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Email Marketing (All)
Before & After: An Idea Toward the Fact That Snow Reports Do Nothing for Me

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The marketing that sparked this idea is from the Vail Resorts crew.

While they do some stuff that is really impressive with their email marketing, their snow reports are rarely, if ever, useful to me in my decision to ski.

Just take a gander and I’ll chat about it below.


I use this recent send by Keystone as a visual example, but nearly all reports follow a similar trend.

  • They are tough to skim
  • Come after the window in which I make decisions about skiing on any day
  • Are hard to read on mobile
  • Have really low click rates

It feels like were trying to put the whole snow report into an email instead of using the email to get people to the full snow report where can be a much better experience than in someone’s inbox.

I actually started with a very different idea that piggybacks on the second point and one other. When I decide to ski on any given day, I do that the night before. Plus, virtually nothing on this report changes from day to day. So, if it’s going to be the same ol’, why send it when I can’t act on it?

1) The Night Before
So the first tweak I made was to create an email that would go out the night before. Instead of actuals, I used forecasts.

2) Simplify
Then, I removed tons of the information that just didn’t seem mission critical while making everything a bit bigger and easier to skim (especially on mobile). I also removed some non-essential details and directed the recipient to a full report on the website.

3) Only Changes
The changes to the report are what’s important to me – new snow, weather, new lifts, etc. – so I highlighted that. I also added a place for alerts that could be used not just for on-mountain changes, but other bits of info that may entice me onto the hill.

Here’s my draft.


I guess the gist is, it would be great if a resort gave me a reason to come when I still have the time to plan and make a decision. If I haven’t made the decision to ski before I hit the sack, by the time I wake up and make it to your email in my inbox full of last night’s messages, it’s probably too late.


  • Shredthegnarpow

    I like the look. The 14″ makes it look REALLY nice. I prefer to use Opensnow, and then see how much I have to snowblow off the driveway. For the guest, its seems easy to read in email form from a phone, which is nice.

    • Yeah, I suppose the 14″ was some subconscious optimism coming to the surface :) Totally agree on OpenSnow, I use Joel’s email 10x more than any resort report. Aside from the points mentioned above to send the day before, there is a wave of buzz BEFORE a storm that largely goes untapped by resorts.

      • Shredthegnarpow

        Yes, good point. Although VRI is now hiring for early morning snow reporters and videographers for Vail/ and BC. Twitter, Youtube, FB…that sort of job, so I think that’s a step in the right direction. At least give the people some up-to-the-minute reporting. We’ll see how it all pans out. Good post!

  • Happy to jump in since we’re talking about forecasts (by the way, snow is finally back in the forecast for the Rockies this weekend, but 14″ overnight might be a stretch:-) We see the highest traffic to on the DAYS LEADING UP TO a big storm, not necessarily on the storm day itself. So Gregg is exactly right that there’s a lot of pre-storm excitement to tap into. That said, the skiing public is very sensitive to storms being over-hyped, so a 5-day forecast for a storm should be talked about with guarded excitement, not over-the-top exuberance. Also, Gregg’s comment about highlighting changes in the snow report is an excellent suggestion, but overall the current snow report model is really frustrating. We’re constantly dealing with missing and incorrect data in the feed, and that’s largely a fault of resorts not giving enough attention to the report. Even though the data in the report might be largely irrelevant, it is still the most frequently viewed link that much of the skiing public has with a resort.

    • Was hoping you’d chime in, Joel. On second glance, I should have made the forecast amount a range, but as I’ve said before, I really think your takeaway of how much buzz there is BEFORE the storm is huge even if the forecast is imperfect or the enthusiasm is guarded and limitations are clear.

  • Adrienne

    When I lived in the Front Range, I’d often check OpenSnow (ahem, Joel, you’re welcome for the plug) and compare snow totals before I decided where to ski that day (getting up early and having a multi-mtn pass had its perks). While not all guests make their decisions that way, I couldn’t imagine the multitude of pitchforks and torches that would come my way if we sent out a preemptive snow forecast email and were wrong. The suggestion gave me something to think about, but maybe the forecast alerts are better suited for teasing on social media rather than sending an email to our snow alerts list.

    PS – long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Got over my stage fright today.

    • Adrienne, welcome to the commenting crowd! Glad you got over your stage fright :)

      Great point and on second thought my draft would be much better in a range of 7-14″ or the like. Though, your comment about OpenSnow makes me think that, if you said the forecast came from OpenSnow, you could use Joel as sort of a scapegoat if things didn’t pan out.

      Not that I’d do that too harshly even though Joel is very open about what goes wrong (in fact, you could link to his dailysnow where he talks about what went wrong), but I think there may be a way to use a forecast, its limitations (like a disclaimer/extra tidbit of “forecasts of 7″+ have been right 83% of the time this year”), and a source like Joel to work around some of those concerns.

  • Pingback: Early, Late, Before, After? Hitting the Sweet Spot for Resort Snow Reporting. | SlopeFillers()

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