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Snowbird v Alta: One Canyon, Two Distinct Marketing Paths

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For a lot of years I lived in the Salt Lake Valley, the top of the Snowbird Tram easily visible from my front porch. I’d bike the canyon in the summer, ski in the winter, and wish I was there during the time in between. It’s gotta be one of my favorite places on earth. However, it doesn’t take a local who lives in the canyon to see that Snowbird and Alta run two very different resorts, both from an operations and a marketing standpoint. Let me explain:

Here’s how it looks:

  • Summer – choose from Tram rides, mountain biking, rock wall climbing, an alpine slide (might be a mountain coaster soon), zip lines, many condo/hotel options
  • Winter – lots of marketing communications in magazines, billboards, locally, etc.
  • Events – a handful of big, visible events come through each year
  • Terrain Park – a park and halfpipe are built each season


  • Summer – choose between hiking or mountain biking. No summer operations.
  • Winter – very little marketing communcations, almost nothing locally.
  • Events – No major events.
  • Terrain Parks – i’ve seen a small one pop up but it’s not publicized

Snowbird and Alta have differing business models resulting in different operational models and marketing support. Snowbird’s operations are substantially larger when considering the lodging properties the company owns, along with food and retail operations and a year-round conference and meetings business. Alta’s operations are primarily based around the winter season, while lodging on site is independently owned.

Two different resorts, two very different styles of running them, and two very different needs when it comes to marketing.

On the one side you have lots of spending backed by lots of marketing to bring the crowds and pay the bills.
On the other you have little spending that doesn’t require lots of marketing or crowds to pay the bills.

I’ve seen a pattern arise in my interviews and surveys which is this: for every increase in development and spending a resort makes, the marketing needs seem to increase exponentially. I could double the size of my resort but my marketing team would have to quadruple in size, and skills, to support it.

It may not be a matter of which is right or wrong, as much a matter of which style of marketing you prefer. This isn’t a post about the good and bad in resort operations, only a simple analysis of a pattern. Maybe it will help those looking for a move to figure out which style of marketing team they prefer, or, if your resort is gearing up for some big spending, to be ready for the marketing expectations that may be placed on your shoulders.

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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