AN OPINION ON THE 23rd Moscow Ski&Board Salon / Ski Build Expo - shared by the representatives of METELITSA POLAR CENTER.
October 14-16, 2016, Moscow's Gostiny Dvor yet again played host to Moscow Ski&Board Salon / Ski Build Expo, one of the main events of the year dedicated to the mountain resort industry. Effectively, Moscow Ski&Board Salon is an informal platform that brings together industry leaders, government officials, travel companies, investors, and those for whom this show was originally organized - people that are simply looking for the best deal on a family skiing vacation. It is worth one's while stopping for a second and giving a thought to the lineup of the exhibitors, and the current situation in the industry.
After each Salon, one can see that the audience of the people that were there basically splits in two major camps: positive and negative, the latter claiming for years now that "Salon is dead". One thing can be said for sure, though - this Moscow Ski&Board Salon left nobody indifferent. Now, let's try and single out facts from this emotional flow, and try and evaluate the multifaceted positive difference that this event makes for its stakeholders.
The very upbeat mountain resort "Manzherok" and its partner "Construction Department of Sberbank of Russia" not only shared about their resort but also showcased before the Salon's audience the prospects of the resort's development. Also, at the conference "New Development Stage of the Domestic Mountain Tourism", Manzherok was showcased as an all-season resort and as a place that might very well become the symbol of the Altai Mountains. And, of course, the gem of the show was the idea of a mobile app with a virtual trip into the resort's future.
On the photo: Ivan Morozov, business partner of Manzherok all-season mountain resort, project manager of Construction Department of Sberbank of Russia.
Besides Manzherok, the show featured, of course, Rosa Khutor, Big Wood, Leonid Tyagachev Ski Club, the Ministry for development of industry and entrepreneurship of the Murmansk region, and Adjigardak mountain resort. Incidentally, during the conference program of Moscow Ski&Board Salon, the project manager of Adjigardak, Eugene Gurevich, shared in his presentation very valuable practical information on how to create a world-class all-season mountain resort with a traffic capacity of up to 5 thousand people a day during the high skiing season. Generally speaking, for the people who were not in the loop of the current state of affairs in Russia's skiing industry, Adjigardak became a revelation.
On the photo: Eugene Gurevich, project manager of Adjigardak mountain resort
It must be said that the conference program of Moscow Ski&Board Salon was diverse and full of interesting presentations. No matter how pessimistic some social media posts and articles in the press sound, people simply would not leave the conference hall, it was always full, and sometimes you could in fact see people standing outside of it with notebooks and smartphones, peeking inside, because there was not enough room for everyone.
On the photo: Umar Aidinov (Chairman of the Regional Public Organization "Center for Promoting Tourism and Sports in the Karachaevo-Cherkess Republic"), Director of the department for tourism and regional policies of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Olga Yarilova, President of Moscow Ski&Board Salon Mikhail Musinyants.
Of course, we were interested in the First Biathlon Forum, and not just because of the sheer fact that it was "first". This living and breathing venue was organized by the group of companies "Sport B2B". The speakers and guests of the forum were members of the Russian Biathlon Association, Moscow Biathlon Federation, as well as companies engaged in the construction of sport centers and hotels, and specialist visitors related to the commercial real estate. The participants actively discussed not only the issues of the biathlon development prospects for the future and promoting this spectacular kind of sport, but also commercial possibilities that it offers for winter sports venues.
It must be said at this point that Moscow Ski&Board Salon reinvented itself many times - for example, a team of snowboard cross professionals turned it into the place where they shared the best practices. They shared about the necessity of summer preparation, about the new trends in training, shared their tips for the beginners. They paid lots of attention to the specifics of snowboarding, physical preparation of snowboarders, the principles of scheduling your training sessions, and, of course they showcased their XCROSS TEAM snowboarding school. The leading consultants of "Kanayan Retail&Development Consulting", Kira and Ruben Kanayan, shared their vision of the commercial potential of amateur sports and the opportunities that it opens up for for the developers of commercial real estate, owners of shopping malls and multifunctional entertainment centers. And, by the way, their work at Moscow Ski&Board Salon yet again got me questioning the practical value of the modern coaching sessions on leader's qualities, time management, and even MBA - indeed, what's the use of all this theoretical stuff if here, at Moscow Ski&Board Salon, you can talk directly to the leaders, decision makers, and, more importantly, founders of interesting and successful business projects?
