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Brian Stephenson is already stoked for next winter. That might sound premature, since lifts are still spinning and snow is still flying this season, but his anticipation is understandable based on the events of the past year.
Last June, when Stephenson was appointed director of the Snowbound Festival—a pair of consumer trade shows owned and operated by Snowsports Industries America (SIA)—one of his first duties was making that dreaded announcement familiar to any live event operator in 2020: The initial shows, set for the fall, were canceled due to Covid.
Fast forward nearly a year, and Stephenson has moved past that disappointment. He is now solely focused on Snowbound’s delayed debuts, happening later this year—and in person. Barring any pandemic-related setbacks, Snowbound–Rockies will take place in Denver from November 5-7, and Snowbound–New England will take place in Boston from November 19-21.
“Everything is trending in the right direction,” Stephenson told OBJ this week. “It changes daily, and we’re working with all of the venues and the local and state health departments to ensure we’re following the latest guidelines. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for people to get together again and to get in front of consumers, so now we want people to let us know they’re interested in exhibiting.”
To tap into that enthusiasm, Snowbound Festival on Tuesday officially opened exhibitor pre-registration for companies looking to learn more about booth space and sponsorship opportunities. The pre-registration process also provides SIA members with early access and discounted rates before the full exhibitor registration officially opens in April.
For booth pricing, including the cost differences between pipe-and-drape and hard-wall booths, plus details of the SIA discount, click here. And for more information about exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities, click here.
A new kind of snowsports show
With pre-registration now open, and general registration set to open in a few weeks, Stephenson said he is working to spread the word to potential exhibitors—including brands, resorts, nonprofits, and other snowsports stakeholders—that Snowbound will give them a chance to connect with consumers in a powerful new way.
“We are building a dynamic platform that engages consumers both online and in person, energizes new participants, creates community, and leaves everyone with a greater sense of connection and appreciation for the winter outdoor lifestyle,” he said.
The events are reimagined versions of the former Boston and Denver Ski and Snowboard Expos run by BEWI Productions Inc. for years before SIA acquired them in November 2019. But while Snowbound has a familiar past, its shows won’t resemble the expos of yesteryear. Instead, they will offer a reinvented floor concept during the event plus digital tools for exhibitors and attendees year-round.
“These shows are going to be unlike anything that we’ve done in the past in Boston or Denver when it was run by BEWI,” said Stephenson, whose show-management experience includes leadership positions popular consumer events like New York Comic-Con and Star Wars Celebration. “We’re going to celebrate the past and the legacy they’ve created with those shows for 20-plus years, but we’re showcasing the future of the winter lifestyle and where the snowsports industry is going. We’re going to deliver a completely reimagined experience that is authentic through and through on all levels.”
Like any live event, Snowbound has endured a bumpy year, but its Covid road was rockier than most. As a consumer show, it couldn’t pivot to a virtual format, as B2B events like Outdoor Retailer did. Snowbound also had the disadvantage of being announced right before the pandemic struck—at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in early 2020—forcing a lengthy delay between its unveiling and its in-person debut.
But 2021 has provided new hope for Snowbound, SIA, and Stephenson.
“We want to bring as many winter enthusiasts together as possible at these events,” Stephenson said. “We’re creating something that the industry is going to love, that consumers are going to love, and that will help us get more people purchasing products and getting on snow. That’s the goal.”