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Is Heavenly’s “Tahoe Stash” Site Jading Locals to Draw Visitors?

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Trail maps, no matter how detailed they get, never seem to show where the best runs are, for good reason. The best trails, if announced publicly, would soon become the worst, quickly tracked out and crowded with skiers and boarders that shouldn’t be riding that sort of terrain. As a local, you know which runs those are and you’ll rarely (if ever) disclose their location. It wasn’t until I had skied a local mountain for nearly 3 years that I learned where the stashes were, as if some unwritten checklist had suddenly been crossed off and I was allowed into the club. It happens at resorts all over the world, it’s one of the perks of being a local, and part of the reason season pass holders put up with flocks of destination skiers year in and year out.

All of this, however, makes me question a new website Heavenly put together called “Tahoe Stash”.

Tagline: “Where the Local’s Ride”
I’m not questioning this site because it’s bad marketing for guests. Who wouldn’t want to know what secrets the locals aren’t sharing during friendly lift-ride conversations? I question the balance between keeping season pass holders happy and giving destination skiers a reason to visit your mountain. Simply put, the “Tahoe Stash” website lures skiers in by showing three things:

  1. Where the locals ski
  2. How to get there
  3. How to ski it

It does so through an interactive trail map and a series of simple, well-made videos. The site is well designed, built on WordPress, and allows for commenting for addition social proof of run quality. Viewed solely through the lens of destination visitor marketing, it does a great job.

Worth the Risk?
For me, part of the reason season passes are worth it is because I know that on any given day, I can tap into one of my favorite stashes and find great snow. Take those pockets of powder out of the question and suddenly my pass doesn’t seem quite as awesome. The risk, as I’m sure Heavenly knows, is losing loyal pass holders to other Tahoe mountains because their favorite stashes have become overrun by Texans with GoPros.

You’d need to either get so many visitors coming because of this insider-information that it makes up for any lost season pass revenue or keep it secret and lure them in with other offers. Which makes me wonder, if you have that many people coming because of how great the skiing is in a half-dozen secret runs, would that same group, just by its size, also make the skiing on those runs less special?

Is advertising secret spots nothing more than an oxymoron?

Some Hesitancy?
The site is intriguing for a few reasons, as I’ve stated above, but also for another.   Take a few minutes and browse Heavenly’s website. Check out information for those planning a trip or learning more about the mountain. At the exact points you’d want to use this awesome add-on to lure travelers to book a vacation, how many links do you see to the Tahoe Stash website? None. Search for “Tahoe Stash” using the site engine. Nothing.

It’s tough to draw any conclusions about their goals simply because it isn’t linked from the main site (perhaps they are tying it to a unique print, TV, or web campaign) but the more I look around the more I get the feeling that there might be a little hesitancy from the Heavenly crew to commit 100% and share their best runs with the world. After all, once they do, it’s kinda hard to go back.

Again, it’s an interesting and well executed idea, we’ll just have to wait and see how much it is pushed and the feedback from locals before any conclusions can be drawn.

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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