AlpineZone Challenge 2005 – Alex Kaufman of Attitash

The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Alex Kaufman, Resort Communications Manager of Attitash in Bartlett, New Hampshire, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 5/18/2005

Bob R: Alex, I brought my family there this year during New Hampshire School Vacation week and enjoyed the Mountain Dew Vertical challenge. Do you plan to have other activities during that week again? I ask because most activities took place the prior week for Massachusetts School Vacation.

Alex Kaufman: You are correct in that the Mass Vacation week is fully loaded with activities as part of our Winterfest line up. Our event calendar for the NH Vacation week of next season is not 100% set in stone at this point but there is the potential for the return on Mt Dew and also the addition of a slopestyle event in the Thad’s Choice Park. Either way, we plan to have activities during that week, even if they are not as jam packed as the week prior. I hope your kids were able to enjoy the free Mt Dew in moderation. :)

thetrailboss: How has the discounted ASC Season Pass program impacted Attitash? Do you find that there are problems with too many passholders showing up during weekends or other days? Did you find there was too much traffic for the snow to handle?

Alex Kaufman: One thing I noticed day in and day out at Attitash that was different than any other eastern resort (and I’ve been to most) was a lack of substantial lift lines. We just couldn’t seem to get them, even on days when we were as busy as we could hope to be. Our uphill capacity from the base of the resort is well suited to minimize lift lines. The All For One Pass didn’t detract from the experience even on the traditionally busiest days of the year because of the select blackout days on the Bronze and Silver versions. At 2 pm on a Saturday, the main trails ski a bit differently than they did at 8 am, but that’s true anywhere, regardless of what sort of ticket people are using. We also have a minimal amount of crossover trails compared to some other resorts, which reduces bottleneck areas.

dmc: Have you resolved the issues with scanning the new style passes?

Alex Kaufman: We’re constantly working to make the scanning process as smooth as possible. As with any program in it’s first year there were a few kinks to work out and I’m confident that scanning will be less of an issue next season. There is a lot of technology behind the process that I admit I’m not that familiar with, but our IT department is on the ball and they’re going to keep dialing it in.

BeanoNYC: Alex, Will the Perfect Turn be offering some advanced group lessons next season? I wouldn’t want my free non-transferable group lessons vouchers that I received from buying my All For One Pass Gold to go to waste.

Alex Kaufman: We currently offer advanced group lessons. We don’t offer specialty clinics like bumps, park and pipe etc as group lessons. Those are available for purchase as privates only.

loafer89: Are there any plans to replace the summit triple chair with a high speed quad?

Alex Kaufman: Are there plans? Yes – actually a well thought out plan. Will it happen by next season? No. Before any lift upgrade can happen to the summit we’ll need to cut more trails off the summit to accommodate the increased skier traffic. Much of the land above the Attitash base is National Forest land meaning we can’t cut trees as we please so to speak. I personally like the Summit Triple as it keeps down the amount of skiers on my favorite trails. Classic New England runs like Ptarmigan, Wilfred’s Gawm and Tim’s Trauma would feel the effects of a high speed lift.

Greg: The Attitash Ebay Auction certainly was a unique idea. From a marketing standpoint, what did the mountain expect to acheive from this promotion, and did you succeed? Are you considering doing it again next season? Also, how did the celebrations for the 40th Anniversary fare?

Alex Kaufman: We expected the idea of a private ski area for a day to be appealing. It was appealing enough that a Boston businessman placed the highest bid of $5,400 and invited 1500 members of the Boston public service community to take part. The total number of bids was around 30. We sold the day after the resort closed for the season so our regular guests were not impacted. It also got many folks to “think Attitash” from all the news coverage, which is never a bad thing. I won’t divulge our plans for another auction at this time. Sorry Greg. :)

To your next question – The 40th Anniversary of Attitash was quite an undertaking with the 40 day nonstop event calendar, and I’d say it went well, with a bunch of help from Mother Nature giving us loads of snow. The finale night went well. The founding fathers of the resort deserved to be commemorated and our 40th anniversary was a great time to do just that.
What feedback have you received as a result of Attitash dropping “Bear Peak” from its name?

