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Five solid group sales lessons from twenty minutes with a Florida ski tour/shop operator.

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They call it the Ski Club of Sarasota.

Or, translated into marketing speak, lots of wealthy skiers who love to travel long distances and spend money at mountain resorts.

But the couple behind this club (and a local ski shop) were the latest guests on Alex Kaufman’s Wintry Mix podcast.

They shoot the breeze, talk shop, have some fun, but along the way Barbara and Hank Rhawn share a few really interesting tidbits that, if you were doing something else while you were listening (like I was the first time), you may miss.

1) Elevation Can Determine Resort Selection
The downside to the brand Colorado has built for themselves? Altitude. Or, as Barbara said it.

“We kind of enjoy going to places with lower altitude because some of our people are effected by changing altitude.”

We know that elevation is hard for sea-level dwellers, but it’s fascinating that it could lead someone to choose one resort over another.

Worth leading with in your marketing to these regions? You never know.

2) No Ski Wall Because Nobody Owns Skis
We’re all seeing this in various ways, but this ski shop hardly even sells skis anymore because so few people own them. Hank put it this way.

“With the airlines changing the tactics they use to make a lot of money and charging for baggage, very few of our customers have their own skis anymore. It’s cost prohibitive lugging them out there, so most of them rent.”

Skis aside, there is something they still buy locally and don’t rent as often.

“We do sell boots because people have had problems with rentals and want to have their own boot.”

Rent skis, buy boots. Simple, but insightful look into Floridians behavior.

3) They Aren’t All Looking for Freebies
On planning their club trips, here’s what Barbara said.

“Our club doesn’t ask the resort for anything but lodging and lift ticket rates. So they’re very fond of us because we’re not bugging them for advertising or complimentary things for our members or swag to give away. So the resorts are very good at offering us things and we have a very good history with the resorts.”

So, yes, some abuse their buying power but others, like the Rhawn’s, don’t. But, that comes with a caveat.

4) Resort Turnover is a Big Issue
Earlier in the episode the fact had been revealed that Snowmass was there favorite destination. On the heels of this last quote, Barbara explained why.

“It’s very difficult sometimes because ski resort reps change a lot, and that’s one of the reasons we have continued to find Snowmass to appealing because our reps there have been the same for a good number of years.”

Want to attract clubs that prioritize service over freebies? Keep your staff from turning over.

5) A Great Resort is Not Enough
Hank said it this way.

“We have places we like and we like the places where, obviously, they’re great resorts and the people there have been really good to work with and take care of us and that’s what we feel…there are so many great resorts all over the united states, and Canada and Europe, that’s easy to take care of, it’s the people that you’re dealing with, the continuity of the people you deal with that really separates them.”

And what constitutes being well taken care of? In this case, continuity in the process trumps freebies for their members. Price is a concern, deals are great, elevation is an issue, but more than anything they seem to just want things to go smoothly.

BONUS) All Alex Had to Do Was Ask
That’s a twenty minute conversation (maybe an hour in real-time) with a single, random ski shop in Florida. And from that simple conversation came some really simple, yet solid, insights into ski shops and skier behavior outside of ski country.

All Alex had to do was ask for some time and ask some questions. That’s may be the most valuable lesson of all.

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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