Mountain News: Central rez system to be studied by consultant 

WINTER PARK, Colo. — With Intrawest now in charge at Winter Park, there are suspicions that the company is trying to muscle its way into a greater share of the lodging reservations.

Compiled by Allen Best

Some even whisper that the company-operated Winter Park Central Reservations steered customers toward Intrawest properties instead of the other 32 lodging properties. As well, there seem to be fears the other lodges could be culled from the roster altogether.

In response, Intrawest has hired Ralph Garrison, of the Denver-based Advisory Group, to conduct a summer-long review of operations. The review, said Winter Park general manager Gary LaFrange, is "not an attempt to walk away from Central Reservations."

Instead, LaFrange said the review is needed to assess whether the central reservations system now used is working, particularly because travel arrangements have been changed so much by the Internet.

"I don’t know what the right format is going to be in the future, but I do know that if we don’t look into this now, we’re going to wake up three years from now, and be way behind the curve," he said.

Sue Neuman, director of central rez, said that Garrison as an independent consultant, should be able to determine if, in fact, non-Intrawest properties have been slighted.

Snowboarding slows

DENVER, Colo. — The growth of snowboarding continues to slow, although it still outpaces the growth in skiing.

From growth rates of 21 per cent at the turn of the century, the pace slowed to 11 per cent and this year is expected to slow to 5 per cent, according to Nolan Rosall, of the Boulder-based research firm, RRC Associates. Still, that growth rate will push snowboarding to more than 31 per cent of all visits to the nation’s ski hills this season.

"That is still pretty solid growth," he told The Denver Post. "It will be higher than growth in skier visits. But it’s certainly not at the rates we saw 10 years ago."

Sale of snowboards has dropped off even more, from 30 to 40 per cent gains during the late 1990s to just 4 per cent for each of the last three years, according to annual surveys by SnowSports Industries America, a trade group.

Vail Resorts’ Bill Jensen reports a 50-50 mix of skiers and snowboarders at the company’s five ski resorts.

Snow is secondary

PARK CITY, Utah — With Utah closing in on 3.4 million skiers, a record season, The Park Record began asking who and what deserves credit. Oddly, snow conditions did not top the list.

Kip Pitou, president of Ski Utah, said the message about snow is more important than the actual snow. Ski Utah doubled its purchase of national advertising to 65 pages during this winter, he said. Individual resorts now occupy spaces where the equipment manufacturers peddled their goods. Despite what the National Ski Areas Association is saying, Pitou says that the ski industry remains flat, and the business plan is everything about stealing market share away from other ski resorts.

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