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My Next "Big Thing" – How I Plan to (Hopefully) Help Small Ski Areas Compete

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Today I want to do two things. First, I want to announce something. Second, once announced, I want to ask for your help in making it happen because, quite honestly, I need it.

But before I tell you what I hope to do, let me first tell you why I’m going to do it.

A Story: My First Eastern Skiing
Last year I had the opportunity to join NASJA for their annual meeting at Killington.

The snow was awesome, the views were awesome, the terrain was expansive. My introduction to East Coast skiing had gone perfectly on all accounts.

But those days at Killington and Pico, no matter how great, paled in comparison to an afternoon of skiing I had en route that, at least on paper, should have been a minor, overlooked footnote in this story.

The Song
I used to live in Syracuse, NY. Not having been back in a half-decade, I flew into Albany a day early to visit friends and, yes, sample some of the skiing.

And sample I did. On Saturday afternoon I pulled up to Song Mountain’s 700′ of vert, grabbed a $30 ticket, skated into the wind across extremely sticky snow toward their only open chairlift…

…and proceeded to have one the most fun days I have ever had in my 20 years of sliding on snow.

As I giddily (and reluctantly) drove away, I said to myself:

“How can ski areas like this be in trouble if it’s possible to have days like that? Why are millions of skiers bemoaning ticket prices when $30 buys me a bigger smile than I’ve ever had at Vail or Snowbird or Heavenly?”

I think it was somewhere between there and the outskirts of Syracuse that I knew I was going to do something about this.

The Strength of Smaller
As those memories have mixed with lessons learned from 5 years of SlopeFillers, I’ve begun to see the strength in the marketing messages behind these hills. Namely:

  • They’re incredibly affordable – often 1/3 the price of large mountains.
  • They’re close – sometimes right in town as I discovered when I visited McIntyre or recently lapped the double chair at Howelson.
  • They have great skiing – quite honestly the BEST skiing I’ve ever had.

But if they have such a strong message, why is there a fear of so many such areas closing?

No matter how big the mountain is we represent, we all know the value of these hills and what could happen if they disappear.

I can’t speak for the financial and operational challenges which I’m glad are being addressed, but there’s one I am sure of: their marketing voices simply aren’t strong enough to be heard. Even in their own communities.

My Plan
So my plan is simple: get skiers to convert their love of small ski areas into action by using their reach to magnify the reach of these ski areas. And, along the way, remind/teach those same skiers how good small skiing can be.

I’m calling my initiative Ski Smaller (#skismaller) and here’s the logo – a mix of old styles and colors with classic “Ski ___” vernacular in a simple brand.


How big will this thing become? I have no idea. Maybe it will remain as simple as a small mailing list, maybe it will be something more, maybe the idea is a deadend and it won’t be a thing at all.

But like I often say, there’s only way to find out.

My Plea
I don’t plan to make any sort of push for a while, so right now I simply need smart marketers like yourself to bounce ideas off of and get priceless feedback on how to use the limited evening and weekend time I’ll have to devote to this project.

If any of this resonates, if you have any interest in helping or just being a sounding board, please either email me directly or just let me know in the comments below.

Huge thanks in advance. Maybe that renaissance is coming after all ;)

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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