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Growing Skiing
The most important chart I’ve ever shared?

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Yesterday I published a data set that I can’t stop thinking about.

The gist is simply this: I found all the paying, winter guests who also had Twitter accounts across 20 resorts and then found what percentage of those people called themselves a “skier” or “snowboarder” in their Twitter bio.

About 100 resort marketers predicted that percentage would be about 30%. The actual result was 2%.

You can read the full write-up here, but I wanted to say a few words more today because I think the takeaways are much deeper and more important than they may appear.

Let’s start with the obvious objection to this: not everyone uses their Twitter bio to describe who they are.

And you’re right.

After I published that data I manually reviewed the accounts of about 50 people I follow who I knew identified as a skier and almost exactly 50% used the word “skier” or “snowboarder” in their bio.

But apply that ratio to our sample and we’re still only at 4%.

In other words, the number isn’t exact, but the takeaway is hard to deny; the vast majority of ski resort guests don’t participate in our sport enough to call themselves skiers. And, so being, there are likely many, many things they enjoy more than skiing. Things they’ll easily choose first given a cold Saturday morning. Things that are competing with your marketing for their attention, and winning.

To these people, skiing is something they occasionally DO, not who they ARE.

I Know
You may be fighting that thought, I know. But if you can’t accept it right now, just suspend your disbelief for five minutes and entertain the possibility it’s true.

Because if it is, it’s huge. But also exciting.

It’s huge because our notion of who is seeing our messages may be completely different from the people who actually are.

But it’s exciting because if our marketing is effective with this mismatch between writer and reader, imagine what might happen if those two become aligned.

One Video
As I’ve thought about this idea, I keep finding myself back at one piece of content. A video. A video about someone we need a lot more of on our mountains. This family is an ideal guest.

Before you watch, listen for three things:

  • If she knows now to ski.
  • How this person describes herself.
  • Things she enjoyed about her trip.

Has she been skiing before? It’s been a while, but yes.

But when she described herself at 0:30, did you hear the word skier? No.

And what did she enjoy about her trip? Family, design, food, her instructor…the list goes on but the list – and this is really important – does NOT include 90% of the stuff we include in our ads.

No fast groomers, no powder fields, no rails, no cliffs, no perfectly dressed skiers.

“But wait,” you say, “you can’t put a gaper in your ads!”

To which I reply, “Why not?”

Because your audience might make fun of you? How many would do that? Maybe about…I dunno…2-4%?

See what I’m getting at?

We are incredibly good at talking to skiers because we are skiers. But maybe we need to get better at talking to everyone else. Much better. Because not only are they the ones in your beds and restaurants and rental shops, they’re also the ones going to the zoo this weekend because, to them, an ad with a family looking at animals is more relevant than an ad with a skier making a powder turn.

I can’t help but think that of all the charts I’ve shared, this one may turn out to be the most important of all.

  • Brayden Rudert

    Great insight on this one. It’s certainly resort specific in terms of target audience, but it always amazed me how many resorts push wide open groomers and “x” amount of peaks when a large portion of their target demographic probably cares more about how crowded the lodge gets at lunch.

    Can’t remember the last ski resort advertisement that featured a nice cozy lodge with ski moms chatting around noon. Not that it’s my style, but we all know the type that take a few runs (mainly for the workout and to say they went) and then enjoy meandering around the base area or grabbing a drink at the caf/bar.

    Equally so, I don’t see much promotion for ski school programs other than the typical “Rated #3 in the East for ski schools!” with ski instructor photos plastered all over the site. You see it with mountains that hang their hat on ski school, but what about instructor bios? How about encouraging people who took a lesson with you to leave a review on the site similar to Rate My Professor? (Hopefully with fewer poor reviews) What about explicitly outlining on the website your mountains “process”? Not giving away the secret sauce, but saying they’ll start on this lift, progress to the mid mountain, then we like taking them down trails xyz to gauge their skill level etc.

    Again, this post was spot on and could definitely benefit a lot of mountains out there when developing content.

    • Great points, Brayden. There are so many ways the takeaways from this concept could go and I love the two you brought up.

      There are a few startups trying to pull off the “rate my instructor” type angle and I’m not sure how sold I am on that angle specifically, but the idea of putting more emphasis on things that matter to these “people” and less on what doesn’t is exactly the direction this needs to go.

      Part of the challenge is the lack of normal folks in the marketing office that can empathize with and speak in the language of these guests. But if they can nail that, man, some really interesting things could happen.

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