Ski Area Management Graduate Certificate

Course Descriptions

NRRT 520 – Perspectives on Ski Area Management

This course is designed to introduce the student to ski area management. Emphasis is placed on understanding the historical development of the ski industry and current issues impacting ski resorts worldwide. From an historical perspective, the course will explore the early beginnings of the activity, its transition from necessity to a recreational activity, the export of skiing to the United States through in-migration from Europe, and the influence of the military in U.S. resort development. Students will examine the development of new technology and the consequent emergence of destination ski resorts, creating extensive corporate interest. The evolution of different types of skiing and boarding activities, including alpine, Nordic, freestyle, and big mountain will be discussed. Skier/boarder characteristics and motivations will also be explored. Finally, major issues facing the industry including liability concerns and demographic shifts, and their impacts on the resort industry will be examined.

NRRT 521 – Sustainable Ski Area Management

This course provides an in-depth understanding of sustainability issues that relate specifically to ski resort development and management. As an industry that is heavily reliant upon snowfall and the beauty of the natural environment, there have been increasing calls for ski areas to adopt sustainability as a core business philosophy. This goes beyond implementing various sustainability initiatives that address the impacts associated with ski area development, to the adoption of environmental management systems (EMS) that increase operational efficiency and effectiveness, emphasize corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the building of positive stakeholder relationships, and encourage a holistic approach to environmental stewardship throughout the entire resort organization. Such resort-wide efforts require sound leadership and communication to ensure the participation of all stakeholders, whether guests, employees, local communities, or shareholders, so that environmental, socio-cultural, and economic benefits can be attained. This is particularly evident in the efforts of the ski industry to address climate change, with the successful implementation and communication of adaptation and mitigation strategies the result of sound planning and economic, socio-cultural, and environmental analyses.

NRRT 522 – Ski Area Operations and Human Resources

This course examines management considerations for the successful operation of a ski area. Weekly focus is given to the various departments, and how each contributes to the ski area experience as a whole. This includes mountain operations, risk management, ski school, rental and retail operations, food and beverage service, lodging, guest services, and human resources management. Students will learn how each of these departments function, along with the various skills required to address the issues and challenges faced in everyday operations. Particular emphasis is given to staff training and recruitment, industry regulations and certification, risk management, crisis management and planning, guest communications, purchasing, stocktaking and inventory management, employee management, and dealing with seasonality. These topic areas are examined in relation to ski areas of different size and scale, and from all over the world, so that comparisons can be made regarding different management and operational procedures, regulations, and expectations.

NRRT 523 – Strategic Ski Area Marketing and Management

This course examines various management and marketing concepts essential for the successful development of strategic management and marketing plans for ski areas. Beginning with an examination of the internal and external analysis of ski areas, key strengths (core competencies), weaknesses, opportunities and threats are identified. Particular emphasis is placed on the competitive nature of the ski industry, both among ski areas and between other leisure activities, and the role of inter-resort cooperation for strategic management and marketing success. The role of marketing and management information systems in improving operational efficiency and effectiveness and collecting data on guest buying behavior for effective market segmentation, targeting and positioning is also examined. This information is helpful in developing the ski area marketing mix and considers product, pricing, packaging, promotion and distribution. Marketing and branding considerations for ski areas at regional, national, and international levels are further evaluated. This course culminates in a discussion on how the various core competencies of ski areas can be managed and marketed successfully through the development of strategic management and marketing plans.

NRRT 524 – Ski Area Finance and Investment

This course examines finance and investment considerations relevant to ski area operations and management. This requires an understanding of seasonality and climatic variability, and how these two areas affects capital structure and expenditure, cash flow, budgeting of labor and resources, and forecasting activities. The use and creation of financial statements and other performance indicators is also discussed, before exercises on working capital management and budgeting and forecasting are undertaken within a ski area context. Capital budgeting considerations and decision-making processes are also a focus, being an important part of ski area management. The final part of this course is concerned with the different forms of ski area investment that can be found around the world. This includes community non-profit financing, government financing, the role of private investors and investor groups, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and publicly-traded corporations.

NRRT 525 – Ski Area Planning and Development

This course examines the various planning, design, and real estate considerations required for successful ski area development and expansion. While the development of new resorts is occurring in emerging ski regions around the world, such as West Asia, China, and Eastern Europe, the trend within the more mature skiing markets of North America and Europe, among others, is towards resort expansion and improvement. Thus, both base area and mountain design decisions for either new development or expansion are discussed in-depth. Project management principles and techniques are also examined within this course, as relevant to the ski resort industry. Additionally, as ski resorts exist on public, private, and even tribal lands around the world, attention is given to the importance of relationships with local, state, and federal land agencies, government bodies, and local mountain communities. These relationships are fundamental to the successful development and management of ski resorts.

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