I had been looking forward to last week for a while.
Between the people I had involved and the insights they shared as posts trickled in, I knew some good discussion would develop and develop it did. A big thank you again to everyone for sharing your thoughts.
With so many ideas swirling, I wanted to take one post to bring it all together and see if we can identify the core ideas from each perspective.
“The internet and gaming is our biggest threat. I even find myself forcing my own kids to get out on the mountain on the weekends. They love it when they get out there, but getting them off the couch isn’t easy.I told my son the other day – nobody on their deathbed ever says, ‘I wish I’d spent more time on the internet.’ The good news is that Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram, are places people often go to boast about what they’re doing. It’s hard to get a good Instagram photo from your couch.”
“The ski industry needs to embrace social media and figure ways to use it to enhance the ski experience for their users. In this day and age you should be able to stay connected while you are on the mountain – or at least have the choice.”
Summary: The industry has much more competition now than it every had. We need to cater to the (tech) habits of the masses and work together to promote skiing.
Read Mike’s full take»
“Beyond the weather and the economy, which are certainly very big potential obstacles, one of the biggest challenges I see is for ski areas to remain relevant beyond the existing core group of participants…So much of the industry seems focused on the most passionate, the most committed, the hard core, the season pass holder. But what about the rest of your customer base?”
“The biggest opportunity in the next 10 years is to be more inclusive of all potential customers. By “inclusive” I mean reaching out to non-traditional audiences, whether it is ethnic minorities, older participants, people of more modest incomes, people of size, or other groups who might not feel embraced by the culture of snowsports. There is a large pool of people who are a socio-economic match for snowsports but who don’t currently participate.”
Summary: We need to shift some of the focus away from “core” skiers and toward non-passholders, beginners, and minorities. Then, we need to present a more logical progression from step to step as we get and keep them involved in the sport.
Read Dave’s full take»
“For those of you who haven’t joined the club yet, kids are like living anchors, dragging behind us as we half-heartedly paddle our boats toward meaningful recreation. Want to go for a hike? Your choices are something way shorter than you’d prefer, fifty extra squirming and whining pounds on your back…Now ask yourself what specialized equipment a satisfying hike requires (hint: none). Easily the most accessible outdoor pursuit in the world, hiking is such a logistical nightmare with a couple of kids that all but the most dedicated among us abandon it as a realistic option. Skiing is like outfitting a private mission to Mars in comparison.”
“Once we come to accept this about ourselves we’ll see that the X-Games and even the winter Olympics—the average American’s primary exposure to skiing—are counter-productive. They make us and our few million extreme-leaning cohorts want to experience our slightly-less-extreme version of skiing someday soon, but for the rest of the country they are a televised spectacle that bears almost no resemblance to real life and makes skiing seem big and dangerous and unapproachable.”
Summary: Skiing has two, huge issues. First, it’s incredibly difficult to do with a family. Second, the extreme side is being so heavily promoted that we’ve created a brand for our sport that makes it feel unrealistically dangerous and out-of-reach.
Read Donnie’s full take»
Mary Jo Tarallo
“First, it needs to better understand the casual skier or snowboarder which is the bulk of the market place. Only about 3 – 4 percent of the U. S. population participates. That means 96 – 97 percent do not. Second, industry research finds that the majority of newcomers are introduced to skiing and snowboarding by a friend or family member who already participates. “
“Women make 80% of the buying decisions in a family – regardless of their background. If mom is convinced that skiing and snowboarding are good investments for her family then, chances are, the family will start skiing or snowboarding. The industry could do a better job of catering to this demographic and think through what steps can be taken to capture this lucrative market. When and where mom goes, the family follows.”
Summary: We need to do a better job of working together as an industry to get people to bring their friends skiing. We also need to focus more of our marketing on mothers who make most of the decision in families.
Read Mary Jo’s full take»
“But, with skis that retail for upwards of $1000, boots that cost $600, flights, rental cars, lodging, lift tickets, lessons, day care, and $12 hamburgers, I think you have to be curious as to how many young families – now, and 10 years from now – can actually stay actively and regularly engaged with the sport.”
“I also think technology is the industry’s greatest friend at this point (and to be clear, in this arena I am a total neophyte, so this is the student, speaking to the professor). But regardless, I think of my father who owned and operated a cheese and dairy store for 30 years in central Wisconsin. He knew all of his customers by their first name…Today, technology, be it direct mail or email, social media, or what have you, pretty much enables us to say hello to 50 million people by name. “
Summary: We need to address the cost of skiing if we are going to bring in and keep young families in the sport. Technology can also be a powerful ally as we break through the noise and try to develop relationships with our customers.
Read Troy’s full take»
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