When I first wrote about the Freedom Pass back in 2014, I loved it.
I loved that small ski areas were coming together, I loved that this was happening in the East, and I loved the brands that were involved.
After a year of lessons, some tweaks were made. Now, two years after launch, it’s headed in a new, improved direction.
In that 2014 post I started by recapping how the pass was a mix of two models: The Mountain Collective and Powder Alliance.
“With very little lodging between these resorts, this resembles many of the areas on the Powder Alliance pass. Each of them also sits in close proximity to a city (or right in town for McIntyre) which makes an hours drive doable, but long enough compared to their normal ski commute that it shouldn’t cannibalize sales.”
At the time there was a $50 cost to the pass, but it came with unlimited skiing. The pivot takes a play from the Powder Alliance’s book that, according to the marketing directors I’ve spoken with, has absolutely make a measurable difference on pass sales. Here’s what Bolton Valley’s Josh Arneson’s said about it:
“This year the up-charge has been dropped and the number of partner mountains has increased to thirteen, spanning the country from Alaska to Maine. The concept is simple. Pass holders at participating mountains are now able to get three complimentary lift tickets at each partner mountain this season. There is no additional charge so all full pass holders at each partner mountain are automatically part of the Freedom Pass. Pass holders simply take their pass to a partner mountain to receive a complimentary lift ticket for the day. There is a limit of one ticket per pass holder, per day and a limit of three tickets per pass holder at each partner mountain over the season.”
The resorts involved include five of the original group of six ski areas (all but Ski Ward) and add four from New England / Mid-Atlantic:
One from the midwest:
And three from the rest of the country:
Very similar in size, resources, and market position, it’s nice to see it keep the same vibe as the original Freedom Pass.
It will be interesting to see the perception among skiers of putting small ski areas from both coasts on a pass. My gut says it won’t increase the perceived value much, but it certainly won’t hurt. So unless New England branding is a primary objective (which it doesn’t appear to be) there’s little reason not at this point.
All-in-all, I love how closely they’ve followed the pattern that Powder Alliance has tested and proven over the last few years.
Not all marketing, especially among smaller mountains with fewer resources and less room for risk, has to be completely novel. Josh and crew tried something new, saw promise, took what was working, and blended it with a model that already was.
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