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Season Passes (All)
Would This Make You Buy Your Season Pass Early?

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So you want to drive advanced season pass sales, so what do you do? You lower prices early season. High and outside – ball one. Then, you set a date (usually around labor day) where you’ll raise your prices. Right? Low and inside – ball two. However, not fully committed to that price, you raise them again a month later trying to drive more sales. In the dirt – ball three. Skiers ain’t no dummies, and they’ve seen these tactics used over and over…and over. Of course there are some (many) that are going to swing, that’s part of the game and resorts wouldn’t do this if it didn’t work. I’m not saying there is a perfectly better way, but I think it’s time that a resort throw skiers a curve ball.

Worst Case
As much as I love my hometown ski area, Beaver Mountain, who has taken this pricing model to the extreme. Take a look for yourself.

Either buy your pass in the Spring, or keep a printout of this chart handy lest you miss one of the 7 monthly deadlines before the next season starts.

Best Case
I like Indianhead Mountain’s structure a lot better. Set an early bird discount and date, promote the pants off it, then have a good price for the rest of the season.

Nothing confusing, but a simple, clear deadline to get people to buy early.

Ultimate Case
We talk about deadlines, and I wonder if there might be a way to flip the script. Instead of saying “buy a season pass now and ski CHEAPER”, what if you could say, “buy a season pass now and ski EARLIER.” You read right, and you probably already have a inkling at what I am referring to: make opening day exclusive to people that buy their season passes early.

Now, the whole point is not necessarily to get people to buy season passes early, but also to buy season passes PERIOD. So maybe it would be better to say that opening day is only opening day for season pass holders. Don’t want to tick off the rest of the crowd? Try something like this:

  • Opening day is Friday, Nov 5! Want to ski on Thursday? We’re opening the slopes for 4 hours Thursday afternoon to all of our season passholders for an exclusive preview. Season passes will be sold all afternoon at the base lodge!
  • Opening day is a lot of work, and one of the hardest parts is making sure the snow is just right. That’s why we invite season pass-holders out for a half-day preview of the slopes the afternoon before opening day so they can help us test it out. ┬áIt’s hard work, but somebody has to do it.
  • Opening day is just a couple months away. Want to make it a day earlier than everyone else? Buy your season pass before Oct 15 and get an take a few runs during a Opening-Day-Eve passholders preview!

With all the perks that you cycle through to get skiers to buy their passes, isn’t their goal to ski? If a season pass is the only way to actually ski, could that be the ultimate incentive?

Resorts are throwing all sorts of events this time of year where they’re pushing pass sales like crazy, what if the event involved skiing that same day? It may not be perfect, it may not even work, but it sure would get peoples attention…a lot more than a decade-old deadline would.

(I sometimes feel I do too much critiquing and too little suggesting. Like, somehow, I’m the 400 pound, mullet-sporting guy on his 4th beer at the baseball game yelling at the 3rd baseman to hustle. So, every once in a while on a Wednesday I’ll try to balance the scales a bit and put my own ideas up for display, analysis, and critique. (view all ‘WID’ posts).)

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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