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An Epic Progression: How Vail Resorts Drive Season Pass Sales

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I’ve been wanting to do this for a while – follow a pass promo from start to finish – but that’s easier said than done. Either I miss the first offer, a push in the middle, or just forget to keep up on things, I haven’t succeeded…yet. So this year I decided to follow a high-profile pass from a leader in the industry: the Epic Pass.

Sold in over 80 countries and making up 40% of the company’s revenue, the EpicPass is priced to sell…and sell it does. It follows a simple pattern:

  1. Set a deadline
  2. Focus marketing on one benefit that will not be available after the deadline
  3. Build lots of buzz leading up to deadline
  4. EITHER a) extend the deadline
  5. OR b) Set a new deadline with a new benefit and repeat the process

Here’s how it’s gone so far.

Stage #1 – Early April – “Lowest Guaranteed Price”
The offer created urgency by using two phrases: “best spring benefits” and “lowest guaranteed price” of $659. I think it’s important to note that both are quite vague and not as strict as they sound. The word “best” opened the door for them to keep promoting some spring benefits by simply removing the “best” stipulation from the offer, same with “guaranteed”. Here’s how it looked.

Stage #2 – April 16 – Deadline Extended a Week
As expected from seeing this happen a couple times last year, the deadline was extended. This is a tricky strategy because it can easily make deadlines meaningless if overused. It does, however, give you a chance to once again build urgency – a tactic that is proven to help drive sales.

Stage #3 – April 23 – Chance to Win 50 nights of Lodging
As soon as the “guaranteed lowest price” and “best spring benefits” ended, a new reason to buy was introduced: buy now and be entered to win 50 nights of lodging at 7 Epic resorts. The price remained unchanged at $659 but “best spring benefits” became “spring benefits” because spring skiing was no longer offered with most resorts already closed while “lowest guaranteed price” remained.

Stage #4 – May 14 – Last Chance for Spring Benefits
This push is identical to the first push that ended in mid-April with one exception: no Spring skiing. After the lodging giveaway there is still a “lowest guaranteed price” and “spring benefits” on offer but the “best” superlative was removed.

This progression has just begun so stay tuned…

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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