local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page

 last week

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 1 - 7, 2003


Ads take direct approach

Sun Valley promoters adopt new tack

Express Staff Writer

Long heralded as North America’s first destination ski resort, Sun Valley has an established public image that managers of many newer mountain resorts certainly envy.

For many travelers, the mere mention of Sun Valley conjures up thoughts of movie stars on antique skis, five-course fireside dinners and sleigh rides under the stars.

But, in a crowded field of resorts that fight daily to gain the favor of the mere 3 percent of Americans who ski, Sun Valley cannot depend solely on its image to stay competitive with industry heavyweights like Aspen, Colo., and Park City, Utah. For Sun Valley Co., the resort owner, and the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau, which markets the resort area, effective advertising campaigns are essential.

This fall, the two entities are taking a new tack to keeping Sun Valley and Ketchum on the vacation-planning map, hoping that a change in approach can boost the region’s visitor numbers. Both organizations are focusing less on print media advertising and more on direct-marketing campaigns that target specific regions and demographic groups.

"Basically, our intention is to present the classic Rocky Mountain vacation," said Carrie Westergard, marketing director for the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber.


Chamber’s new campaign

The Chamber in September kicked off an ambitious new marketing campaign that aims primarily to sell Sun Valley and Ketchum as a timeless resort area with an array of modern facilities and services. Central to the campaign is a glossy 28-page vacation planner that features a mix of old-fashioned and modern images of visitors at leisure in the mountains.

Westergard said the Chamber is distributing 135,000 of the brochures across the nation and to a handful of groups and individuals in foreign countries. Approximately 17,000 were shipped to Blaine County residents with the hope that locals will make its information available to travel-minded friends and family members. Some 25,000 will be stocked in ski shops nationwide.


Targeting the Northwest

In addition, the Chamber plans to distribute through the next year nearly 200,000 smaller promotional packages. Much of that program will be directed to residents of California, Washington and Oregon, Sun Valley’s best-known markets.

At the same time, the Chamber is updating its Internet site, www.visitsunvalley.com, to carry the same artistic themes that are used in its printed material.

Westergard said the campaign reflects the Chamber’s current preference for direct marketing over broader, less-focused marketing plans, which can reach more people but generally cost more.


Sun Valley’s approach

Jack Sibbach, director of marketing for Sun Valley Co., said the resort company’s current ad campaign seeks to promote Sun Valley as a traditional family destination that offers unsurpassed service. "When people come to Sun Valley, they know what they are going to get: a quality experience," he said.

Sibbach said that the themes of Sun Valley Co.’s advertising have not changed for the winter season, but the approach has been altered somewhat.

Foremost, Sun Valley Co. has opted not to run display advertisements in either of the nation’s two primary skiing magazines, Ski and Skiing.


Promoting flights

Sibbach said Sun Valley Co. will instead use the money saved in withholding ads in those magazines to provide a revenue guarantee to Horizon Air for non-stop flight service this winter between two California cities—Los Angeles and Oakland—and Hailey.

Sun Valley Co. last year shared costs with the Chamber to run a series of full-color ads in the two magazines, but determined earlier this year that it must improve its accessibility to travelers. Indeed, accessibility is an issue, with readers of Ski magazine this month rating Sun Valley 66th in North America in that category.

Sun Valley Co. plans to share with the Chamber the costs of funding a new marketing campaign to promote the flights this winter.

Sibbach suggested that Sun Valley Co. will likely resume advertising in major skiing publications in "one or two years."


Corporate business

Sibbach said that although Sun Valley Resort depends largely on its solid reputation to attract return visitors and corporate groups (an estimated 75 percent of its customers come back), the marketing office does play a large role. He noted that the company typically advertises in an assortment of business publications, while also promoting the resort through direct-mail campaigns and sales trips.

"We do a lot marketing in the corporate arena," he said.

Sibbach said that Sun Valley—like many other ski resorts—today attracts a smaller percentage of out-of-state "fly-in" visitors than in previous decades. The trend, he noted, has prompted the resort to market itself increasingly in Idaho, often through print advertising and promotional packages.


Importance of Internet

The company’s Internet site, www.sunvalley.com, is also critical to marketing efforts, Sibbach said, particularly because travelers in recent years have demonstrated an interest in booking vacations more spontaneously.

Overall, Sun Valley Resort’s most cost-effective marketing tool is the word-of-mouth spread of its consistent reputation for quality, Sibbach said. "Were not the cheapest, but we’re quality."

Both Sibbach and Westergard said they believe their marketing efforts have set the foundation for a successful winter ski season in Sun Valley and Ketchum.

"We’re getting more calls than we did last year at this time," Westergard said.



City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.