162: Snowbound Festival, sustainability at trade shows and welcoming newcomers to winter sports with Brian Stephenson

“We just want to build something that they’re excited about, that they’re passionate about, and that they’re willing to spend their hard-earned money on a ticket to come to. So part of that is going to be making them feel something from the second they get there. So thinking about the entire event experience…”

– Brian Stephenson

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • After in-person events were cancelled in 2020, SIA names tradeshow and event veteran, Brian Stephenson Director of Snowbound Festivals
  • What changes can consumer trade shows like Snowbound make to minimize the negative environmental impact of such large in-person events?
  • Hear how offering educational and relevant content year-round through SIA’s membership portal creates a barrier-free entry point for newcomers to the sports and bridges the gap between experts and novices

EPISODE PREVIEW:

In the summer of 2020 and in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Stephenson was named Director of the Snowbound Festival, an event that many of us have always considered the kick off for the winter season. Brian was hired by SIA and brings with him an extensive background in consumer events like Comicon, Star Wars Celebration with Disney and Lucasfilm, and many others. 

The cancellation of in-person events was our reality over the past year, and though we can’t say for certain what the next year will bring, developing a whole new ecosystem and expanding on the concept and community facet of an event like Snowbound is what Brian will bring to the table. 

A membership site is a platform we haven’t discussed here much on Channel Mastery, but our consumers are continuing to evolve and become even hungrier for our content. Similar to email lists, memberships create an audience willingly engaging in what we have to say and offer a community. SIA and Snowbound are widening the portal for the newcomer to winter sports, bridging the gap between an expert and a novice and bringing all of these components together under one portal and then the literal, roof, of the consumer shows.

Also on the minds of so many of our evolving consumers is sustainability and how their favorite brands, businesses and organizations are aligning their practices with that of the consumers. Brian shares what Snowbound Festivals of the future are doing to ensure they’re practicing what they preach and keeping the environment and sustainability at top of mind.

GUEST PROFILES:

Brian Stephenson

Brian Stephenson is the Director of Snowbound, the new consumer platform of Snowsports Industries of America (SIA). Brian started his career in the winter division of Airwalk and then became the Sports Marketing Manager for SoBe Beverages at PepsiCo and oversaw the partnership with Burton Snowboards including the US Open of Snowboarding and the winter athlete program. After leaving Pepsi, Brian helped create a new consumer pop culture event division at Reed Exhibitions called Reedpop. Reedpop runs some of the largest consumer events in the world including New York Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, ComplexCon, PAX, Emerald City Comic Con, and many more. While at Reedpop Brian built and maintained relationships with global partners including CBS, Crunchyroll, Disney, DC Entertainment, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Microsoft, Warner Bros, and many others. Brian joined the SIA team in 2020 and is bringing his multi-faceted brand and event experience together with his love of Snowsports to build the new Snowbound Festivals.

TOPICS COVERED:

consumer tradeshows, consumer events, winter tradeshow, sustainability at tradeshows, snowbound festival, sia, future of tradeshows, in-person events, virtual events, membership platform, educational content for newcomers

SELECT QUOTES:

“…and there’s still that piece, if you’re thinking about the consumer and you still have to deliver value, even if you can’t have the face-to-face live event, there’s still an opportunity to build community and to deliver value and to engage people and have them still continue to want to consume content.”

“I think what the shows were previously and what they’re going to be going forward as Snowbound and the Snowbound festivals are vastly different in a lot of ways. There’s going to be some commonalities in that they’ll still be in a traditional trade show environment, but outside of that, I think what we want to do is really surprise and engage people in new and different ways.”

“We need to deliver something that’s of value to the consumers, but also to all the exhibitors into the industry and for the consumers. It’s their party.”

“We just want to build something that they’re excited about, that they’re passionate about, and that they’re willing to spend their hard-earned money on a ticket to come to. So part of that is going to be making them feel something from the second they get there. So thinking about the entire event experience…”

“We want to give you a reason to come back and celebrate with us all weekend long. And the tagline is – winter starts here. So this is the official kickoff of winter.”

“We’re still in the very early stages of planning for the show and working with the venues and our, our general contractor to have that mindset and that review process for everything we’re doing, just to be able to see what our impact is and how we can lessen that environmental impact.”

“So understanding consumers, that’s square one for us. There’s a heavy data and research component to {understanding} our audience better than anybody else, because we have that direct face-to-face relationship with them.”

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