Resort Technology Partners (RTP) is a Colorado software company that supplies software for ticket machines and retail businesses. It is used by ski or resort companies around the globe.
Each year, the company brings clients and vendors to Vail to discuss the future trends of the business.
Among those attending was Paul LeRoue, CEO of the Telocity Group. It is his job to get ski leaders thinking like a genius.
"People are stuck right now in this bad economy and they need help breaking through to get that innovative idea," LeRoue said.
To do that, he takes the group and breaks away from the usual conference setting. Then he puts people at tables to open their creative thinking.
"We're having them revisit the core of their creativity and express it," LeRoue said.
Teams, like those with Deb Stansell from Booth Creek Resorts, are given questions they have to solve in a creative way.
"Our question is: 'Given women's take with responsibility for planning family vacations, how can resorts make themselves more attractive for women's concerns and interest?'" Stansell said.
Then, just like they did when they were kids, the adults grabbed scissors to cut out pictures and weird shapes, and used tape to make models. Some are abstract and others are realistic. The models represent their ideas.
"The amazing part of this is they probably haven't worked this way since kindergarten, but we forget in the modern business world to communicate without words and that's what we want them to do," LeRoue said.
All the models look pretty strange, more like someone's bad hair day, with random parts sticking out, and pictures taped to the ends of sticks or string.
But if you look closely, you can see inside the minds of the industry executives who built them. More importantly, says Michael McDermott with RTP, you can see how they see the future of skiing.
"[We're] trying to figure out how we're going to evolve and merge companies and resorts to attract the next generation of participants," McDermott said.
It is the big question for the ski industry as fewer baby boomers ski, how do you use technology to attract the next generation of skiers.
"Not only attract them to the resort but bring them together at the resort and use social media to share their experiences that they had on their adventures of the day," McDermott said.
That is why at many of the tables, many ideas and models center around theme park attractions.
One shows a zip line, and clay figure paragliding, while another has a box with wiggly fingers sticking out of it, representing worm compost for kids to learn about nature.
LeRoue is excited to see all of this because, after helping other industries with break through ideas, he is hoping the next genius idea for the ski industry will come from the models being built.
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