Q&A with Mike Solimano

Editor’s note: The Mountain Times receives many questions from readers every week about Killington Resort and Pico Mountain operations. In order to best answer some of the most common questions we will pose them directly to Mike Solimano, president and general manager for Killington Resort and Pico Mountain, who has agreed to respond in an honest and timely fashion. Here are a few concerns many residents have raised recently:

1.) The Vermont Ski Area Association recently reported that the state is on schedule to match last year’s skier visits at 4.5 million — the third best in recent history. How is Killington doing? Is it also matching last year’s trend or are there factors that have made Killington and Pico ahead or behind in visitation numbers to date?

We have been outpacing the other resorts in the state so far, and I attribute the success to our focus on guest service and investment in snowmaking this season. We started very strong in early November and we’ve had consistent snow and cold, which helped expansion move quickly and has kept the trails in great shape.

We did take a slight downturn during the recent frigid weather that kept a lot of folks indoors over Presidents Week, but we are currently pacing close to where we were last year at this time. We usually like when the snow falls down in the cities – it gets people from Boston and New York thinking about skiing. But with this harsh winter for them, we hope they don’t give up on winter and forget about the fun side of snow, especially spring skiing.

I think the Nor’Beaster Spring Pass and our events line-up will bring more visitors through the end of the season so I’m not concerned. Have you seen the mound on top of Superstar? It’s going to be a very long spring, especially if it keeps snowing like it has been.

 2.) With the cold temperatures of late it is difficult to think about spring and summer, but many folks are looking forward to skiing in the sun and relative warmth that will (eventually) come. What spring events is Killington planning this year? What is a not-to-be-missed event/activity that you’d recommend to someone who has not experienced spring skiing at Killington?

Spring is a special time at Killington – as the days get longer and the sun gets higher in the sky the experience really changes from skiing in mid-winter. We kick off the seven-week Nor’Beaster spring season on Saturday, March 14, with the second annual Slash and Berm banked slalom snowboard race in The Stash, plus a meet-and-ride event with pro rider Scotty Lago and a Ski Vermont Specialty Food Day at Bear Mountain Lodge.

I’m looking forward to the Easter Sunrise Service, breakfast and egg hunts on April 5; and the May Day Slalom and Killington Triathlon round out our events schedule in May. The base on Superstar is about as deep as I’ve ever seen it so I’m predicting a long spring of soft bumps and goggle tans.

 3.) Killington Resort just put out a survey to its customers seeking feedback about their experiences at the resort and advice for improvements. Is this connected to the Net Promoter Score effort? How are Killington and Pico NPS scores this year? Some folks have commented about the scores not being publicly broadcast on the Pico sign and on the Wobbly Barn, has the effort been de-emphasized?

Great question – we have actually been more focused than ever on our customer service initiative and have actually implemented a new survey system where we can track all feedback along with our management’s responses to our guests. We survey every day at the resort, and also send a more comprehensive survey to our passholders to get their feedback to try to understand how we can improve the resort. We decided this year that we would not post the results on the Wobbly Barn or Pico Mountain signs since many customers did not understand what these numbers were (Net Promotor Score) or why they were being posted. Maybe that was a mistake if it has given the community the impression that we are not focused on our guest service initiative since we continue to look for ways to improve our guest service ratings.

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