Steamboat Springs Ron Schlotthauer will watch with great anticipation in late March when Lufthansa begins direct airline service between Denver International Airport and Munich, Germany. But all the while, he'll be envisioning nonstop service to Tokyo.
Either flight may someday deliver international skiers to resort towns like Steamboat.
Schlotthauer, director of air service development at DIA, will speak in Steamboat on Wednesday during the Eighth annual Airline Partners' Summit hosted by Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
Also on the program is Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. He shares Schlotthauer's interest in the Munich flight.
"I came back on the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt on Saturday, and that plane was chock-full of people coming to ski," he said.
Winter vacations, the airline industry and Steamboat's dependence on both will dominate Wednesday's program. The event is not open to the public. However, participants in the Fly Steamboat program are invited to the 8 a.m. event at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.
Janet Fischer, airline program director for Ski Corp., said more than 90 members of Wednesday's audience will be executives from a half dozen airlines, including American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, SkyWest and United.
"They are all people who have worked directly on the Steamboat program," Fischer said. "We have vice presidents, analysts and operations managers. They are people who work in marketing, yield management, sales and facilities. We want them to know how important they are to us and how important our airline program is to us as a world-class resort."
Schlotthauer said that if the Munich flight proves as successful as the Frankfurt flight, it would provide strong encouragement for DIA to pursue a flight from another major European capital, perhaps Paris or Amsterdam. He's also interested in the Pacific Rim.
"For the next year or two, Asia is a top priority for the airport," Schlotthauer said. "Tokyo is one of the strongest opportunities. United's feed would be extremely important to that flight."
Seoul, South Korea, also ranks among the top five international destinations in terms of demand from Denver, he said.
Berry said the U.S. ski resort market has enjoyed its five best seasons ever in the past six years.
During his talk here, he'll discuss the trends driving that success. They include season pass sales at non-destination resorts, the successful targeting of the youth market and the trend toward baby boomers staying in the sport longer than earlier generations. Berry also intends to devote considerable attention to the trend toward winter vacations in the mountains serving as multi-generational reunions.
Schlotthauer promised he also would talk about DIA's plans to be better prepared for blizzards like the one that shut down the airport last month.
Also on the roster of speakers Wednesday are veteran Dale Carnegie and instructor Ed Eppley of London, Ohio. He'll devote his talk to "Relationships in Business."