As Summit County businesses prepare to wind down as the end of the winter season approaches, the town of Breckenridge and Breckenridge Ski Resort are amping up.
The Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) is the largest and longest-running annual gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America. This year, Breckenridge will host the MTS from April 9 to 16 — the first time since the early ’80s — at Beaver Run Resort.
Last year, MTS had more than 1,200 attendees, the most in the organization’s nearly 40-year history. Close to 20 percent of attendees are from outside the U.S. as well, representing more than 20 countries.
Resort director of marketing Kieran Cain said businesses should be preparing for the extra influx of visitors that week.
“It’s a major event, the most preeminent mountain travel group anywhere in North America,” he said. “We want to put our best foot forward, there will be a lot of influential people around.”
There will be three public meetings this week to discuss the MTS — two Thursday afternoon and one Friday afternoon at Fatty’s Pizzeria. Danielle O’Grady, group sales manager for the ski resort, and Donna Horii, director of sales for the Breckenridge Convention and Visitors Bureau, will lead the presentations and facilitate the question-and-answer sessions.
Ken Nelson, Breckenridge Restaurant Association president and local business owner, said the event is an exciting opportunity to show off the town.
“In the beginning people were worried, it being as late as it was in the season, that we might be letting off the gas at that point,” he said. “So while people might be looking ahead, we have to stay focused on this one big week, keep on the ball.”
Nelson said he is focused on keeping his crews fresh, healthy and not overworked, though every shift is already very busy. He is looking forward to serving and interacting with travel industry professionals who are focused on the mountains.
“It’s business as usual, with special customers,” he said
Kristen Petitt Stewart, Breckenridge Ski Resort spokeswoman, said the MTS is an investment in future tourism, since so many industry professionals will be attending. “They will be soaking in information about Breckenridge from sunup to sundown,” she said. “They will be in town and at the resort, burning the candle at both ends, so how do we accomplish this, make it great?”
Cain said while traditionally near the end of ski season, businesses in town might scale back their workforce, this is not the week to start cutting back on staff. Historically, he said, the beginning of April is still a great time for the resort, and he expects to still hopefully be 100 percent open during the conference.
One of the topics that will be discussed at the public meetings will be large groups — Cain said restaurants, for example, could see tables of 20 to 30 people or more frequently.
“After a scheduled day, people want to get together socially,” he said. “People will be selling this for years to come. It’s all about going the extra mile.”
The theme of this year’s MTS is, “It’s About the People,” which Petitt Stewart said not only reflects the opportunity of some of the world’s top mountain destination travel professionals to interact with each other, but also to experience the legendary spirit and character of the local residents of Breckenridge.
“We need them to try our whiskey, eat and shop on Main Street,” she said. “It’s imperative for the experience.”
For more information about this year’s Mountain Travel Symposium, visit www.mtntrvl.com.