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Three Ways I’d Use Groupon for a Ski Resort Promotion

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

Oh, Groupon. You are quite the character. Easily exposed to fraud, you’re infamous as a marketing tool. Loved by some, hated by others, I’ve been on the fence about falling for your shiny, geometrically imbalanced logo. When it comes to resort marketing, I’ve seen your services used in many ways, and for good reason, your size of your database is hard for any marketer to ignore. With your high fees and pushy salesmen, I’d like to suggest three ways that ski resorts could take advantage of your model without being pulled to the dark side.

The Calm After the Storm
I remember years ago hearing about an inviting deal that Crested Butte used to offer: book lodging before Christmas and ski for free. There seems to be this trough of interest that develops soon after opening day. Snowguns blaze through the night for weeks on end, crowds show up en masse to carve their first turns, the novelty of one run with 18″ of man made coverage soon wears off, and the white ribbon at your mountain is forgotten about until conditions improve.

I’d offer a 3-pack of tickets on Groupon that are only available from opening day until Christmas Eve. My hope from this would be to do three things:

  1. Remind people that you are open, even if few people buy, tens of thousands will see an email announcing the fact that, even though their lawns are bare, your lifts are turning
  2. Get people that would normally wait until Christmas to start their season to start a little bit earlier, helping them catch the bug earlier and get a few more days until their belts
  3. Of course, sell tickets and get people on the slopes

So, that’s the first way.

Reach the Road-Trippers
Last year, Whitefish, Montana worked hard to draw the Portland, Oregon market to their mountain. They used a handful of successful tactics, including a cadre of billboards. One things I’d love to see added to the mix is Groupon.

Here’s the twist, I would only sell lift tickets or only sell lodging, but not both. No matter how much they push to have you include a full package, I’d take Bernice’s suggestion (see comments here) and let one be the loss leader to draw revenue from the other. Either sell a ton of cheap tickets to a market that has to stay overnight to use them, or sell a bunch of cheap lodging slope-side where the clear option is to ski.

Nab the Newbies
The last is pretty straightforward: convert non-skiers into skiers. I’d whip up a rental, lift ticket, lesson package, discount it like crazy, offer it on Groupon, and then start moving those skiers down the line (another lesson, a full area lift ticket, a season pass, etc.). Many programs geared toward beginners offer highly-discounted, sometimes free, skiing and lessons. As long as you are going to discount, you might as well take advantage of the reach that Groupon’s model provides.


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