Let’s Do Some Scenario Planning.

We all realize that the snow season we are about to enter—or which has already started in some places—is going to be the most remarkable in our entire lives.  We’ve asked what you were going to do about heading or not heading to resorts, and it’s clear everyone has a plan or at least an opinion.

But, here’s a different slant. Let’s take a situation that you can bet is gonna be happening out there. Based on the situation, you game out the best moves.  Yes, it’s scenario planning and the stuff of off-site meetings and consulting gigs. But, we can do it in our online community.  All you have to do is think of the optimal response, optimal meaning the best that can be done, given the situation. Optimal doesn’t mean ideal, it’s the best possible in a particular situation.

So here you go. The season has been progressing nicely at a moderately-sized mountain resort. Skiers are cooperating with the various restrictions, and the snow has been fab for great skiing.  Mid-week crowds are up, everyone is having a manageable time, getting good runs in and coping in general with the changes. Then, ka-boom. We learn that 20 of the core staff—instructors, lifties, food service people, maintenance—have been infected by the virus.

Credit: David Zalubowski

What should happen now? What should management do? What are the options? What is the most likely, optimal outcome?

Write your thoughts in Leave A Reply below.

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  1. It can happen. It has happened to me exhibiting at art/craft festivals. Show cancelled. No booth fee refund.
    I decided to do 4 or 5 three day ski trips. Travel expenses will be way up but other expenses will be way down. I wont be stuck in a non refundable hotel for a week or loose 5 days on a one week pass. Sticking to Tuesday, Wednesday, And Thursday at some place like Keystone will also be better.

  2. Cansnowplow says:

    The best move, I think, is to have management take an hour and decorate their personal ski boot or snowboard boot, perhaps with outriggers to prevent the boot from tipping over in the wind and station themselves at the entrance. When a car is turning around because the area/resort is closed, this would be the time to approach the vehicle and hold their boot up to the window and look perky and ask for a donation, in order to pay the bills that will be pouring in. What is a fair donation you ask? moola-bucks, of course. Our McVail group would ask if you would double that.

  3. I retired 1/1/20, Yeah? I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist, I worked in a acute care hospital. The COVID hit right after I made a bucket list ski trip to Lake Placid, (it was fantastic). I came back to being asked by my financial people if my wife could possibly take less from our account, and OH I was not planning on taking anything out, right? On 3/24/20, I went back to work in the hospital. Most people ask me if I am crazy. I only work two to three days per week. I have not gotten sick, knock on wood! It is possible. Most people are still not taking this seriously. I hope to ski this winter. I am thinking more like the first gentleman, short driving trips. But, here is the big question. With cases spiking to new record highs, hospitals filling up again, will we even be allowed to cross the boarders into neighboring states where the skiing is MUCH better? Please wear a mask, social distance, choose living over a social life for now.

  4. Temporary shut down. Let the public know what’s going on. Sanitize. Use replacement workers to fill in the gaps as best possible. If there are enough healthy staff to operate, open back up.

  5. Mary-Jane Sackett says:

    I would hope that the resort had been having every employee tested on a regular basis. Employees who have had sustained contact (exposed) to those who tested positive would have to quarantine, I think. Of course, the infected employees would have to follow their local or state guidelines for quarantining and when it is safe to return to work. Since in this scenario, various departments are represented, the ski area should inform their customers that there has been an outbreak so people can make an informed decision about getting tested and skiing there.

  6. In your story of a group of core employees getting sick, I would be going to a different local area for a couple of weeks (14 day quarantine). Would keep an ear out for the status of the home hill and go back when the cases are down again. It is good to live somewhere that you have choices.

    The plan is if the season gets closed by the Government 4 of us have an easy access 1,200′ hill staked out for our own private ski area. 1 driver 3 skiers and rotate. A back-up for the back-up plan.

  7. Notify the customer base of the development. Attempt to do contact tracing, if feasible. Order the infected staff to quarantine themselves at home with full pay and benefits for 14 days. Use other staff to replace them or reduce the number of lifts/services to accommodate the reduced staffing. Continue operating in the limited capacity until the infected staff can return.

