At its annual end-of-season Town Hall meeting, Solitude Mountain, UT, presented a PowerPoint presentation that labeled locals as a threat to its business.
The presentation was a five-year plan with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis.
Under “Threats: What could prevent us?”, it simply listed “Locals.”
The backlash was immediate on social media. As many know, locals are the lifeblood of ski areas. Many of them have supported the operations for decades, so to call them a threat seemed beyond insulting. If you lose your grasp on the local’s satisfaction, you risk the future and culture of the ski area.
Later, Solitude explained what they really meant in a series of tweets. Ultimately, they clarified that if locals are not satisfied with their experience at the mountain, therein lies the threat. Their goal was actually to listen to the local’s needs and concerns. This is what they had to say:
“From our Town Hall last night, many are questioning the SWOT analysis we shared that included locals as a threat. In a SWOT, we define a threat as something that is an external factor that has the potential to cause harm to the business if not addressed. We are fully aware and appreciative of how important the local community is to Solitude. And from the feedback that we collect each season, we are also aware that much of the local community is not satisfied with some aspects of a visit to Solitude. Not addressing local’s concerns will harm the business and that’s the threat. We discussed our efforts to address parking, canyon congestion, upgrade lifts, expand facilities, offer affordable food options, open terrain sooner, and improve snowmaking to ensure longer seasons. These are all concerns frequently raised by locals. We also continue to find ways to give back to the community, as we have done with our expanded and free uphill routes, our work w/Share Winter and Discover Winter, our Intro to Skiing offer, and our offer to staff to pay them for doing volunteer work throughout the valley. It’s important to us to remain transparent in our goals and efforts and we encourage those who would like to be part of the conversation to attend our Town Hall at the end of each season, which you can do in person or virtually.”
Thank you for the clarification, Solitude. Perhaps next time, rather than just saying “locals,” it would be prudent to be more specific by saying “locals’ dissatisfaction” or “locals’ concerns.” Just something more defining would have gone a long way to show that they were focused on listening to the locals and their needs. Just this small misunderstanding was blown way out of proportion.
Furthermore, not only was the wording lacking, but many commenters noted the poor formatting of the slide. Additionally, it is unusual for a SWOT analysis to be shared in public as it is typically an internal document to help the organization gain a competitive advantage. This is especially true when you list one of your strengths as “High ‘Get Shit Done’ Factor.”
I’m sure Solitude has learned a lesson to review its documents before public distribution. After clarification, it appears they are on the right track to continue offering their guests a great experience, both tourists and locals.