Each November, Boston hosts one of the premier snow sports shows in the country. This year I’m not sure I’m going.
Like everything in this post-pandemic world things have changed. The event is now called the Snowbound Expo and is owned by Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) and produced by Racoon Productions. In the past the show was the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo hosted by Bernie Weichsel’s production company.
Bernie is a legend in the industry and deservedly so. The highlight of the show occurred behind the scenes at Bernie’s, by invitation only, awards luncheon. It was common to be seated or converse with Tommy Moe, Donna Weinbrecht, Dan Egan, Pam Fletcher and have informal access to such luminaries for several hours. That unique event within the event is no more.
As a member of the media my primary reason to attend was access to resort and industry personalities. In past years my day was so busy I stayed near the show in Boston’s Seaport District for convenience. Over the course of a couple of days I would attend media events hosted by Ski Vermont, Ski New Hampshire, Ski Utah, Colorado Ski Country, Ski Quebec, Ski Canada, and others. This year there are no ski area association events. It appears budgets for such promotions have dried up. Another consequence of the pandemic is frankly, resorts don’t need the media the way they once did. Traffic at resort websites doubled over the last two years due to the pandemic. The need for real-time info made the resort site the only place to find specific info at any given time.
In the past one of the biggest consumer draws of the show was a massive selection of discounted apparel and gear. It was common to see happy attendees exiting the show doors with gear packages in tow. No more. There will be gear to buy but the early word is that discounts will not be nearly as deep.
The primary focus of this year’s show appears to be speakers. The line-up is impressive with spots featuring Bode Miller, Chris Davenport, Doug Lewis, Dan Egan, Conrad Anker, and many others but I question just how long and how often consumers who have been conditioned to hunt for cheap tickets/passes and other deals will just sit and listen.
As an active member of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association I made a habit of attending our meeting at the show. It was an opportunity to discuss what other snow sports journalists were excited about and to discuss collaborative possibilities. It appears even that will not work out for me this time around. The meeting is scheduled during Boston’s morning commute several hours before the show opens.
As I weight the cumulative effect of all these changes it’s clear that much of what made the Boston show a must attend event is no longer a draw for me. It’s a case of too much change too fast. It will certainly work for most early-season enthusiasts but long-time show attendees will notice the difference too.