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Growing Skiing
This Thanksgiving, Maybe Skiing Should be Grateful for a Number That Hasn’t Changed in a Decade

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Tomorrow I’ll release Round 5 of my Thanksgiving shout out, but there’s something big that’s been on my mind lately. Something we should be thankful for. Something that doesn’t fit that list.

And it starts with an email I got a few weeks ago.

The Question
In not so many words, the question was quite simple and straightforward:

“Skier visits have plateaued over the last 10 years, what can resorts do to grow participation?”

Something I’ve thought a lot about over the last few years.

In my reply I sent links to my thoughts on learn vs try, the business of ski school, and what some of our industry’s brightest minds had to say.

But then I turned the tables and suggested that this person was asking the wrong question. That perhaps, as I’ve started to wonder recently, the solution I’ve been chasing has been here all along.

Think about it this way.

Skiing costs money. So, on that basis, anything that costs money could be perceived as a competitor to skiing, right? We may not see sushi as our competitor, but if someone comes up with a roll that results in people eating out twice as much as they used to, that leaves less money for skiing.

Skiing also takes time. So, on that basis, anything that takes time could be perceived as a competitor to skiing, right? If it takes up more time, it leaves less time for skiing.

The same could be said for other aspects of skiing – gear, fitness, weather, etc. – but let me address just these two.

Question #1
Using that same time frame of a decade, I want you to think of one, nearly ubiquitous thing that people spend money on now that they didn’t spend money on 10-20 years ago. Can you think of something?

How about cell phones. According to the WSJ:

“Families with more than one smartphone are already paying much more than the average—sometimes more than $4,000 a year—easily eclipsing what they pay for cable TV and home Internet.”

For a family with $100,000/yr in income, that’s 4% that didn’t exist before. And remember, the iPhone is only 8 years old and my math above isn’t counting home internet service or the devices we purchase that began to spike about 15 years ago.

Question #2
Now, same idea but different subject: time. Can you think of one, nearly ubiquitous thing that people spend time on now that they didn’t 10+ years ago.

How about social media. According to eMarketer:

“An average of 21 minutes spent per day on Facebook may seem small, but that figure is averaged across the entire adult population, and only 52.8% of US adults—or 129.5 million people—will log in to or access Facebook at least once per month in 2014, according to the latest eMarketer estimates.

Among adult Facebook users, average time spent per day on the network is 39 minutes, accounting for 38.1% of their daily time spent on social networks.”

Of the 168 hours in a week, considering that the average american spends 62 in bed, 47 at work (+5 commuting), and 30 watching TV, the impact of another 10 hours of entertainment time – even if the majority is multi-tasking – is huge.

A New Perspective, New Found Thanks
Normally we define growth as increase, but let’s tweak that slightly. Let’s define growth as better than what we were supposed to be.

When you think about all the stuff people spend money on that they didn’t use to, when you think about all the stuff people spend time on that they didn’t use to, and when you think about all the trends in our society, culture, health, activity level, and economy that should have killed skiing by now?

Well, maybe a plateau is great. Maybe level numbers are awesome. Maybe the numbers we’re seeing are something we truly can be thankful for because maybe, just maybe, if it weren’t for all the awesome work marketers like you are doing we’d be down 20% and desperate to return to where we are now.

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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