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Let’s Face it, Skiing Is No Longer Enough – Part 2

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In part 1 of this post we established the possibility that the act of skiing is not enough, and I stand by that. If it were enough we’d all by riding at $40/day ski hills on skis we picked up at a second hand store. Why would we pay for a laundry list of skiing “add ons” (gear, resorts, lifts, etc.) if they didn’t somehow improve the experience? But how do all these things, the hotels and lifts and technology and gear, how do they make skiing more…how do they make skiing better? And what does that mean to you as a marketer?

The way I see it, it comes down to three areas:

Some of these elements enhance the actual skiing experience. An essential part of creating the product that is skiing. In this category I’d throw:

  • High-tech skis that make turning easier and clothes that keep me warm and look cool
  • A season pass or lift ticket system that lets me go skiing more frequently
  • Lifts that give me more time on the snow.
  • Snowmaking that lets me ski when otherwise I wouldn’t have.
  • Terrain parks that help skiers and riders feel the rush of a landing a big trick
  • Music in our head-phones that dramatizes the moment
  • …and many more.

We could ski without all these things, but when we can ski more, be warm doing so, do cooler things, and ski longer with no extra effort on our part, that helps us enjoy the moment a little bit more. But remember, the moment doesn’t last, so that’s where the memory comes in.

The next category of skiing “add-on” are things that helps us remember the moment, and by remembering, bring back those feelings of exhileration or freedom we felt on the hill. These would include:

  • Apps that track your lift rides, vert, and runs to relive our day
  • Video and photos we take on the hill that we share with others
  • Movies that let us ski vicariously through the lens
  • Wall posts, tweets, blog posts, and other social media that let us share the experience with others
  • Hotel rooms with views of the runs we skied so we can remember the lines we took, snow, etc.
  • …and of course, much more.

Just like “the experience” all of these things are not essential to skiing. I could be a happy skier by never remembering and sharing my story with anyone. But these things are designed to make us happier skiers by giving us ways to relive our turns over and over and over again, bringing back the feeling and making us want more. Sharing our story is natural to being human. There is a reason the car is rarely silent on the way home from a deep powder day. Things that help us both tell our story and relive our turns are powerful tools.

Now why, in heaven’s name, would we want to forget our day on the hill? The day might have been amazing, but it’s evening now and I’m wearing a pair of Nike sneakers, not Dalbello boots. One thing other activities at a resort are there to do is help you have fun while you are off the hill so you aren’t constantly wishing you could be using pines as slalom gates like you did from 9-4. These would include:

  • Bars (though these usually help with the “story” side of things)
  • Shopping, restaurants, and spas
  • Swimming pools, hot tubs
  • Fast, convenient wi-fi signatls
  • Concerts, ice skating, movies, casinos, any form of night life, etc.
  • Flat screen TVs and a long list of channels in hotel rooms
  • …the list goes on.

Things that helps us have fun off the hill also help us to forget about how lame it is that we’re not skiing. These play an important role in the marketing of skiing, especially for destination resorts. Your guests may only last 6-7 hours on the hill, but what will they be doing the rest of the time?

This is nothing new, we know that skis helps us enjoy skiing, concerts are cool, and taking/sharing pictures is fun.  What I do hope is that this post will help separate all these “add-ons” in a way that helps us not only identify the goals of each, but have some way to analyze new marketing ideas and see where they fit.

So next time you write a post or tweet, sit down to design a new app, or planning amenities for the new lodge, maybe it will help just a little to think of how each thing will enhance the experience, help your skiers relive the fun, or help them have fun despite the fact that at that very moment they are not doing what they came there to do: SKI.

P.S. – This is the 100th post. Kinda fun. Many thanks again for everyone’s support.

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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