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Extending Pass Deadlines: Iffy Excuses or Valid Reasons?

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When I was a youngin’, I remember my father teaching me one of my first marketing lessons as we drove by a soon-to-be defunct furniture store. The sign, with a bright orange background, read, “Going out of business sale! Three days only! Last chance. Save 75% until Sunday!” My dad, having seen this situation many times before, gave me a challenge. “You watch,” he said, “there will two more weeks of sales like this before they actually go out of business.” He was wrong. There were six.

The thing is, deadlines work. It builds urgency which drives people to buy. But every time a deadline is extended, it’s like crying wolf. To get the wheels turning, here are a few reasons for recently extended deadlines on passes:

“The Extra Innings weekend has become a quick hit, and we felt that extending the season pass deadline through until the last day of this season made sense.”
Bolton Valley

“Due to popular demand, pass sales have been extended only through 12/5”
Vail Resorts

” Parents who fear they have missed the opportunity to turn in their child’s 5th Grade Passport or 6th Grade SnowPass application should no longer worry as Ski Utah has extended the original Jan. 31 deadline to Feb. 15.”
Ski Utah

“We’re extending our Season Pass Super Sale! There were a lot of people rushing to get their orders in over the weekend and the storm put many of you without power, so we want to give everyone some extra time to get their Season Pass this winter, especially since the deals are so awesome this year! Do not fret, you still have time!”
Camelback Mountain Resort

So, we have:

  • “It just made sense.”
  • “Due to popular demand.”
  • “In case you were worried.”
  • “Storm-caused power outage.”

Out of those four, only Camelback seems to have a solid reason for extending deadlines. Even last night, as I double checked this post to make sure it had a sufficient number of typos, Squaw Valley extended the Super Pass deadline by 48 hours after an announcement earlier in the day that it was the last day. No reason was given, but I wonder if that’s the best way to do it.

Issue #1: To Reason or Not to Reason
From my experience with deadlines, the real reason for extending deadlines usually boils down to one of two things. First, something legitimate prevented folks from buying or seeing your offer and morally, or even legally, you should probably give more time. Even now, I wouldn’t mind if Snowcial extended their deadline for early registration until they have their speakers listed. The second typically is that sales aren’t has high as we hoped and an extension (announced at the last minute) creates another sales-generating deadline and time for promotion. So, those are our reasons as marketers.

But what is the best way to present this to the skiers? Give them a reason (if you have a legitimate one), use a vague motive (like “it just made sense”), or simple say the deadline is extended and leave it at that? I don’t know. Consumers are smart, something tells me they see through the vague generalities..

Issue #2: The Resort Who Cried Wolf
There is certainly a place for extending deadlines, but from my classic survey sample of one (aka, my opinion), I think there is definitely concern for a case of crying wolf. My mind goes back to my college years when one professor was consistently 10-15 minutes late for class. Slowly, everyone, myself included, started showing up later and later. One day, the professor showed up on time and started into a critical test-prep section with 90% of his pupils yet to arrive. Needless to say, students weren’t happy.

Replace “class start time” with “season pass deadline” and “professor” with “resort marketer” and I think you’ll get my drift. Deadlines and the occasion extension can be powerful tools, but should be used carefully and sparingly.

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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