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Another Round! A Tourism Conference Review

Darren Dunn
Mar 31, 2021 11:03:24 AM

From Mayhem to Intelligence at the Mountain Travel Symposium

I’ve never had a mountain come to me so I’ve always made a point to go see them. Over the past 21 years of exploring the world attending tourism conferences there’s always been a special place in my heart for Mountain Travel Symposium. MTS is the premier event for the worldwide mountain travel industry where destination and  resort representatives meet with a wide range of suppliers, buyers and vendors from around the world. When you have this many mountain-loving people in one place it’s not just a good time, it’s mayhem. 

What Makes MTS Special to me:

I believe mountains are the last place where people can truly be wild, and my fellow MTS attendees always live up to that belief. In my 16 years of attending the event I’ve made lifelong friends out of kindred spirits. (you know who you are) I have learned from so many through bar conversations, coffee breaks and the always epic MTS Forum. (But mostly bar conversations. #Truth) Mountain communities are different from other places, their stakeholders don’t need research to tell you what’s going wrong or right, they just know. They make it easy to learn from and they help one another instantaneously. MTS is a club, it's special, and I'm a card carrying member. 

The Journey

My 16th MTS is going to be different. It's time for another round, and my fellow Zartican’s and I are on a quest to find how the spirit of the mountain traveler has changed this year. For two weeks we will be in an RV traveling through Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado talking to the visitors, residents and destinations.  We will report how mountain travel has changed this year and we’re bringing those learnings straight to MTS from the road. It will be raw, candid, direct, fun and powerful. The journey is taking all that mayhem of 2020 and turning it into intelligence in 2021.

The Event

I will be kicking off MTS on April 14th in Vail with a video of our journey and some inspirational words to the industry I love.  Mountains never fail to humble any human being, and depending on how you look at them, they are either an obstacle or an opportunity.  MTS has continually been the conference that sees the opportunity and challenges us to protect and respect the obstacle.  The 20/21 seasons have been the Everest of obstacles but this resilient industry has managed to navigate them with limited gear with hope on the horizon.  These are my written words, but let's face it, two years without the MTS costume party is killing me. 

What I’m Excited About:

If the winter is too cold and the summer is too hot, you’re not a mountain person. Raised in Montana, ironically I've spent the last 20 years living in every metropolis in America.  Covid-19 was the catalyst I needed to finally move me from  San Francisco to the Salt Lake City area. The Zartico home office is here and I’m back breathing fresh, thin air and doing turns multiple days a week. 2020 was insane and to say I’m excited to be amongst my peers talking mountain life is an understatement. The best views always come after the hardest climbs. 

Conference Quote from MTS Past:

“Always buy the first couple  of rounds. They won’t remember the last rounds at this party.” - Advice given to me at my first MTS.

I’ll leave  you with one of my favorite mountain quotes/toasts: “Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads” 

See you soon,


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