Friday, January 27, 2012

Screaming ski pass deals were brilliant

     One marketing consultant after another has said that the Sun Valley area needs to attract younger skiers and boarders to sustain and grow winter business over the long term.

     How to do that has been a real head-scratcher for a relatively remote destination resort that led the pack by welcoming snowboarders but was late to terrain parks, halfpipes, cross-courses, jumps and rails.

     Limited marketing funds have added to the problem.

     The other brainteaser that has kept valley leaders awake at night is trying to figure out how to create customers for life.

     Part of the solution presented itself last Sunday. Hundreds of families and individuals were introduced or reintroduced to the joys of Bald Mountain courtesy of $35 day passes.

     Sun Valley Resort had joined forces with Fly Sun Valley Alliance to make the passes available, market them and raise money for the alliance.

     A big enthusiastic crowd at River Run Lodge at the end of the day pronounced the effort wildly successful.

     The day drew regional and local skiers, many of whom hadn’t been on skis for a while. Some had never skied Baldy. And instead of just dad or mom or the teenager on the mountain, whole families skied and boarded together.

     We’re pretty sure people turned some attics upside down to dig out and dust off mothballed gear for the big day.

     Baldy’s regulars laid down impressive turns, but so did intermediates and newbies whose presence on the mountain has shrunk over the years.

     What was most noticeable was that the price break seemed to lower the average age of skiers and boarders on the mountain—the very thing marketers and businesses have sought.

     Baldy sees fewer skiers in January than other months so it’s a perfect time to create some buzz, discount some tickets and put more skiers on a mountain that is operating full out anyway—no matter how many customers show up.

     Marketers know that people can be creatures of habit about products they buy. Recreation and travel are no different. Establishing recreation and travel habits requires building familiarity and emotional bonds with people. An experience must leave them wanting more.

     Sunday did that.

     Baldy’s deep new snows, perfectly groomed runs, warm elegant lodges and the camaraderie that envelops only the happily exhausted were all anyone could have asked for.

     We can build customers for life if we reach out, invite people in and introduce them to our favorite mountain from time to time.

     Sunday was a day worth repeating.

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