Opportunities, Challenges and Fun Explored at SAM Summer Ops Camp

The four-season masterpiece of Quebec’s Tremblant ski resort was the host site for this year’s SAM Summer Ops Camp, an immersive multi-day event designed to help ski resort operators grow their business summer. 7-9. Over 80 operators, suppliers and experts were on hand to experience a variety of unique activities, learn from several educational sessions and network with each other.

Tremblant was chosen as the host site for its many summer offerings, including a ZipTrek Ecotours zipline excursion, Moment Factory “Tonga Lumina Night Walk”, Le Luge downhill run, beautiful base village, and more. Campers also discovered nearby attractions such as a via ferrata and The Trekking Group’s new net attraction, Upla; Scandinavian Spa; and the new Promenade des Cimes Laurentides.

On opening night, Tremblant President and CEO Patrice Malo detailed what has made the resort a successful four-season business for many years. To build a strong summer business, he said, operators must “build a critical mass of environmentally friendly attractions and events, delivering compelling stories and unique experiences,” while gradually adapting operating structures and staffing models.

Day two began with a summer operations trends briefing led by Paul Cummings of Strategic Adventures and Claire Humber of SE Group, who interviewed leaders of summer and all-weather attraction companies from around the world. A theme throughout the discussion was that summer guests are a very broad demographic and may not have much experience with outdoor activities.

“Everyone comes outdoors at a different level – experience, ability, background, expectations – and for many people getting out and enjoying the beautiful outdoor environment is a new thing,” Humber said. As such, it pays off if your summer activities appeal to a wide user group.

Next, members of the Insights Collective think tank examined the assumptions and forces at play that are changing the future of the four-season business. The group of data crunchers discussed various factors that impact travel, tourism and destination communities, including the economy, consumer confidence, housing, staffing, politics, environment and much more.

Carl Ribaudo of the SMG Consulting Collective suggested a balanced approach between promotion and environmental behavior in messages to potential visitors. “Instead of just saying ‘Come here and let it rip’ in your marketing, set expectations — make sure visitors understand how to take care of a place before they get there,” Ribaudo said.

An afternoon of outdoor activities followed, with campers exploring glamping tents from EJH Events and Distribution, a demonstration of LockD clips from Ropes Park Equipment, rides on Le Luge and a guided tour of Tremblant Village. .

The group then visited the brand new Treetop Walk Laurentides, a fully accessible canopy walk that ends in a spiral to the top of a 12-story tower where everyone toasted with a glass of sparkling wine and enjoyed enjoyed a 360 degree view of the mountainous landscape. . Returning to Tremblant after dark, campers embarked on the Tonga Lumina Night Walk, a multimedia sensory experience through the resort woods with rich sound, lights and digital projections telling the story of the sleeping giant that inhabits the mountain.

The last morning ended with two sessions: Selling Summer and Summertime Incident Trends.

Selling Summer was led by Marie-Josée Legault from Origin Outside, Monyse Bélisle from Gendron Travel, Paul Cummings from Strategic Adventures and Claire Humber from SE Group. Experts have warned operators not to fall into the trap of assuming people know what they’re getting for what they’re paying and what the experience will be like. They suggested operators should do more to explain what the products and experiences are on their websites, and help potential customers plan by guiding them more effectively in advance.

Cummings raised the issue of companies using the same nomenclature to describe different things and using different nomenclature to describe similar things. “The indoor family entertainment center ‘adventure park’ is not the same as an outdoor adventure park, and it’s confusing for people,” he said. Clear messages and advice are essential.

Tim Bruce of insurer Safehold Special Risk and Marie-Anick Tourillon, who does risk management for the Association des stations de ski du Québec, discussed incident trends, leading causes and how to mitigate incidents that result in claims.

Staffing has been a big discussion when it comes to incident trends. The importance of thorough training was underscored by both experts, particularly given data presented by Tourillon showing that newly installed activities and attractions tend to generate more complaints. She said there is a learning curve for new operations.

The SAM team would like to thank everyone who came to Summer Ops Camp this year. Next year the event will be held at a western location to be determined. Stay tuned.