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Marketers Weigh In: Why Are Ski Resorts Still Investing in Ski Shows?

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
   

Ski shows. I went to my last show nearly twenty years ago before the last major event disappeared in the Wasatch. Today, marketers are on the fence. Some say it’s a waste of time, others wouldn’t miss them for the world.

So I asked 12 marketers if their resort still invests in ski shows and why/why not. Today I’ll share the reasons given for continuing to attend these events.

After some anonymizing to protect specific approaches, here’s what they said.

EAST

EASTERN RESORT
“We do [still attend]. Boston is the premiere event as is Toronto. We go to a few others. We go to reach the shoppers. I’m a big believer in a strong mix programs to reach skiers and snowboarders. Shows are still a viable way to do business. As long as they’re kept fresh, current and affordable.”

EASTERN RESORT
“[Our resort] does still attend a handful of ski shows. Four, in fact. We set up a booth and distribute brochures at each one. We attend Toronto because we recognize it as a market that has potential for us and we have an opportunity to introduce the resort to many Canadians who are not familiar with [our resort]. The other three shows present an opportunity for us to connect with our loyal fans where they live. It’s outreach prior to the season that allows us to share news of our capital investments and the general stoke for our sport.

I often equate the shows with a high school pep rally before the big football game. It’s a great boost for our sales and marketing team to meet with skiers and riders who adore us and it’s fun to mirror their enthusiasm in hopes of driving more business to the region and [our resort] specifically.

The shows, particularly Boston, have evolved into a marketplace of their own. In addition to scoring discounts on equipment and softgoods, snowsports enthusiasts can get some great deals on lift tickets and lodging directly from the resorts.”

EASTERN RESORT
We’ve cut our shows in about half—really limiting to ones that make sense to have a live booking presence at. I justify it by reasoning that if I can book a bunch of business and have face to face conversations with folks, it’s worth it. I was just at the Toronto show and that level of close up interaction is invaluable to me. If you asked me would those folks have booked at the show also book through other channels, I’d say yes and probably an 85-95% clip but, at least for me, the irreplaceable piece is the level of genuine, real interaction. I had a couple in their 50’s come up and tell us they drive all the way to the show, (about an hour) because it feels like they’re at [our resort] when they’re in the booth bullshitting with us-that sort of thing keeps us coming back.”

EASTERN RESORT
“Anytime we can have face to face discussions with a future guest it’s the best. Passion is easy to convey with a when you love the product as much as we do. Plus it’s great to capitalize on the energy of that many skiers and riders being in one place. We also use it for a get up to speed time with our Guest Services staff to develop momentum. I do think they are important, but then again, I love shows, captive passionate audiences are hard to come by.”

WEST

WESTERN RESORT
“We actually go to 8 a year. The last 5 years or so, the ski shows have been our major method of national branding. We don’t do any national print ads, or other media, so it gives us an outlet to spread the word. Ski shows [also] give us an opportunity to presell a good amount of product. And in a few key markets, really give us a chance to talk to skiers/boarders where we know we can pull them… Bay Area for instance. We’ve seen an increase in Bay Area visitors. The flight is cheap, quick and easy. There are a ton of skiers/boarders there. They seem to be somewhat affluent. And they are sick of the Tahoe scene.”

WESTERN RESORT
“Our sales team does still do a few ski shows (2 in fact). Personally I think they are a waste of time in most cases but there is some opportunity in the right markets. Ft Lauderdale is a good example of one of those right markets. Think about it…every single person in South Florida HAS TO book a destination trip to ski/ride. No choice.”

WESTERN RESORT
“We do still go to the bigger regional ski shows for our region. However, for the past 4 years we have always received free booth space as part of a larger partnership agreement with the promoters who puts on the shows, so our only expenses are travel, lodging, meals, staff time and collateral for the shows. So given that we can attend for relatively little money, we still go.”

WESTERN RESORT
“We still attend some of the ski shows in our key markets but have slimmed the total number and generally downsized the booth presence over the past few years. Certain shows seem to still draw a lot of participation “


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