Mountain Tech Symposium Goes Digital for 2020 Event

The 2020 Mountain Technology Symposium will be a digital event this year!

The Event planning committee and National Ski Areas Association reached this decision given the current world climate, uncertainty of the ability to hold large gatherings, tight budgets and furloughed staff at many resorts. Though we are disappointed we will not see everyone in person, it is a tech conference so lets use some tech! Nobody needs more Zoom meetings in their life now, so rest assured that we are working to create engaging content and topics.

Many of us are finding that technology is, simultaneously, the saving grace and Achilles heel of our operations. While this has always been the case, now more than ever we are tasked with finding out how to use technology to keep our operations safely chugging along (for both front and back of house!) We are all being challenged to come up with solutions to existing and new problems, many times on less than full staffing levels and operating levels. How we respond to this opportunity will truly define how well we fare in the brave new digital world. Utilizing technology to solve new business problems, streamline booking, re-loading and fulfillment in a touchless-centric way are great goals. Now their importance is at the forefront of our ability to transact business and keep our guests safe when visiting our resorts.

We have a little time before winter starts, and software vendors are rising to the challenge and working with resorts to fast-track new programs that will assist us in having a successful 20/21 winter season. Our colleagues in the Southern Hemisphere have already learned several valuable lessons about operations during a global pandemic. These lessons and some new approaches to traditional guest services are sure to be a big part of our discussions this year.


We want to hear what topics you want to talk about this year,  please take our survey of Resort Tech Challenges.  

Have a topic that cant wait for Mtn Tech Symposium?

Join the Reddit discussion today /r/MountainTechnology/

This year more than ever, we need your participation to get the conversation going. Encouraging collaboration as well as having fun while exploring technical problems is what the Mountain Technology Symposium is all about. This year’s input method is just a bit different.

Stay tuned to for more details on event registration, agenda details and content and sponsorship announcements. We look forward to hearing what you have to add to the conversation!


Ski Industry API standards group – an amazing gift you were totally not expecting…

Amazing news today!
Headed up by a select group of resorts and software vendors, an initiative is currently underway to create a new Application Programming Interface (API) Standards specification that software system providers can adhere to, and solution architects can easily consume. The intent is to address the need for aggregating disparate systems in an effort to build “best of breed” solutions while retaining the ability to integrate legacy and/or monolithic systems, concurrently, and seamlessly. The development of this new Standards specification is rapidly gaining momentum, the cadence is quick, an overarching core tenet is openness, adherence is encouraged, and guidance is forthcoming. Look forward to an initial draft of this new Standards specification some time in 2020.

So Much to Talk About

Who’s excited to talk tech?! I sure am. We have so many productive topics coming to the table. So many ultra-qualified people and organizations to be part of those discussions. And, from what I’ve seen and heard, an absolutely amazing site at which to hold them.

Discussion topics are pending. And, frankly, we want you to be influential to what they are and how they unfold. However, many vendors, sponsors, and industry leaders have committed to involvement. Here are some to look for. (In order of appearance, as the schedule stands.)

The schedule is posted here. Only minor details remain to be finalized, so keep an eye

Due to feedback from past attendees, adjustments have been made to the symposium’s format. After all, this event is for you! Expect a higher degree of involvement (as you wish); we have scheduled more time for round table discussions, with mild moderation integrated. Also, carefully picked industry experts are queued up to kick off some thought provoking topics, designed to potentially seed further discussion. Who knows? You might end up deploying solutions you never thought you would before!

Besides business accomplishments, Jay Peak is going to have some fun in store for us, as well! I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t wait to jump into that waterpark. Here are some photos.

Many other exciting things are happening this year. Take part in all the fun and conversation at the 2019 Mountain Technology Symposium at Jay Peak, VT. October 2nd through the 4th. Register now!

As with prior years, special room rates are available for the event. Studios start at $110/night, 1 bedroom units from $160/night, and 2 bedroom from $230/night. When booking online at, be sure and specify group code 805352. Or if you prefer to call in your reservation, call 800-451-4449 and mention the Mountain Technology Symposium rates or the same group code. These rates have limited availability (Sunday, September 29th through the Sunday, October 6th). As an added bonus, event registration includes discounts that are also good before, during, and after the event is over. Thanks, Jay Peak.

We’ll see you in October.

Are you interested in hosting the 2020 Mountain Technology Symposium? Want to be part of the team? Please inquire here.

Keeping Culture Caught Up

Our end-user friends need an upgrade

“And here comes Technology, screaming ahead of the pack! Seems like no one can keep up with her, Bob.”

“I know what you mean, Jim. We’ve got Sys Admin trailing behind, trying to keep up. She sure does her best.”

“And then there’s End User. Way back there! Leaning up against a tree, smoking a cigarette. That guy really doesn’t know just how far behind he is, does he, Bob?”

“He sure doesn’t, Jim.”

For those of you that have been in IT since before it was called IT, you possibly remember the people that would say something like, “Yeah, I know just enough to be dangerous,” and then laugh. Because it was so funny when they broke things due to overconfidence. Problems that you had to fix.

One of our biggest challenges in technology management is born from this type of person still existing, combined with the fact that s/he is in a new, changed world—a much more dangerous one. A world where individuals and organizations alike are losing money, time, integrity. Under-education of users, careless computer usage, and lack of leadership to improve these things is resulting in far worse consequences than an eye roll from your company’s computer guy. Does your organization hold data that includes the names and addresses of children? Mine does. Being dangerous with the computer is not funny anymore.

