This past week marked the 4th annual Tahoe Snowcial Social Media Conference. Put on by Vail Resorts, it’s fast becoming one of the most popular social media conferences I know of. This year I had to jet down to Santa Cruz to film a bunch of surfers doing what they do, but I sent longtime friend Lars Ames in my place. What he didn’t know, was that he was slated to speak! Here’s a write-up of his experience at the show. I’ll be seeing everyone next year! -JP
2012 Tahoe Snowcial, 4 days of education, riding and of course the parties. Snowcial by now is becoming widely known as the nerd alternative to SIA. Not saying that any of the attendees are guys who stay in dark rooms 24/7. but I would imagine that if you saw most of them outside this event you would never imagine they would be wandering around a casino dressed in PBR pajamas. Snowcial doubled its efforts to educate for 2012 and I think all the other attendees would agree that it made for an even better conference.
Side note: I was lucky to attend Snowcial this year. I was recently working a job that was very non Snowcial related and I feared that I would not be able to attend. Fortunately JP helped me out with an invite but it came with strings. If I wanted to attend I would have to give an Ignite speech and since attending Snowcial was far more important than my fear of public speaking I decided that with Heckler in mind I would attend.
Snowcial started out in its usual fashion of a meet and greet. A time to rekindle the friendships that have mainly taken place in the online social spaces than the live and in person manner. So add in some adult beverages, amazing Mac & Cheese and fun free gambling and quickly the years past come screaming back. The first night social is a place to also meet some of the new blood and evaluate if they are going to be able to go the distance or as Russ Pecoraro put it, “this is a marathon, not a sprint” . With the awkward introductions out of the way it was on to the VIP Poker Tournament. Every year I am on a mission to win the sucker and this year I came ready to play. Only, when you play against people who rarely play you would be amazed at how loose everyone plays. So by the time the final table came I was the short stack on the table. But for some reason I bluffed and used some creative play to go head to head with IMG’s own Mark Ervin. Mark was the strong chip leader and when I took all his booty on an all in I was finally crowned the 2012 Snwocial Poker Champ!
David LaPlante giving yours truly the winners reward.
Day 1 always begins with a quick tour of Heavenly. This year with some of the driest conditions on record and higher winds we were forced to bus over to the California lodge to make our turns. One might think that with no snow and high winds that Heavenly would have been a wind effected experience. Put all the doubts to rest, with one of the best snowmaking systems in the West coast followed by an amazing grooming department the day was spent full throttle down some great runs. With a quick morning on the slopes it was finally off to the conference, the real reason we all attend.
The list of day 1 speakers included Joe Fenandez Co-Founder of Klout, Hope Frank and Justin Kistner of Webtrends, Porter Gale CMO of Virgin Atlantic, Rob Katz CEO Vail and Johnathan Crowley Director of Business Development at Foursqaure. If you haven’t heard of klout by now then chances are your klout score reflects your ignorance. Sure the system sounds somewhat funny, I mean who really cares what your overall social media score is but for all the haters out there there are huge companies that a good score mean millions in sales. Hope Frank and Justin Kistner were one of the speakers I was very interested in hearing from. One of the more interesting topics they touched on was web sales specifically from Facebook. Porter Gale CMO of Virgin Atlantic was the most inspirational speaker of the day. She proved that social media can be used not only for good but also to help others who may not have their own voice. Rob Katz CEO of Vail spoke again of Epic mix and added a new twist on EpicMIX 2.0 where all the Vail Mountains are now using their own photographers to shoot and after they scan your epic card the photos are automatically atached to your profile. Johnathan Crowley Director of Business Development at Foursqaure, I thought checking was also somewhat hookey. I mean I only go to a few places and becoming the mayor of the watercooler is not something I am striving for. However there is a valid point to how businesses can really gain from offering deals to customers who frequent their place of business.
Lars rubbing shoulders with High Fives Foundation founder, and overall badass Roy Tuscany
In years past after the day one keynotes were done it was off to dinner followed by our own devices however this year there was a new added twist. For some reason David LaPlate and Mike Henderson thought throwing a few attendees to the wolves and having then stand in front of a room would be a great idea. If you have never heard of the Ignite speeches here is the quick and dirty. 5 minutes, 20 slides you provide a topic of your choice and the slides change every 15 seconds and audience participation is a plus, oh and for our session there was an open bar. I was asked to give an Ignite speech and could literally sleep only a few hours a night due to nerves. Luckily I wasn’t the only one and with a few PBR’s for all of us I think everyone actually had fun. Topics included Ski Bum Dads, Mustaches, Youtube, and the difference between Tahoe and Europe. The bar stayed open and Freeskier took over with user generated movies and beats by Matt Harvey of Freeskier.
