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What would YOU do if a forest fire closed your resort?

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If you’re on the email list, you would have received an email from me that went something like this:

“A few hours ago I got an email from Stacey Glaser, the Marketing Director for Mountain Capital Partners (Purgatory, Sipapu, etc. including my home mountain of Nordic Valley). Her question was simple, “Two of our ski areas are closed due to forest closures and fires. Can I pick your brain a bit on things you’ve seen at other ski areas that have been helpful/successful during times like these?”

My response was two-fold: first, the people who would know best are the people I write about (not me). Second, can I poll them for their advice and see if the community will come to her aide with some experience-based advice? Her reply, very much to her credit, was, “A wise person seeks counsel from many advisors. I’ll take all the input I can get.”

I asked for your feedback late on a Monday afternoon – barely more than 12 hours ago at the time of this writing and most of those being nighttime hours – and yet many of you have already stepped up. The responses came in three groups:

  • Yeah, I’ve been through that, here’s some advice (it’s okay to share on the blog).
  • Yeah, I’ve been through that, here’s some advice (but just forward to them).
  • I know someone who has been through that, here’s their name/email.
  • Man, I don’t have any brilliant advice, but sending good vibes their way.

Those last two groups surprised me. I figured a few people would have some ideas to share (because that’s what I asked for), but people just sending names and love their direction (which I didn’t ask for) was pretty cool and a fun reminder why I love this industry as much as I do.

What They’d Do
Here’s the advice that was shared:

“My first reaction is to take it straight up. It is mandatory so I would use all communication channels to acknowledge the situation (Be up front). Then continue regular updates and become a vehicle to inform your key stakeholders and potential guests. Become their source for info. Key stakeholders will appreciate it. Don’t sugar coat it, deal with facts.”
Chip Carey

“My primary suggestion – Take the lead in coordinating all of the information from the various agencies and communicating it via the marketing channels/resources available. Next, provide resources to help fight the fire and support the evacuees. And recognize info is IMPORTANT to keep the rumors/gossip from spreading faster than the fire.”
Anonymous Resort CFO

“Think of it this way; as a marketer you’re really good and writing messages and sending them to the right people, so perhaps volunteering in that capacity to help keep different groups on the same page would be worth a discussion. And then be patient. There are more important things than making a few bucks right now.”
Anonymous Marketing Director

“Look for options to take them off site for adventures the safe part of the region offer. Bus them to/from safe location. Have great/personable tour guides to make the experience memorable. Support this with fast media buy, incl local billboards, targeted mobile media with “special offers” and only target tablets b/c chance of conversion is much higher. Add regional radio with new copy for support and reach. Run radio only on customer “decision days, i.e., the day they make decisions as to what they will do on the weekend, which means concentrate on Tues/Wed/Thurs and run min of 5 spots a day, but run back to back :30 spots that dovetail but have a distinct message of their own, such as a focus on a specific activity. Maybe even put on a small concert to pull people in to a specific area of the region to create a captive audience.”
Doc Tulin

If anything else comes through I’ll add it below or, if you’ve got thoughts of your own, either email them to me and I’ll forward to Stacey or leave them as a comment below.

My Two Cents
First, I had retweeted this a few days ago but I think it’s a great move in this situation.

I echo a few sentiments above, specifically the fact that you really can’t do a whole lot but you have talents and resources that could come in handy whether that’s empty rooms or a email marketing system or a relationship with the press. Patience, also, seems to be a key from my limited experience with admittedly smaller-scale issues.

More than anything, though, we’re all pulling for the containment of the fire and the hope that all will be safe until then. Best of luck, Stacey and everyone else in the fire’s path.

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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