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What if you did this instead of going to one extra conference next year?

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I have a friend. Shocking, I know. This friend, like you, runs a seasonal business. And running a seasonal business, as we all know, can be tough.

But he’s managed to build an incredibly successful operation that spans not only his original season (summer) but his off season as well (sound familiar?).

When asked how he did it, he put a significant amount of the credit on one, simple thing.

The Crew
Somewhere along the way he met a guy running the same business as him but a few states over. A conversation was started, one thing led to another, and before long they had a group of 15 people like them scattered across the country.

Peers, but not competitors.

All of these business owners agreed to one, simple thing: every quarter the entire group would travel to one of their businesses and receive a full tour of their operation including:

  • Their books
  • How they managed hiring and personnel
  • Supplier relationships
  • What they hired for and what they outsourced
  • How they cut costs and increased margins
  • Pricing strategy
  • New products they were offering and old products they dropped
  • All of their marketing campaigns

Naturally, that last one caught me eye and the wheels quickly began turning. Could it work in skiing?

Interesting, in recent years many such groups have already formed in things like Powder Alliance, Freedom Pass, and other partnerships around pass perks and shared benefits.

So instead of needing to start from scratch, many resorts could simply make it one more aspect of an already existing partnership.

Here’s what’s in my head as I think through this, assuming you’ve already got your group established (if not, insert that as step 1).

Step #1) Replace or Piggyback on One Conference a Year
If time/budget is tricky, drop one conference a year and replace it with three days of on site deep-diving into each other’s marketing plans, successes, failures, results, numbers, and tactics. I think 2-3 days – the average length of a conference – would be enough. Or, if you’re going to, say, Killington for NSAA East and Bolton is on your list, just plan your rotation of visits around nearby mountains.

Step #2) Pay Then Reimburse
It’s tempting to just comp up front, but I think a critical step will be going through the process as a customer. Have each member of the group book their own trip, buy their own tickets, and get reimbursed later. Bring any thoughts, concerns, or questions you had during the process to the gathering so the insights flow both ways.

Step #3) Twice a Year
Things change quickly, so I’d say try to do it twice a year. That way, with a group of 5, you get a tour of everyone’s operations about every other year, alternating summer/winter visits each time.

One Last Thought
I think a key here is to NOT give them the sanitized version you give me when I ask for an interview.

Go all in.

It only works if everyone is willing to show everything – the good, the bad, the ugly, the amazing. Are their risks? Sure. That marketer may move on to a competitor next year, but I think the value far outweigh the outlying possibilities.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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