Generally speaking, it is worth special mentioning that from this standpoint, the 23rd Moscow Ski&Board Salon was particularly great in terms of living and working contacts. Possibly, this or that form of participating in the three-day conference program of Moscow Ski&Board Salon would give the start-uppers or businessmen who launch new directions more than a couple of years at МВА. There was as little theory as possible, and there were no coaches who in fact did not create anything themselves - the place was full of people who achieved practical results in one of the most challenging and underdeveloped branches of our nation's challenging economy. Why am I laying such a great stress on it? Because I am the economist with a nonprofit organization that is NOT directly related to to this industry, and this is the first time that I am trying to express my thoughts on this subject. However, at Moscow Ski&Board Salon I've been able to see lots of things that were of practical value for me as a young economist. I saw a clear division between the "dusty" university economics, and the living practical work.
Yes, these three days were full of interesting encounters, and business meetings with potential customers, colleagues, yes, competitors, friends, and simply great people! For many of our employees, this was their first Moscow Ski&Board Salon - and they got heaps of positive impressions! Followed by a detailed discussion, a most interesting lecture delivered by Gennadiy Bovsky helped our emerging specialists to see the issues of design and construction of cableways from quite a different angle. The fact that your main competitors in the field of snowmaking were mere meters from you, stimulated a quick and detailed analysis of the technology novelties, and the specifics of the exhibited equipment.
Of course, it was a must to see the stands of SKADO, ROSENGINEERING, GTCENTER, and other engineering companies. Here is the truth, dear ladies and gentlemen: nowadays so many companies whine about the shortage of engineering specialists and the decline of the mountain resort industry. However, when you start asking specific questions, you find out that the decline is not so much in the mountain resort industry as in the world's economy in general, so, what's there to whine about? Besides, the expo business is quickly adjusting to the internet realities of today, and Moscow Ski&Board Salon is not the only exhibition that faces these challenges. So, parallel to all this whining about difficulties of the mountain resort construction industry, at Moscow Ski&Board Salon you see a great powerful pool of engineering companies. This is what these bloggers should have written about, a good thing to do would have been to write about each of these companies that exhibited at Moscow Ski&Board Salon. About how these companies were able to form engineering groups, where they recruited their specialists, how much effort they put into it, and what was the economics of these brilliant business solutions. Alas, what we read on most social media sites, comes down to the profound "MOSCOW SKI&BOARD SALON IS NOT THE SAME AS IT USED TO BE ANYMORE!"
Yes, gentlemen, it is obviously not the same as it used to be!!! We do not have the standards of comparison, though, because this was the first time we ever exhibited at Moscow Ski&Board Salon, but here is the thing - today, this trade show, just like many others, is searching for new ways of developing. It is not the same as it used to be, just as the time is not the same as it used to be - nobody will go all the way from remote regions to exhibit in Moscow just for the fun of it, based solely on the prestige considerations. A cool half of the world's exhibition grounds have been "eaten away" by the online services, and, with filming drones becoming ever more accessible (now they are slowly but surely gaining the status of a household tool) showcasing your mountain resort online has never been easier. And you don't have to go to Moscow for that. But the development of Moscow Ski&Board Salon is not about renting out the expo area (although this is an important revenue source) - but about the thread of living communication and sharing the experience. The very mountain industry has a lot of development issues, and you need to realize that any new mountain resort - take that same proverbial Adjigardak for example - is about years of painstaking work, not posh presentations, but years of difficult, technology-based work with the shortage of competent specialists that we spoke about. And this job of work has been done. Yes, there is a thousand places that you can pour your effort into, and there is a deficit of domestic tourism but still, if we see the emergence of such projects as Manzherok, if the exhibition features Azerbaijan's Shakhdag, year after year the exhibition is graced by the Ministry of Tourism of Bulgaria, this means that Russia's mountain industry is developing, maybe not at a pace that everyone would want to see, but it is developing. And this means that Moscow Ski&Board Salon is here to stay. Which form it will take is really a question of time; it can even be predicted from this point in time that the 24th Moscow Ski&Board Salon will be criticized, just like the 25th, and so on, but the show is alive, and this is what matters.
Alive and kicking, one should say! The mere sight of huge extreme venues that were surrounded by crowds of interested people for three days on end, would be enough to prove that point. The spectacular riders' contest, and the three-day "Revolution" rock festival running parallel to the competition only added some spicy sauce into the already delicious dish.