Greg: Has there been any confusion as a result? How about the new logo? What has been the reaction to that? Do you feel you’ve acheived your goals from these two identity changes?

Alex Kaufman: It has taken some work to get the Bear Peak out of rotation. It’s still out there on random websites, print material, and even groups that we work with call us by the longer version on occasion. But overall it’s been a change that needed to happen. Originally we wanted people to know we had two mountains, and the old name accomplished that. However, people still referred to us as Attitash when discussing where they went skiing or where they planned to go. The new logo is much cleaner and will pay dividends in the long run as it is easily identifiable from afar and a pleasure to stick on your car. We wanted to get back to how our skiers and riders see us, and they see us as Attitash. I’m told that there is a men’s shoe (looks like a moccasin) that is named Attitash, but I doubt it will cause any problems with our brand identity.

Greg: Alex, as a former Killington employee, how does working at Attitash (a sibling ASC resort of Killington) compare to your experience at Killington? What “behind-the-scenes” operations at Killington are better run as compared to Attitash and vice versa? I also understand you’ve spent time at Sugarbush, Vail and Steamboat, Colorado. What aspects of your former positions in the ski industry have you applied to your new position at Attitash?

Alex Kaufman: Wait am I interviewing for a job here? Just kidding. Good question, but one you can understand I’ll be able to answer in part. The resorts run differently, mostly because they are very different. At Attitash many employees are involved in many different aspects of the operation versus Killington which needs more hands on deck to run smoothly because of its’ size. There are times when as a PR person at Attitash, I not only talk up the resort and all it’s events, deals, and selling points, but also think up new events and see them through so that I have additional content. The Spread Eagle World Championship was a good example of that, though I did have to don the neon one-piece suit. As far as my time in and around the industry elsewhere, it was mostly outside of the ski areas themselves. I was tuning skis, waiting tables, competing freestyle, and cleaning a lot of golf clubs. Resort communities all have some common threads and the experience allows me to see the industry from the perspective of many of our guests.

Katahdin: What effect will the new Bear Creek Development have on Attitash? Will the new trail(s) be lift serviced and will they become part of Attitash’s terrain?

Alex Kaufman: I believe you’re speaking of Bearfoot Creek. Little has been set in stone regarding this development. There has been talk of the developers building a lift which would connect the houses to the Abenaki Quad loading area on Bear Peak. But like I said, there has been talk. No final answers have been reached at this point.

thebigo: Let me start by saying that Attitash has been one of my favorite ski destinations for years, but I do have one frustration though. Like most of the skiing public I use online condition reports to decide where to ski every weekend. Twice this year I drove to Attitash, bought a ticket and jumped on the lift to find my favorite trail, ‘Avenger,’ was being used as a race course. Is there anyway that trails being used as race courses could be indicated on your webpage? Admittedly you might lose my ticket sale for that day but the skiing public will reward honesty in the long run.

Alex Kaufman: That is a frequent comment and one that we have taken steps to address. We live in a world of abbreviated snow reports in newspapers and web services that only list trail counts, which many people use to make their skiing and riding decisions for days in advance. On those services we tend not to bounce our trail count around due to races that usually don’t last all day and prospective guests might interpret as “hmmn everyone else is 100% open why not Attitash?” We started this action last season: On days when we know a trail such as Illusion or Avenger will be closed all day for a race we will make mention of it on our email snow report and the boards that are posted around the resort. Our paper reports that are faxed around the northeast have note about it in the comments section as well. Basically anywhere we can explain why we have 69 instead of 70 trails open. Our website also gets the info in those circumstances, but only on the day of the event and when we know it will be closed all day. It will continue to be noted, but I don’t think it will become a headline.

Thanks everyone.

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