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Defining (and Optimizing) Value at Every Step of the Resort Vacation Experience

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A while back I ran into small business marketing consultant, Kurt Gellert, on Twitter. With a unique perspective on skiing, marketing, and families, a guest post topic came up and he obliged. Really like this concept and definitely worth a read.

Getting “value” out of any experience these days is essential for every family. How much you get for your dollar spent is key to determining just how much “value” you gain.

Ski travel is a costly endeavor with a lot of challenges for families. With some creativity ski resorts can deliver greater value through enhanced services that minimize the challenges for families.

The goal for resorts should be to deliver high value services travelers would gladly pay for again, recommend that resort to friends, and return to that ski resort again versus all other resorts or vacation opportunities.

Beginning to End
Resorts must understand where their experience begins and ends for travelers and how they can directly impact that customer.

If you “map” the travelers experience there are many opportunities for the resort to provide value. The first potential opportunity may begin when the traveler decides to visit a ski resort versus other destinations. The last opportunity may be the following season when that same traveler is deciding if they want to spend their hard earned money on another ski trip.

There are many points along this continuum where resorts can improve the value of the experience at their resort. These points include when travelers research one resort versus another, when the traveler disembarks the plane or after getting their luggage at the airport, or when the traveler actually first sets foot in the resort itself.

Where and When?
When and where can a resort have an impact and deliver value? Thinking linearly, this continuum begins at when a person is deciding what to do for a vacation, ski or otherwise, and ends when the traveler is deciding where to go 12 months later. This assumes they are considering at a ski trip once again at the same point in time the following year.

Let’s map this continuum and see.

  1. Researching vacation opportunities (Deciding where to go)
  2. Booking the vacation (actually selecting and paying for the hotel, flight, ski rentals, lift tix, ground transportation)
  3. Packing for the vacation: Generating excitement (preparing for the vacation)
  4. Leaving the house for the vacation (shuttle, car, taxi, train to the airport)
  5. At the departure airport (time at the home airport)
  6. At the arrival airport (time from off the plane to gathering luggage)
  7. Transfer from the arrival airport to the resort (shuttle or car to the resort)
  8. Arrival at the resort (entering and checking into the resort and hotel)
  9. During the stay of the resort (staying in the resort)
  10. Leaving the resort (checking out and taking shuttle, car to the airport to head home)
  11. Arrival and time at the departing airport (meandering around the airport awaiting for their flight)
  12. Arrival at departure airport (gathering luggage)
  13. Ground transportation home (car, train, taxi)
  14. Arrival home (unpacking)
  15. Recalling the good and bad experiences from the trip (what memories stand out)
  16. Determining if another ski trip is how they want to spend their time and money or seek another type of vacation (what interactions with the resort has the traveler had since returning home)

There may even be more points in time between those listed above. If I’m managing a resort, then we see at least 16 opportunities to impact the traveler and elevate the value of the ski vacation. It’s not just about the tangible impressions while the traveler is in the resort, but also can be about the follow up communication after the vacation.

And how much of a rabid fan can I create through my interactions with that traveler. The big question for resorts remains: how much do I value the traveler and what am I willing to do entice them back year after year?

Most Importantly, How?
More than likely, your ability to impact the value of a traveler at any point along this continuum depends upon your technology and channels at hand, but let me give you a simple example using “Point 9: During the stay in the resort.”

Provide a “Parent’s Guide” to the resort. This would be simple guide and map to child friendly restaurants, activities, contact information, costs, etc. in the village and on the mountain. This minimizes the parents time searching for activities and eateries that are kid friendly. This could be a PDF downloadable document parents could print before they leave home. Hard copies could be provided at check-in at hotels. It could be a simple app for the smart phone.

What if you could do the same for 2 or 4 of these steps? Small, incremental improvements can have a big impact on overall value.

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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