Park City tourism leaders connect at annual forum | ParkRecord.com

Park City tourism leaders connect at annual forum

Ski leaders say they're optimistic heading into season

Ski industry leaders speak at a tourism luncheon Wednesday at the Stein Erisken Lodge. From left: Nathan Rafferty with Ski Utah, Bob Wheaton with Deer Valley Resort and Bill Rock with Park City Mountain Resort.

The ski resorts are busy making snow and the restaurants are cleaning and making last-minute repairs, but many business leaders took a break from peak season prep to meet at an annual fall forum.

The Park City Chamber/Bureau hosted the Annual Tourism Industry Fall Forum and Luncheon at the Stein Eriksen Lodge on Nov. 9. Bob Wheaton, president and COO of Deer Valley Resort, Bill Rock, COO of Park City Mountain Resort, and Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of Ski Utah, all spoke to a full audience of local business owners about the upcoming season, followed by keynote speaker Kelly McDonald.

The event had great a reception, said Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, in an interview following the luncheon. He said the event is always a good reminder to everyone about the importance of tourism on the local economy.

"It's our community's DNA," he said.

The forum began with a video from Myles Rademan, director of Leadership Park City, explaining that although tourists bring traffic on the roads and in the grocery store lines, having a cynical attitude about them will only hurt Park City overall.

Malone said that the video was important to remind stakeholders in the tourism industry the importance of visitors. That way, the sentiment can trickle down into the community at large.

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"It is our industry in the community and, in some form, that's why we're all here," he said.

Malone said it is good for local business leaders to hear directly from the ski resorts, since so much of what they do affects the economy.

At the event, Wheaton said he is enthusiastic about the future of Deer Valley because of upcoming resort projects set to take place under the new multi-resort entity that recently acquired the resort.

Rock discussed PCMR's push toward sustainability and its goal to have zero net emissions by 2030. He hopes to keep the momentum Vail Resort's purchase of PCMR had on the resort in the first few years with continued improvements, like a new beginner ski and snowboard lift and trail.

Betsy Wallace, managing director of Sundance Institute, said the event was a great time to hear from the ski resorts and other business owners to know what to expect for the upcoming season.

"It's a wonderful way to network and see folks because once the season starts, we're all in our own little world," she said.

She also enjoyed listening to McDonald, who Wallace said "crossed everyone's boundaries in every industry."

McDonald is a leading expert and author in marketing and consumer trends. She focused on how to deal with customers and employees in a time when demographics and buying habits are changing so rapidly.

Malone said the speaker helped keep with the theme of reminding everyone how important the customer experience is. Tourism drives the economy in Park City, and the Chamber/Bureau wants everyone to remember that.

"It doesn't matter if you're a bank or a retail store … it's the same thing, it's about working with people," he said. "We gain a lot, not just economically, from what we do."