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What if I bought a ticket only valid on one lift, but until I paid I wouldn’t know which one?

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Sometimes I get ideas. Weird ideas.

But sometimes they are just weird enough that I have to share them to see what happens when the aforementioned weirdness is released into the wild.

This is one such idea. Here’s how it might go.

Step 1: A Big Wheel by the Ticket Window
This would be one of those wheel-of-fish type things. But instead of fish, each wedge on this wheel would contain the name of a lift at your resort. One wedge would contain an “all lifts” label. Some could contain multiple lifts depending on resort layout.

The wheel is rolled out every weekday.

Step 2: Pay $XX to Spin the Wheel
Then, skiers can pay something like $10 to spin the wheel. They may land on the magic carpet, they may land on the tram, but – and here’s the important part – they would would receive a single-day lift ticket that is only valid on that lift.

Step 3: Spin Up to Three Times
They can buy up to three spins on the wheel. If they get the same lift they can spin again, but no more than three. These would accumulate, not replace, to create a sort of random collection of lifts they could ride that day.

(Maybe) Step 4: Chance to Upgrade if Unlucky
Hopefully with three spins they’d get something worth skiing for the day, but if not you could offer them a chance to put their $30 toward a full day pass or roll that into dining credit if they buy a day pass.

Got it? Let me quickly recap to make sure the key points are clear:

  1. Build a wheel with all your lift names on it.
  2. Skiers pay some rate that balances risk to reward to spin the wheel.
  3. Lift it lands on is the only lift their ticket is good for.
  4. Allow them to buy up to 3 spins for three different lifts.
  5. The wheel is only pulled out on weekdays.
  6. Offer upgrade if they get lame trio.

The genesis of this is wrapped up in five sub-ideas.

First, the only way to participate is to go to the mountain. This is actually a huge part of this. We do so many promotions that still require a decision to travel after getting the deal. In this sense, you’re increasing the reward by lessening the risk but all under the umbrella of getting off their duff and coming to the resort. So, yes, it’s harder to enter. But, yes, you have a near 100% chance of winning if you do so.

Second, is taking a painful process – buying a lift ticket – and making it less painful. It could – gasp – even be fun. More on that later.

Third, if there’s anything Powerball can teach us is that huge numbers of people are totally okay with spending money on really long odds.

Fourth, but there’s little actual risk for either party because, a) they can upgrade if they’re bummed out (in which case you’ve sold a day pass), and b), skiers tend to ski the same 2-3 lifts over and over anyway.

Being restricted to one chair may seem like a raw deal, but they will still have a good time because the experience won’t be too different than a normal day.

Fifth, weekdays are already heavily discounted and still don’t draw a lot of crowds. In other words, there’s not much to lose.

So here’s would could happen with this.

Ideal Scenario
An outgoing personality with a good voice grabs a megaphone and offers folks that are approaching the ticket window a chance to “spin to win.” After all, “what do you have to lose?” Meanwhile, the PR guy has sweet talked a morning news crew (the kind that cover weird, community stuff like this) into being there to capture the scene and interview a few of the people that DO win. The social media gal records the scene and posts it to it all the usual outlets.

Just like that, the seed is planted. People who may be turned off by the perceived (yes, I use that word very intentionally) cost of skiing start to think “Hey, for $10? It’s worth a shot.”

Suddenly, this becomes a daily tradition. The crowd gathers early and the wheel emerges at 8:15 to a soundtrack of Lloyd Christmas’ “so you’re saying there’s a chance” quote. Everyone in line celebrates with the winners which only creates more, great content and PR fodder that fuels the fire. People start driving up just for a crack at it.

In this scenario, very few people are honestly losing (a $10 ticket for one lift is still skiing for $10).

And, even more importantly, people are actually having fun while they buy lift tickets. Let me say that again, if the stars align, skiers could actually enjoy paying to ski at your mountain.

Hurdles + Chance
Yeah, there are hurdles with creating/fencing these tickets and many lift-layouts would require either two-lift wedges on the wheel or other alterations, but I hope can see where my brain was going with this somewhat half-baked idea.

Buying lift tickets sucks. Midweeks are slow.

Maybe if we can make buying lift tickets (more) fun, Monday-Friday sales can be the beneficiary.

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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