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A local ski area’s huge advantage (to me) over their 20x-larger neighbor resort.

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I’ve often said that one of the best ways to come up with marketing insights is learning to notice what influences you.

To notice the dozens (if not hundreds) of small things that get you to act or click or read or buy or notice or stop or look or look again every single day.

This is one of those.

Big vs Small
Last year I bought a pass to Snowbasin. I was not disappointed. Tons of terrain, great lodges, and a solid snow year made for a great season.

But despite all the powder that fell, I only snagged a few untracked runs.

I’ll try to explain why with a heavily-estimated illustration of how my workday typically flows when you compare the time of day with how busy I usually am.
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The day starts busy and stays busy until somewhere around 10:30 when I wrap up the most pressing to-dos and a pre-lunch lull starts to set it. I tie up a handful of loose ends and smaller projects and emails before and during lunch before it ramps back up for the afternoon as I tackle larger projects that take a few hours to crank out.

Finally, around the 3:30-4:00, the big stuff winds down and it’s back to tying up loose ends before the day wraps up.

Of all those points, the most consistently busy part of that day is the morning. Even more, it’s also my least flexible where requests and tasks from others direct my work more than my own objectives. Someone needs something done and it needs to be done soon.

The (Obvious) Problem
I’m lucky to have a schedule that allows me a bit of flexibility. Ryan Solutions is, after all, what some would call a “lifestyle” company. We get the work done, but if our workload allows it, we also take advantage of the amazing places we live.

The problem, however, is summed up in one screenshot from the Snowbasin snow report:


As you’d expect, all the lifts open at 9am on weekdays. Which, when overlaid on my workload, makes my chart look like this.
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So even though I do have lulls and time to sneak away, the best snow is only available when I’m not. By the time my workload would let me grab a few runs, the pow is gone.

Enter Nordic Valley
I only spent one afternoon at Nordic Valley last year but had a really great time.

Some afternoon @nordicvalley double chair laps to close out the week.

A photo posted by Gregg Blanchard (@slopefillers) on

It’s super close to my house, full of locals, and you park right next to the lift.

This proximity comes at a cost. Nordic Valley sits at a much lower elevation which means their season starts almost a month later than Snowbasin and finishes about a month earlier. It also covers just 110 acres compared to Snowbasin’s 3,000.

But as I browsed their website this spring, something really caught my eye:


Yes, Nordic Valley opens at 11:00am on weekdays.

Like I said, this was one of those moments I noticed my own behavior changing, but this is effectively what went through my head.

“I guess this is a choice between fewer powder days that I CAN ski or lots of powder days that I CAN’T. I never stay long on weekdays anyways, so 110 acres of fresh is more than enough. Have to admit, I really like the idea of being able to work hard, not leaving important tasks hanging, but also getting fresh turns once I’m done.”

The value of this insight on a broad scale comes down to one question: are working skiers (within a reasonable drive distance of resorts) busiest first thing in the morning (i.e., “I’ll just go in a bit late”) or later in the day (i.e., “I’ll sneak away during lunch.”).

Whatever the reasons for Nordic Valley’s decision to open later, in my situation it’s given them a competitive advantage over a resort 20x their size.

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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