Friday was a rough day to climb out of bed. With the past nights events only a few hours behind us, it was again time for some Heavenly turns. And even though the first meaty storm of the year was only a day away with high winds we still made the best of it. Even Heavenly Foundation Executive Director Aimi X showed in the traveling PBR PJ’s supplied by JoeArt.com. On a side note, wearing PBR PJ’s does not make you the CMO especially when the person you claim that position to is actually the PBR CMO… CLAIM OF THE EVENT. Another quick morning of riding and it was off to day 2 of Snowcial, thats right we got 2 days of amazing presenters.
Day 2 was a bit of a different format than day one, more of a round table discussion group format. Panel 1 was Mobile Apps, commerce and web, Panel 2 Creating A Movement, Panel 3 Enterprise Apps and Ecosystems, Panel 4 Social Sciences and Panel 5 Advocacy, Activation and Athletes… not in that order, luckily I have a cheat sheet of the presenters. The Mobile panel touched very significantly on the mobile commerce developemt area and created a very good audience debate on weather you would ever not carry a wallet and instead only use a mobile phone. Next was the Advocacy, Activation and Athletes panel. These were the ski heavies. Michelle Parker, Daron Rahlves, Roy Tuscany and Mark Ervin (who hates to loose at poker). One might think that being a pro skier is only about skiing and nothing more, all of these athletes do more for their fellow man and community on a daily basis. The Creating a movement Panel was interesting, well mainly b/c Bryan Crowley of PBR decided that everyone need some PBR before they began. Also who knew that underground videos staring Will Ferrel would have such a positive impact for a beer company. The Enterprise Apps and Ecosystems panel discussed EpicMIX and foursquare further which stirred the foursquare/EpicMIX debate a bit further asking the question would EpicMIX ever step outside Vail and compete with Foursquare. The last panel was Social Sciences and this was the most positive of all the panel in the sense that the group wanted to help everyone become successful. With the day 2 panels behind us it was off to dinner and some further South Lake Tahoe shenanigans.
Day 3 is the day everyone looks forward to, the scavenger hunt… Well after a 2 foot dump the event was called off and it was time for a free for all. I mean who wants to go hunt when there is amazing pow to go be had. The best part was having a Heavenly coach to help you jump to the front of the lines. If you are ever looking for a Heavenly coach who has is the classiest guy on the hill I might suggest Dan Rich. We had a solid group for the pow day including Christine Loredo, Christian Loredo, Eugene Lee, Rob Sandie, Matt Harvey, Aimi X and Dave (From Slope Source) . If I had to say there was a winner, if there was one for the EpicMIX contest it would have to have been our crew. We found some of the best snow on the mountain and in the spirit of Gnar we called everyone out where ever we could.
Thats a wrap for snowcial 2012, unfortunately I had to leave early and missed the final evening debauchery but as I heard it lived up the what went down in years past. An extra day of snowcial was just what the doctor ordered and filled my need for more knowledge. Huge thanks of course go out to David LaPlante, Mike Henderson, Russ Pecoraro, Heavenly Mountain, my employer Snowbomb / LiftTickets.com for letting me go and to everyone who made this year absolutely amazing I look forward to seeing you next year!
Lastly I need to mention all the awesome kooks who I always look forward to seeing year after year. The Loredos (party on guys), Eugene Lee (Keep up the hunt), Rob Sandie (figure out a coast and lets make turns), Greg Wright(always starting shit), Matt Harvery (funnest guy in the house), SUNNY, Russ (who owes me a poker rematch), Aimi and Dan (South Lake power couple) David LaPlante (lets hang now that Alpine is part of Squaw) Mike Henderson (bike rides soon?) FourSquare Crew (you guys can hold it down any day) Aspen Crew (I like you guys even though Digi works with you… “exprience!”), TahoeJenn (grumpy can be funny), Ski_Tahoe_Whit (don’t forget your props next time), Mr and Mrs Laura Neumann (you guys are cool even though you live in Jersey).