Montana's Big Sky Resort Introduces Hybrid Mountain Meetings for Winter Season
With ski season fast approaching, Big Sky Resort in Montana is thinking outside the — ahem, gondola — to reimagine how guests will be able to attend meetings and conferences at ski resorts. Thanks to a new program called Hybrid Mountain Meetings, conference organizers will be able to plan virtual events, presentations and speakers broadcasted from within the resort at Yellowstone Conference Center, while attendees remain socially distanced and comfortable inside their resort accommodations.
At 55,000 square feet, the resort’s Yellowstone Conference Center is one of the largest conference centers in Montana. Currently, group gatherings in the state are restricted to 50 people or less. This poses a challenge to relationship with both new meeting planners and planners they’ve been working with for years, says Katie Grice, director of sales at Big Sky Resort. And not only that: The team at Big Sky was hearing feedback from groups that they were bummed to be missing out on the ski component of their conferences at Big Sky — so it was time to get creative with a solution.
“We live in a world right now that requires constant adaptation to our changing environment, and Hybrid Mountain Meetings allow us to adapt on behalf of our existing business, open a new market space and ideally create new demand in the future,” Grice says.
While hybrid meetings are not new to the industry, the value proposition here is that no third party is required to execute the technology for virtual events. Big Sky Resort offers the option as part of its existing packaging — both at the conference center and in a meeting room at Summit hotel (undergoing a renovation this season) — to create a convenient booking experience for meeting planners.
So how, exactly, does this work? Imagine an attendee from Florida unable to travel to Montana for a meeting. Not only is this individual able to experience the meeting’s content through quality video and audio in this package, but they would also be served with images and interactive video of Big Sky Resort in between sessions.
Some meeting planners may choose to engage their audiences further by inviting them to virtual happy hours, small breakout sessions or sending a package in advance that includes a winter hat or imitation snow. In addition to live streamed social hours, Big Sky can also arrange for top-of-the-chairlift meetings and apres-ski in-person events (for less than 50 people), which provide an open forum (albeit, perhaps also eliciting a little jealousy) for both on-site and virtual attendees to network.
“The goal is for all attendees to feel as welcomed, engaged and inclusive as if they were on-site,” says Grice, who notes they’ve seen expressed interest from the resort’s current book of business for the winter season.
Read more about meetings at Big Sky Resort here.