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Lodging
Does the Concept of 4-Packs Need to Extend to Ski Resort Lodging as Well?

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
   

I have to admit, the pricing trends within the lodging world frustrate me a bit. More specifically, charts like this that show rate rising the further in advance you book.

It’s one of the reasons Liftopia has been, in my eyes, such a positive force for good in an industry like ours that, without advanced purchases, can be so heavily dependent on the weather.

But I wonder if a combination of the two can overcome my frustrations.

The Concept
For a long time we’ve been selling some form of “packs” in regard to lift tickets. These reward the purchaser’s commitment with a discount as a nice middleground between window tickets and season passes.

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison in terms of strategy, but I wonder if there’s a way to create “packs” of short, somewhat-all-inclusive vacation packages. Then leading the marketing message with the lift-ticket side to piggyback on the behavior Liftopia, et al. have generated and applying the same yield management techniques to these packages as the price increases the later one buys.

Here’s what I’m seeing.

#1) The Individual Packages
Each vacation package may be as simple as:

  • 2 nights of lodging
  • 2 full-day lift tickets / person
  • 2 chunks of resort credit or meal vouchers

#2) The Package
Then, package them up in groups of 2-4 (depending on skier behavior, perhaps trying to get weekend lodgers to come one more weekend than they usually do) with the idea of “buying your weekend trips in advance to save.”

#3) Redemption
The piece I’m still chewing on mentally is the redemption side. Part of me wants to offer something like:

  • Redeem a vacation 2 weeks in advance and get double dining credits.
  • Redeem a vacation 4 weeks our and get free tubing and double dining credits.

While I also would want to reward them for coming mid week with something like:

  • Use a vacation on Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday and get an extra night of lodging.

But I also like the simplicity of leaving a grid of such options completely out of the picture.

#4) Marketing
Then, I’d market these right along side season passes and 4-packs to locals and the group that falls somewhere outside of locals but not so distant as to take a 5-day vacation. I’d also market this heavily to the younger crowd.

Prices would start low with tiers of value or price changes along the way, all following the “buy in advance and save” mantra that you can’t say with lodging as much as you can with lift tickets.

Another Piece
A while back an upstart entrepreneur asked me what I’d do differently in marketing his product that was the equivalent of bricks: one repeated piece but endless combinations. I said:

“You want the customer to feel confident that buying X will solve Y. It’s hard when there are so many options. So create bundles of [bricks] for specific uses and their confidence will skyrocket. They’ll know that buying X will help them do Y and have a clear price to evaluate as the last piece of that equation.”

I feel the same way about ski vacations. There are so many options and prices and lengths and deals that could be combined, but if a resort gives me bundles of those options at a clear, good price, I can then feel confident and, in my experience, be much more likely to purchase.

Combine that with the pre-purchase but semi-last-minute format of something like a Zoom Room and we may be onto something.


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