On the heels of one of the most challenging ski seasons in recent memory due to economic conditions, marketing travel professionals from around the U.S. and Canada will meet for the 34th annual Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) Week in Keystone, Colo., March 29-April 4, 2009.

MTS is generally regarded as the single most productive business venue for mountain travel suppliers and buyers in North America. Anyone involved in the resort industry will attend this super-sized trade show for resorts, lodging properties, tour operators, and ski clubs. There also will be an educational forum that includes keynote speakers and 14 small group workshops. MTS Week is one of the largest gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America, with an estimated attendance of 1,100 annually.

Despite projections for a below-average season at most mountain destinations, attendance at MTS is expected to be close to last year's figures because Symposium is the only venue for mountain travel specialists to discuss, negotiate, and write business contracts for lift tickets, lodging, airline seats, rental cars, and ski rental equipment for next year.

Participants meet in pre-scheduled appointments to discuss mutual business opportunities during three days of Trade and Group Exchanges. The Trade Exchange is specifically for tour operators and the Group Exchange is designed for ski clubs and councils to determine pricing and activities for large group excursions. An estimated 30 percent of contracts for the following season are initiated at this event.

"Perhaps more than ever, Mountain Travel Symposium Week is a ‘must attend' event this year," claims Michael Pierson, Symposium partner. "Literally millions of dollars in business is initiated or completed during this week and participants want to start locking down business for the 2009-10 season," he adds.

This year's Forum includes speakers and workshops to help participants anticipate and react to changing economic circumstances. Two days of professional development sessions will focus on key forces that impact the mountain travel industry. Keynote speakers will address timely topics and issues in three general sessions with follow up workshops for each session.

Scheduled for April 1-2, the theme for this year's Forum is Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones. Keynote speakers, Dr. Lalia Rach and Dr. Oren Harari, will focus on identifying the barriers to success and how to overcome them. Dr. Rach will describe how participants can shift their perspective from viewing the current business climate as problematic and instead identify the potential and possibilities. Dr. Harari, named as one of the "Top 40 Business and Management Minds in the World" by the Financial Times, will discuss maintaining profits, growth, and developing a competitive edge when vacation budgets are shrinking or limited.

"We know this is an unusually tough season for our participants," says Pierson. "In a year when maximizing efficiency is a requirement for every company, MTS provides business development, networking, and education at a single event, which saves participants time and money, " concludes Pierson. Register or get more information online.