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Q&A WITH BRYAN DUNN, CEO OF SNOWSEARCH

The snow sports aficionado on creating a new way to plan ski trips

While prepping for a ski vacation starts in the gym, there is still a lot of planning involved when it comes to lift tickets, gear, lodging, and more. “I would sit at my desk in New York City during the winter months and all I could think about was how can I go snowboarding as much as possible,” says Park City, Utah-based entrepreneur Bryan Dunn. “I would stare at the weather forecast and track storms even when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to go.” This passion for winter sports led Dunn to co-found SnowSearch, a new website that aggregates weather forecasts, hyper-local ski guides (with tips such as how to find the best glades or backcountry runs), and allows users to learn about and book all pieces of their trip in one place.

Here, Dunn chats about the changes in the industry and the future of SnowSearch.

Who is the average SnowSearch user?

“I was incredibly fascinated when I dug into the data and learned that about 70 percent of skiers and snowboarders in the U.S. are under the age of 34. While we’re aimed at the millennial, we hope that athletes of all ages will find our site helpful and encourage more trips to new spots.

The same goes for ability level. On the beginner side, we have a partnership with Burton to help them grow their Learn to Ride program, which is known to be a sophisticated way to learn to snowboard. People can explore our site and book a trip based on the presence of this program at certain resorts.

On the competitive side, we’ve partnered with a group called USASA, United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association, that has 550 events per year across 32 regions. We built features within SnowSearch to allow users to search those events based on type and region and find everything else they need to go to a rail jam out in Vermont or a halfpipe competition in Colorado.”

How will your site help shape the travel industry?

“We’re focused on athletes who want to experience different activities. On a five-day trip, you might ski three days, but also want to do a yoga class or rent a fat bike. You might snowshoe or even cat- or heli-ski in the backcountry. These activities can be hard to find because it’s not typically the resort that operates them. The best ones are smaller operations, so we’re looking to loop in all those types of offerings in a very curated manner. I think ski and snowboard travel will only continue to grow, especially with the shift towards multi-mountain seasonal passes, and our site will help make that easier.” 

What’s next for SnowSearch?

“Right now we’re working with USSA (United States Ski and Snowboard Association), finalizing a pilot program to have elite athletes use our site as a platform to engage with fans. And global expansion is definitely next. We’re currently in the US, Canada, and Japan, but Europe is still the biggest ski market in the world and China is hoping to put 300 million non-skiers on the slopes by the Beijing Olympics in 2022. We’ll see what happens but I think the SnowSearch model could definitely translate to other outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking, and fishing.”