skip to main content

How Get Ski Tickets is Turning Marketplace Traffic into Direct Bookings for Resorts

divider image for this post

It’s no surprise that the lift ticket marketplace model – where a site lists your products, handles the transactions, and then sends you your cut – has fallen out of favor with resort marketing and revenue teams. Direct bookings are the name of the game. One of these marketplaces, Get Ski Tickets, found themselves in an interesting position as this trend evolved. As resorts showed less interest in their marketplace, the traffic to their marketplace was still massive and, in many cases, growing. How could they take advantage of all that high-intent traffic to help resorts drive direct bookings?

The GST team came up with a simple, clever solution: they’ll list your products for free, you just pay for premium placement. Then, when skiers click on your products, those links will take them directly into your booking engine to increase conversion and ROI on these clicks. Shoppers are able to quickly buy what they’re looking for and resorts get more direct bookings. I sat down with Get Ski Tickets’ Brandon Quinn to get the scoop.

Gregg: Brandon, I think a lot of people in the industry know your company already but just give us a quick overview of who you are and what you’re known for.

Brandon: Sure thing, Gregg. Always a pleasure to connect with you! We’re a family-owned business, based in Denver, Colorado with 16 years of experience servicing the ski industry. For those that don’t know, we’re more than a wholesale marketing channel. We focus on our time on three core product lines; Marketplace & Ski-Direct (which I think we’ll get to in a minute), Contact Center Solutions that help ski resorts, hotels, DMO’s, etc. with private-labeled call center services or overflow for high-volume / after hours support, and Ski Commerce which is a comprehensive e-commerce solution, enabling resorts to sell their products directly through their website using a white-labeled version of Inntopia

Gregg: Let’s dig into Ski-Direct. Give us a 30-second, plain English version of what this new concept is and how it relates to Get Ski Tickets.

Brandon: Ski-Direct is a digital marketing platform that provides sales and marketing teams a powerful tool to reach a wider audience of skiers and snowboarders who are actively in the purchasing cycle. Our marketplace aggregates lift tickets, rentals, passes and more from over 400 different ski resorts all in one location. 

Resorts gain a competitive edge with featured website placement, targeted marketing opportunities, and cost-effective advertising solutions with trackable ROI. Our expanded marketplace is designed to connect skiers and snowboarders with ski resort products, allowing consumers to easily compare pricing, availability, and purchase a full range of skiing opportunities – directly from the resorts themselves. 

Gregg: Compare Ski Direct to something marketers might already be familiar with. Is it buying ad space like on a media outlet? Is it PPC like on Google Search? Something else?

Brandon: Ski-Direct is akin to a targeted advertising platform, specifically tailored for the ski industry. It’s not exactly like buying ad space on a media outlet, where you pay for a broad audience and hope to catch the right eyes. Nor is it precisely like PPC (Pay-Per-Click) on Google Search, where you bid on keywords and pay for clicks.

screenshot of featured partner carousel

Gregg: How do costs work?

Brandon: Ski resorts benefit from a pre-negotiated fixed cost. This model offers financial predictability and eliminates the uncertainties associated with fluctuating ad costs, common in PPC campaigns. It allows resorts to budget effectively for their marketing expenditures and avoid the unpredictability of cost-per-click models.

Gregg: Walk through a potential customer journey a little bit. How would the average user find GST, how/where would they see a featured listing within the GST site, and where would they ultimately end up booking a ticket or pass?

Brandon: Customers reach our marketplace through paths such as organic search, referring websites, direct traffic, email, and paid advertising, each leading to the site’s extensive ski deal offerings. Resorts participating in our Ski-Direct program are showcased on the homepage, state pages, individual ski resort pages, and through our blog. 

This deliberate showcasing facilitates easier discovery and comparison of the best deals as well as funnels skiers directly into the booking engines of our ski resort partners where the transaction takes place.

Gregg: So clickers actually go directly to the booking engine, not the marketing site?

Brandon: We aim to streamline the booking process, guiding customers to the booking engine quicker than the resorts’ own websites, where navigating and booking products can often be cumbersome.

screenshot of feature placement

Gregg: How does this fit in with your traditional role as a marketplace that is actually handling the transactions? Will this live side-by-side with you selling tickets on your site or does this feel more like the future of Get Ski Tickets?

Brandon: Great question! This season, we operated our traditional ‘tour-operator’ marketplace and Ski-Direct platform concurrently, significantly expanding our partnership opportunities. Some resorts, previously hesitant to use our marketplace for distribution, embraced our Ski-Direct program. 

Gregg; What kind of resorts are jumping on Ski-Direct?

Brandon: Boyne Resorts, a past distribution partner, is a prime example. They leveraged our marketplace through Ski-Direct this year, effectively tracking conversions and ROI originating from our marketing efforts. Our goal is to accommodate the diverse marketing and sales philosophies of ski resorts, offering a spectrum of collaboration options. Resorts can select the model that aligns best with their strategy, whether it’s engaging with our marketing at a fixed upfront cost or using our marketplace on a commission basis. 

Gregg: If a resort doesn’t pay, will they still get some traffic from Get Ski Tickets? 

Brandon: This is an interesting discussion we continue to have internally about how we can provide consumers the optimal user experience by providing access to our aggregated ski products at 400+ North-American ski resorts while ensuring that our participating partners get the biggest value using our marketplace.  

screenshot of ski direct placement

Gregg: What are the biggest perks of being a paid partner?

Brandon: We now have a full season’s worth of metrics in place that show resorts that are either using our traditional wholesale program or our Ski-Direct option are getting far more exposure on average than resorts not engaging with our program. We invested a lot of energy into ensuring our participating partners are properly featured through our marketplace through our homepage listings, state pages and individual ski resort landing pages as well as through our blog, email campaigns and other high traffic locations on the site. 

A key part of our future featured ski resort placement is the ability for resorts to target and cherry pick which ski resorts they want to directly compete with and capitalize on their competitor’s market share. This sets the stage for an interesting and unique way for ski resorts to use our marketplace as a modern guerrilla marketing approach.

Gregg: Anything in the works on Ski Direct that’s coming soon people should know about?

Brandon: We have several initiatives in the pipeline that we are working on for upcoming enhancements. The first one is connecting with the mega pass entities to strategically list and feature the various pass programs to drive sales over the summer and fall. 

We are also going to examine the feasibility of aggregating and syncing daily lift ticket rates across all 400+ ski resorts. We’ve built a syncing script that we’ve used extensively across all the major point of sale systems to gather live pricing and availability. This will give customers the ability to query our marketplace for the lowest rate on a lift ticket in their desired ski region and combine it with optimal snow conditions. 

There’s a ton of interesting things we can do once we have all the daily lift ticket pricing and availability. Having this data as an API could lend itself to other entities for all sorts of interesting use cases.

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.

Get the weekly digest.

New stories, ideas, and jobs delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.