After 37 Bob Wheaton is retiring from Deer Valley. The new President and COO has been on the job for two months and he spoke with KPCW just before the resort opened for the season.
New Deer Valley President and COO Todd Shallan says he wanted the job because he believes Deer Valley is the hospitality expert in the ski business.
“I’ve stayed here before, I’ve skied here before as a guest." Shallan explained, "That experience that I had was top notch and it’s what I’m used to experiencing in the four- and five-star hotels and resorts that I’ve worked at throughout my career. So, pretty exciting opportunity.”
Shallan has 35 years of experience in the hospitality industry, working with primarily resorts and hotels. His most previous position was as COO of iFLY Indoor Skydiving. Shallan says prior to being hired he didn’t know anything about running fly centers.
“But what I did know is a consumer business." Shallan continued, "That’s really what iFLY is, there’s a big technology part because they build and maintain and operate wind tunnels around the world. In fact, the found is a part-time resident here of Park City over at the Canyons. He came up with a concept that was making skydiving safe or at least safer. Because you’re not really jumping out of a plane now. That consumer business and trying to get guest service increased and repeat business increased and so on and so forth. That was really the connection to what I had. Plus, it was also owned by the same parent company and they had some need in executive turnover and that was why I was there.”
Shallan said that his work at Deer Valley will be similar.
“We are a consumer business." Shallan said, "We are all about guest service and we happened to be doing it on a mountain. I am not Bob Wheaton. Bob Wheaton is a legend and Bob has done amazing things at Deer Valley, but if you ask Bob, he’ll tell you that his focus has been on the mountain. He’s put together a tremendous team, I think probably best in the industry. They don’t need a lot of help, but where Bob hasn’t spent most of his time is in hospitality and in food and beverage and other areas which is where my background is. Really just a little bit of a different focus, but it’s all about the people and the team that we have and just pushing and driving to excel and continue and improve in our customer service experiences.”
Shallan says he plans to focus on improving Deer Valley’s lodges.
“We haven’t spent a lot of time and effort and money since they were built, on the lodges." Shallan explained, "I think there’s a lot of opportunity to offer additional guest services, additional retail, additional food and beverage activation in the outdoor areas. We’re going to spend this year with some designers and architects and do a bunch of planning on that. Then I think what you’ll see in 2020 is some investment in both Silver Lake and Snow Park and the lodges. Just the overall customer experience, how do we upgrade that and modernize it? The other piece is we will be going to the RFID gate system next season. That’s a big investment but that I think is going to really help the guest experience because you don’t have to go to the ticket window. There’s just so many good things that come about that.”
The radio frequency identification or RFID system will allow for quicker access to lifts. Although it’s a large capital expenditure Shallan says the upgrade will be worth it.
“We have at least 18 lifts that we need to put some type of electronic access management to." Shallan continued, "The other ones are that at the smaller lifts down at Snow Park where there’s just the ski instructors and the schools, but you can’t get anywhere. If you want to ride that all day long without a ticket, we’ll eventually figure that out but there’s no access anywhere else. You can only come back down to that.”