irreplaceable in terms of being able to meet face-to-face with regular clients and establishing new program connections,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of the small specialty shops become part of larger buying groups to survive, so there’s certainly a benefit to people pulling together in these conditions.”

Carey said there have been a number of consolidations, which resulted in several large companies, but smaller shops still wield an impact beyond their economic influence.

“There are a lot of the very big companies here, but there’s still a lot of the young, innovative and interesting companies here as well, which helps keep the industry fresh,” she said.

This year’s SnowSports Industry America show is the last one that will be held in Las Vegas. Cochran said she felt a number of people would make a concerted effort to attend for that reason alone, while Carey looked ahead to next year.

“We’re very excited about the move to Denver next year. Even though people generally don’t like change, the move to Denver is a very positive thing for the industry because of the connection with a community that embraces skiing like Denver does,” she said. “Overall it will be a great boost for the industry and a very positive change.”


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