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Season Passes (All)
Is predicting pass sales from the Spring pace a lost marketing cause?

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Like bifocals for your hindsight, data let’s you look back and see how your marketing performed, where any weaknesses were, and what you might be able to do about them.

Even better, though, data let’s you look forward, though the accuracy of such foresight is the trick.

Spring Pass Sales vs Overall Sales
In July, I took at look at a dozen resorts’ pass sales so far that year. What I found was that, for the resorts in the sample, Spring pass sales (before July 1) were up 7% over last year.

This, however, wasn’t as exciting as it could have been because of recent trends to sell more before summer arrives:

Since 2007, Spring pass sales have gone up significantly so an extra 7% could mean that a resort or two is pushing harder before the season ends.

Sure enough, it wasn’t as positive a sign as you’d hope. By Dec 31, overall sales were 5% lower than the previous year (look closely and you’ll notice the same thing happened in 2007-2008):

Spring pass sales are a tough indicator to use for overall sales on a macro scale. But what about a resort by resort basis?

Unfortunately, I found much of the same. Spring sales could double and overall sales could slump, or visa versa. Sometimes the early pace was extremely slow but picked up rapidly come fall and sent overall sales above the previous year.

The Split Test
Part of the problem here is the length of this cycle, right? To get a better idea of YOY pace you’d probably want to use the exact same marketing as last year. But the rest of the equation (what your competitors are doing, snowfall differences, etc.) are tough to account for.

So, I guess my final take away is this: Spring pass sales can be an indicator, but probably not a very accurate one. This, however, doesn’t mean you should ignore your pace. I’d definitely watch it, but I’d also not panic if it’s a little off the trajectory you hoped for.

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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