All the traditional ingredients... oops - exhibitors - traditionally presented themselves, not in a boring way, just traditionally. There was Alpindustria with all the novelties of the upcoming season, and Saint-Petersburg's Top Sport, which is also an inevitable company at such a trade show. Surprisingly, even such narrow-audience and under-hyped things as Kinesiology Taping were showcased not on one but on two stands, one of these with SFM tapes and a living and breathing consultant ready to put his tape to work on our venue.
After this, rather emotional, meditation on Moscow Ski&Board Salon, I would like to cover its effectiveness indices, "effectiveness" being understood as the productiveness of using of resources for achieving a certain goal.
The effectiveness of any organizer can be evaluated by three criteria:
- financial effectiveness;
- dynamics of renting the exhibition grounds;
- conversion of the professional visitors into business contacts.
To analyze it, we will probably find the time to write a special article, requesting from the organizers detailed information and performing a comparative analysis of the economic highlights of Moscow Ski&Board Salon. Why exactly are we planning to go at such great lengths? Here is the thing: we are a public international organization "International Polar Expedition and Sports Center "Metelitsa"", and we realized that, apart from Moscow Ski&Board Salon, there is no other trade show that would fit our profile so well, none at all! We are not about medicine in its pure form, neither we are about tourism. We are not exactly about construction of sports facilities, and we are not about maintenance work thereof. We could go on for hours enumerating things that we are not. Coming to Moscow Ski&Board Salon, we understood one thing: we like it here; this trade show is close to us because of its extreme sports venues, and because of the engineering technologies showcased in its more conventional part. Suddenly we realized - we fit in here, we feel in our own element, and we hope that the organizers share our view.
For the time being, here is what conclusions we can draw "on the surface level".
The mountain skiing industry is developing in a very complex and very diverse environment, there are factors that promote this development, and there are factors that hamper it.
It is obvious that the closure of the Egypt travel destination, the unstable situation in Turkey, and sanctions imposed by the USA and EU are in fact conductive to Russia's domestic tourism, including its mountain skiing segment.
The crisis of the government institutions, the decline of the population's revenue, and the decrease in the purchasing power of the ruble are also factors that strengthen the Russian traveling packages.
The global and quite objectively determined crisis of offline platforms has a negative impact on the situation because business owners try to compensate for their losses, cutting down the number of their employees and the advertising expenses: "going online", organizing online stores, video conferences and many other things.
Summing up, I would like to specially note the perseverance of the organizers who, in spite of all the challenges, have organized, for the 23rd time in as many years, this trade show. It is necessary to find a common "pain" that asks to be healed by our common effort, for the business, for the government authorities, for the investors, travel companies, and charity organizations; to sit them down to one joint table to solve this problem, and then the economic and management effectiveness for each of the stakeholders will be sure to achieve its possible maximum.
So! As for this article of mine which was originally devised as an economic survey but ended up becoming some sort of an emotional post-release, I would like to end it with a slightly unconventional request to the organizers - could you please give us the show's figures for the last five years? Seriously, folks, we are interested to know how Moscow Ski&Board Salon faired all these years, what changed for the better, and what for the worse. Why? Because collaborating with you gave us lots of insights on how to take what we doing to a whole new level, and, in order to adequately express our thoughts and ideas to everybody, including economists, we need to be prepared and we need to know our stuff.
I would also like to specially mention the fact that Moscow Ski&Board Salon did not charge us a single ruble for exhibiting at the trade show. Do you know why I am mentioning this? Because not a single trade show - and after Moscow Ski&Board Salon we called about 40 organizers of other trade shows that more or less answered our profile - not a single one of them agreed to so much as consider proving us with exhibition grounds free of charge. Only really strong and successful people can be that kind and generous, to be the first in line to help! And this strong team of Moscow Ski&Board Salon is the foundation for its successful future.
"International Polar Expedition and Sports Center "Metelitsa"
Today's "Metelitsa" is a young team that not only carries out its work along the traditional lines but that launched new, unconventional, and at the same time quite logical projects. For example, the seemingly strange projects, such as FESTIVAL OF ADAPTIVE ROCK CLIMBING "FIRST STEP" or "THE FIRST STEP WITH A REINDEER" are in fact a continuation of Metelitsa's scientific research in the area of sports for disabled children. Our whole work today is based on the programs of psychological, physical, and medical/physiological preparation developed in the course of Metelitsa's expeditions into the high latitudes.