Park City Mountain Resort doesn’t anticipate ski season staffing shortages
The ski industry was hit hard last year, but officials hope new initiatives bring in workers
From crowded slopes, long lift lines and closed terrain, Parkites felt the impacts of the national labor shortage on the ski industry last winter. But with opening day at Park City Mountain Resort scheduled in November, resort leaders remain optimistic they’ll have adequate staffing to provide a great guest experience this season.
Deirdra Walsh, the vice president and chief operating officer of PCMR, said workforce challenges were prevalent throughout the hospitality and tourism industries, and the problems at PCMR were taking place across parent company Vail Resorts’ locations. Vail Resorts admitted earlier this year it had “fallen short” of creating a positive experience for workers at the company, but the issues of the 2021-2022 ski season have led to new initiatives designed to improve working conditions.
“It’s always a little soon to start to totally predict what the staffing will be for this winter, but by all accounts, the metrics that we have coming in are all positive. We feel really good about going into the winter for a lot of our key roles,” she said in an interview with The Park Record on Tuesday.
One of Walsh’s top priorities as the new leader at PCMR is putting employees first. When employees reach a level of understanding where they are happy and satisfied at work, she said, that allows them to better serve guests and improve the overall mountain experience.
Walsh pointed to Vail Resorts’ $175 million investment in employees, which includes increasing the minimum hourly wage from $15 to $20 and a commitment to providing affordable employee housing in mountain towns. She said the decision to address compensation, in particular, has increased traction with applications. The resort has also improved its internal systems to help move candidates around and fill more positions.
Another key driver to staffing is the new workforce housing at Canyons Village that’s opening this winter
The Slopeside Village development will house around 1,100 workers, including more than 400 PCMR employees. Officials from Summit County and the Canyons Village Master Association, which directs the base area’s development, are partnering with the resort for the project. Walsh said the project’s proximity to bus routes and the resort’s base area makes it an ideal place to live. Others involved say it will help the affordable housing shortage while addressing traffic-lined roads.
“I can’t express how excited we are for that to come online. This is the first year so it’s exciting, not just for the resort, but for the entire community,” Walsh said. “When 1,100 beds come online, that’s really transformational in a lot of ways.”
Other incentives include wellness programs, which are available to the employee as well as roommates, a 40% discount on retail purchases and career-building opportunities.
By improving the experience for workers and boosting morale, Walsh anticipates guests will benefit in return. She said her background in hospitality and social work allows her to remain flexible and adaptable – which are crucial to the job – while enabling the people on the ground to do their best work.
Many choose to work in Park City, specifically PCMR, because it has a lot of options and offers a sense of belonging that employees desire, Walsh said. The resort’s core mission to “have fun” also resonates with people.
Walsh previously worked as the senior director of mountain dining at PCMR and returned to Utah after three years as the vice president and general manager of the Northstar California Resort in North Lake Tahoe – another property owned by Vail Resorts.
“The ski industry is unpredictable in nature,” she said. “I try to be really accessible to employees and I want to be able to ensure that their point of view is heard and that they are the heart and soul of the mountain at the end of the day.”
The smell of roasted almonds. Crowds. Being surrounded by foreign languages. Trading Olympic pins. Leaving a legacy. These are what Parkites think about when remembering the 2002 Winter Games.
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