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Season Passes (All)
Bolton and Smugglers’ Notch Show Students Some Love with 2forU Pass

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Students don’t have a lot of cash to spend on passes. They don’t always have Dad’s credit card to spend on a week’s worth of spring break lodging and probably won’t rack up much of a tab (if they are even old enough to drink) at the bar. Yet, there is something to be said about resorts that show students some love and let them shred to their hearts content (and their grades’ detriment) during the college years.

Short term, not a big money maker. But long term, if loyalty can be generated, students can be a very valuable group to have on your side especially in areas where graduates often stay local after they get a degree.

Smugglers’ Notch and Bolton Valley teamed up to offer a joint season pass this year to college students. For $249, a full time student gets unlimited skiing at both resorts. I’m sure they exist, but I’ve never seen a multi-resort pass designed especially, and exclusively, for students. To me, that sends the right message to that group. A good price for a good product.

However, with this topic on the brain, let me also address an issue with student passes. Not directly marketing, but certainly relevant.

The Last Piece
I hope this isn’t widespread, but I often felt like a “lesser” passholder when I used to hold a student pass. Like, somehow, because I wasn’t contributing as much to the bottom line, I wasn’t important enough to treat nicely.

Here’s a quick example. My brother-in-law was a long-time passholder to Beaver Mountain in northern Utah. Once, on the final run of the day, he lost his pass. He knew exactly where it was, but didn’t realize he was actually gone until he reached the bottom. He pled for the chance to go back up and retrieve it, but Marge, who has cheerfully taken my credit card for a day pass dozens of times through the years, angrily refused his request and told him the only option was to pay $50 to replace his pass.

The Full Enchilada
I’m psyched to see that Bolton and Smuggs are showing some love to an often overlooked group, but I hope they (and every other resort) see college students as fertile ground to plant long term seeds of loyalty through customer service as well. Shaft them when they need you, and 40 years of loyalty could be lost. Bail them out when they have no where to turn, and they might love you for life.

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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