  8. First time Cannon pass purchase this year for those and financial reasons. There should be some redundant staff at all resorts and daily or twice week testing. Shouldn’t shut while resort and good testing will keep from having 20 critical staff at once getting it. But redundancy bus only answer. Get thru this season and we are golden.

  9. With that many people being infected, they may have come in contact with many others. The resort should notify the public of the situation and shut down for at least 2 weeks. Many people may have been infected and could pass it on.

  10. Stewart Kriss says:

    Here’s an ethics quandary. Vermont states if they have assigned your county as red/yellow you need to quarantine and have a negative Covid test prior to coming into Vermont. For day trippers that needs to be done each time. Will skiers assume that cannot be enforceable and head into Vermont?

    • Laurie Vogl says:

      Wondering the same thing myself. We are passholders, ski midweek and stay a few days at a time with friends, but we live out of state in a yellow county. Don’t know how to proceed.

  11. Howard Trachtenberg says:

    If an outbreak includes so many different departments, something is seriously wrong with the resorts Covid plan. No choice but to close down operations, do contact tracing to figure out where the plan broke down and take all remedial steps. State and local health departments probably need to be involved.

    It would be a long time before I went back.

  12. Notify the public of the outbreak, just for their information, but keep the ski area open, if possible, perhaps by hiring a few more people, just to keep the lifts running. Ask the infected staff to quarantine at home for at least two weeks.

    If skiers are careful to observe distancing, wearing face masks, avoiding touching things that others have touched, and washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, skiing by itself should be relatively safe.

    By the way, people, don’t pet other people’s dogs! It seems strange that during this pandemic, even people who observe distancing from humans seem to be eager to pet other people’s animals. In this way, our pets could become spreaders of the virus. I pet my dog every day. If you are staying away from me for safety reasons, then you should also stay away from my dog, because my germs are all over the dog.

  13. The ski area should: a) notify guests of the infection incident, b) close for one day to deep clean and test remaining staff, c) re-open.
    We can’t control a virus, only adapt to it. While the countermeasures may help, they are far from fully effective. Life should go on while protecting the highly vulnerable.

  14. Below is a copy of the report of Mark Gerardy on the Epic Pass holder group on FB. If you want to copy it for other sites he says OK.

    If other mountains act like Wolf Creek it is the FIRST TIME this winter I feel positive about skiing this winter.

    At Wolf Creek today, and yes, I realize that this is not an Epic ski area: but sharing with you their response to Covid nonethless.

    This is the first time in the past 232 days that I have ever seen vigilant-compliance and mask enforcement.

    Maybe some, many or all Epic resorts will be lax. But in some counties which receive ominous warnings, like Summit County Colorado – this might be what is in-store for you the skiing customer:

    Today at Wolf Creek to get my day pass, ski resort employees were looking for people not wearing masks and quickly calling them out – giving people a chance to mask-up, or even suggesting that the ski area might provide a mask for them – but cross then and be ejected. I hear the employees say, “If you don’t like it, the highway is right there”.

    They do not care or want to hear excuses, politics, statistics and appeared to be in no mood to grant accommodations or exceptions. They clearly did not see concerned about losing customers and appeared locked-and-loaded to quickly deal with anyone who protested the rules. They aren’t f*cking around.

    I personally thanked that gentlemen, the enforcer, both verbally and through my own actions of being in-compliance from the moment I left my truck. I got to enjoy my ski day.

    When dealing with guest services, I implore people to mask up or be prepared to face immediate consequences. In the lift line I worked under the assumption that the lifties were enforcing. While on the lift, I briefly took off my mask, took a drink of water but masked up once in view of the liftie at the terminus exit.

    While actually skiing, on several occasions, especially while skiing in the trees. So no, you can take short maskless breaks when off by yourself or with your immediate group.

    Wanted to share this so folks might learn what to expect.

    • WOW! That is GREAT! As a health care worker and hopeful to ski this season. That is the stance EVERY store, restaurant, etc should be taking. If you do not wear a mask GO Home! I applaud Wolf Creek! Thank You Lee for being so diligent! Hope you have a great healthy season!

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