For just a moment, I’m going to skip the part about the personal information of you and your loved ones being at risk. Let’s touch on financial risk. On October 21st, 2016, a double whammy DDoS attack brought down the internet for most of the East Coast. A botnet was engineered to take advantage of vulnerabilities in tens of millions of IoT devices. If we wanted to lay blame, some might point a finger at the assailants, stating that the attack was immensely complex. We might also consider the premiere victim, DNS services, and contemplate what could have been done on that end to avoid the attack.

If you research this event, one thing you may come across is blame upon the difficulty of changing default passwords. That is one useful perspective: don’t assume the skill level of end users. No argument from me there. But I’d like to present another angle that I believe to be equally legitimate and useful. If you never put the crutch away, you will always need the crutch. Largely, common users of technology have not been “taught to fish”. Those IoT devices can have the most robust, in-your-face, Credential Change Me mechanism ever, but the world is still wandering on dangerous ground when individuals don’t take charge of their own safety.

It’s hard to say what the economic damages were from the 2016 outage, but global damages were estimated at over $5 billion from just ransomware in 2017.

Here’s a recent bit from 60 Minutes on ransomware.

“Well, Jim, we can’t just walk onto the track and tell End User he’s in a race, can we?”

No, Bob. It wouldn’t be appropriate, or realistic, for me to go deeply into anthropological and psychological science. However, culture wasn’t created in college. Change starts with thinking outside the box, and is deployed when charismatic folk take action. We are leaders within our organizations, and have the potential to affect that culture. It doesn’t start with a mass email that will be deleted by 90% of recipients. And, no, it doesn’t start with a newsletter article, either. It starts with talking. Chatting with your users on their level. Discussing things they understand, like how there are sick people in this world that we don’t want acquiring personal information, especially that of our youth.

On the subject of training and communication, it’s important to remember that this “user’s level” I’m speaking of is not “lower”. Just different. In many cases, the end user truly doesn’t know they’re in that race. And often when we try to tell them how to keep up—to take precautions and self-educate—they think we’re paranoid, or that we should put them in a cart and push them down the track. The real challenge is showing people that information technology is not a thing that should always and forever be used by many and fixed by few, and that using devices should be as simple as pushing the buttons and waiting for it to do what is desired. We’re not doing users any favors by being the company computer guy, telling the person to “Move!”, then rebooting for them. If someone is hired to drive a car, and then say, “Oh, I’m not very good at this,” and expect someone to drive it for them, the employer will wonder why they applied for the job in the first place; if the employer is kind, they attempt some training. The personal computer is not new technology anymore. It’s been at large for over 30 years.

With both IoT and malicious internet activity accelerating, one of the most important upgrades we should be thinking about is an upgrade to the culture of technology usage. Let’s stop holding hands and walking people down the path, and start showing them the path. Show them the world they live in.

Take part in this conversation and many more at the 2019 Mountain Technology Symposium at Jay Peak, VT. October 2nd through the 4th.
Register now!

Scenes from Prior MTS Events

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Spring 2019 NSAA conference in San Diego! We wanted to share some info from prior Mountain Technology Symposium conferences to give you an idea of what you can expect in 2019 at the Jay Peak event. We are continuing to develop the 2019 schedule. You can have a look at the current 2019 schedule here

Click here to see the photo gallery from the 2018 event held in Sun Valley.

Click here to see the 2018 event schedule

Click here to see the 2017 event schedule


A Helping Hand for Hospitality

We are technology professionals. Our knowledge and skill-sets spread all over aspects of business and personal life. But what do we do? We configure things. Push buttons. Stare at screens until our eyes hurt. But at the end of the day, our core function in business is not rebooting frozen workstations or telling people how to do things they can find online. We provide solutions. And if a company is utilizing us properly and fully, these can be solutions to “problems” the company doesn’t even know it has.

The hospitality industry needs to get people through doors and
gates. It needs to take money, keep customers safe, give basic information, and
probably provide some set of products and services. These are things that
almost all businesses do. You know where I’m going with this; hospitality is,
by its very nature, more than that. Hotel staff can and want to give
people smiles as they’re going through the door. Ski area safety personnel don’t
just want skiers to be safe, they
want them to feel safe. The job is
getting done right when the customer feels that information is readily
available without being invasive or obnoxious. Our business is beyond products
and services. It’s experience!

Now, I could go into an essay of elaborate parables and metaphors that map the hospitality business to what we do in our services to the folks with whom we work. And then most of you would roll your eyes at how much of a stretch it all was until you just stopped reading. But in all seriousness, I think we can at least take some cues from the business model that provides us jobs.

As IT personnel, we need to get people through
doors and gateways. We need to keep their data safe, guide them to Google, and
empower them to take money. Our list of necessary services to the company we
work for is longer than what is provided by that same company. Just sayin’.

Technology professionals, when doing the
job right, want to do more! We want VPs and execs to feel like their company is
safe (in part by educating them on what dangers there are). We want to increase
productivity, efficiency, and bottom-line through quality solutions, not just
what one can get from common or
popular platforms. An IT department is the best it can be when staff are well
informed, easily finding the documentation and training they need. And last but
not least, I know I’m not the only one who wants to help my colleagues make the
journey through the seasons enjoyable. Who doesn’t want less stress?!

This is why we invented the Mountain
Technology Symposium. We are a community of professionals that truly want to be
a part of creating an experience full of smiles. So as winter operations come
to a close, and you watch all your company’s teams do their best to keep up
momentum through to the end, ask yourself this: will in-person collaboration do
anything but help us grow?

Unless you are that one person that
doesn’t have any use of a helping hand from an industry colleague, please join
us at the Mountain
Technology Symposium
, October 2nd through 4th,
2019 in Jay Peak, Vermont! Register

Keep an eye out for the May newsletter.
I’ll be featuring either a sponsor or a committee member or both, and their
contributions to the symposium and the industry.