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Season Passes
Mission Ridge’s pass strategy is a clever play against the big guns.

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A few weeks ago I published a new interview with the marketing director of Mission Ridge: Tony Hickok.

Less than two weeks later, I published another story about how I felt that Vail Resorts is much further ahead of pretty much anyone and everyone in the industry than I thought.

There was one line Tony mention that I want to dig into, but before I do let’s do a quick bullet-point recap of Vail’s pass strategy. Specifically, three areas:

  • The goal is to sell 1,000,000 passes
  • Sales start in March, continue into the early months of the season and then stop
  • Urgency is driven by deadlines and price increases along the way

Now, that line from Tony I keep thinking about:

“A shift to a quantity-based, rather than a date-driven deadline system has been one of the most important decisions for Mission Ridge. It has helped us move the needle.”

And what does he mean when he says “move the needle?” Well, just what you imagine, but here are a few more specifics about what he’s referring to:

“We didn’t change people’s behavior with respect to what they were buying, just when they were doing it. The biggest group of passholders are still getting their passes for the next season at the lowest prices. The thing that has changed is they are locking that value in on the first day, or first couple days, of the sale instead of waiting until the final 24-48 hours before a standard date deadline. They are geared up for the next season in March when we have our full complement of season pass and ticketing staff instead of May or June.”

A lot of smaller resorts are trying to figure out how to compete against the consolidated players. Some are right in those markets, some, like Mission Ridge, don’t feel the heat quite as intensely.

But when I think about this scenario, I really like quantity-driven deadlines.

Quantity vs Ikon/Epic
With so many markets and a rinse-and-repeat process they’ve relied on for years and expectations of shareholders and more, I think Vail/Alterra would really, really struggle to play this quantity-driven game.

Which means that instead of getting all their pass sales on the day they launch, they get all their sales right before the deadline.

See where I’m going with this?

Think about it this way. If skiers have limited dollars to spend (they do) and you are competing for the same passholders as a big pass (you probably are) and the earliest the market suggest you can roll out passes is March (it probably is), they why not consider rolling out a campaign that gets people to buy your product in March instead of forcing them to choose between the two sometime down the road? Why not drive your wave of urgency long before your competition can?

Food for thought.

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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