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Is SMS Marketing Dead in the Water for Ski Resorts?

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Meeting someone who doesn’t text is often like meeting someone who isn’t on social media (though I find they are often the same people). While they exist, they are rare. My parents even shoot me a text every few weeks, approximately the same amount of time it takes them to produce each message.

With adoption so high and phones in the pocked of so many skiers, shouldn’t SMS be a gold mine for resort marketing?

I’m leaning toward “no” for four reasons.

The first issue is cost. Even in bulk, marketers typically spend around $0.05 per SMS message (up to $0.25 at times) which is anywhere from 5-20x as much as many per-email costs.

SMS is like an email with just a subject line. While character limits work fine for Twitter where there is no per-message fees, the limitations are another strike against this channel.

I’ve seen resorts send emails to guests that are in-resort (instead of SMS messages) and get 50%+ open rates . Squaw built “free” messaging right into their mobile app.

I don’t have any first hand experience with this, but I’ve heard from resort trying to build these lists that the capture rate is frustratingly low. Alternatively, verifying that a number in your database accepts texts can be problematic as well so you’re not paying to send messages to non-texting phones.

My Verdict
In my book, SMS just doesn’t add up with you look at alternatives. If you can send an email, full of creative, to someone who isn’t at a computer and get 50% opens at a fraction of the cost without having to build a new list or verify if a guest wants/uses texting, SMS loses any attractiveness it had.

Even the one-time cost of building on an app platform like Squaw seems it would pay off in the long run if direct-to-phone messages are a key element in your strategy going forward.

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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