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Retail Store as Crowdfunding Returns as Marketing Arm Aimed at Resort Sustainability

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A couple months ago I wrote about how a crowdfunding campaign by Mt Ashland was, on closer examination, more similar to a resort’s retail e-store than most things you see on Kickstarter.

But that’s an interesting idea, right? Wrap something that’s often overlooked (retail) into a new, popular package (crowdfunding) to both raise funds (make sales) but also tap into the potential that retail represents outside of a resort’s traditional geographic limits.

I wondered if more such campaigns would come along, and, sure enough, another has already arrived.

Timberline Four Season’s “Snowfunding”
High in the mountains of West Virginia, Timberline Four Seasons has started this initiative with a simple site that starts with a superlative and progress tracker…


…continues with more information about the resort…


…and then spells out what the funds would be used for just as we’re used to seeing on Kickstarter-like sites.


For those of you who were at the Assembly, the words “Survivor” or even “Sunset” might come to mind when you take a closer look at where they stand and what they need in terms of capital improvements.

The Products
When you get to the “shopping” page, things start to resemble a traditional ski resort retail e-store.


Especially on the product pages themselves. And, while everything is on sale, the discounts are on par with what you’d expect to “pay” with Crowdfunding, but lack the clear “donation” or “support” vibe you quickly pick up on with more common platforms.


What’s most interesting of all, however, is that when you consider the products in the e-store (one for each product they sell), the copy on the main page (selling the resort as a whole rather than written for/to loyal customers), and the main navigation…


Everything starts to resemble a typical resort website. Indeed, if Mt Ashland wrapped some of their retail products into crowdfunding packaging, it seems Timberline Four Seasons has tried to apply the same concept to their entire resort.

Will it Work?
I’m not too optimistic, unfortunately, and I think the biggest reason isn’t just the slow start (many crowdfunding campaigns take time to get some legs), it’s their use of a custom platform.

Yes, building a crowdfunding platform on your own (or using a template like SkiNation did) comes with the flexibility of building it just the way you want it, but that’s a two-edged sword that also removes the tried-and-true principles, urgency, trusted brand name, community (social proof), and distribution built right into a site like Kickstarter.

It’s an interesting trend and each new iteration will teach us something new. Mt Ashland hit 31% of their goal, will Timberline do better? Will this develop into an effective strategy for Survivor and Sunset resorts? Time will tell.

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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