Last week, a new leader landed at the epicenter of the Ski Club of Great Britain. Now the CEO is starting to settle in, we get to know Darren Neylon.
Darren first went skiing in his second year of University at Mt Buller, Australia, …and it didn’t get off to a flying start. Darren recalls “I had a very old car and we squeezed seven people into it. On the way up the mountain on the second day of the holiday, I blew up the car’s engine, saw bits bouncing along the road in the rear view mirror!” Instead of skiing for the rest of his holiday, Darren spent the next two days getting the car down the mountain on the back of a tow truck. “What a start to my skiing adventure!”
However, that first trip did not tarnish Darren’s love affair with the slopes, meeting his wife, Juliette, on his first ski trip to Europe. The first thing he wanted to do when he moved to the UK was experience skiing in the Alps for the first time. According to Darren, “within a month of arriving in England, I was booked on the cheapest ski trip in Europe. There were only seven of us on this rattly old suburban bus bound for Tignes from Waterloo station. Juliette and I met each other on that bus, and got to know each other over the ensuing months and years and then two years later, we were married!”
“If you don’t hurry up and become a better skier Darren, you won’t be able to ski with the family!” Darren’s wife Juliette, who is a life-long skier, told Darren one day. She was concerned that Darren was not going to be able to keep up with their three children, all of whom had skied from a young age. “The pressure was on” says Darren, such was the importance of skiing to the Neylon family.
Lucky that Darren put the time in to improving his technique - “cleaning up against dad on the slopes was always a key objective for them” he said when talking about his three children - something all parents can relate to!
Darren describes skiing as a “core family activity” - he obviously improved enough to build the passion for skiing in his children, with two of them working seasons in Courchevel in the French Alps. Only recently Darren returned from a trip to the area, staying in La Tania. The 3 Valleys is one of Darren’s favourite ski areas, but he confesses that he rarely ventures away from the piste poles. Perhaps his next holiday should be a Beginners Off Piste trip with Freshtracks?
When Darren was developing his skiing, he came across a Ski Club of Great Britain Leader who offered to show him and his wife around the resort the following day. Following the blue jacket around La Plagne was Darren’s first experience of the Ski Club, and he loved it. As the Neylon family grew however, they lost touch with the Ski Club, and as a result, family groups are a key target Darren feels passionately about connecting with, believing there is “a great opportunity here”.
Interactions with new target audiences is something Darren is particularly interested in developing in order to help the Club grow; “snowboarders, students, families, youth – we need to understand what product we should offer to these groups and how can we attract them in to the Club?” It’s not just holiday enthusiasts that Darren is keen to attract, as he highlights the numerous GB domestic markets that will be targeted with Ski Club products.
Admittedly, opportunity is a word the new CEO uses frequently “There’s a lot of opportunity out there, and the Ski Club is in an ideal position to pursue those opportunities. Exciting times!”