Ads. I hate ’em, but I love ’em. And while I’m the first person to grab a remote and fast forward through TV ads, when it comes to ski resort marketing, I find it fascinating.
This spring, I was fortunate to be one of three judges for the 2015 National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Marketing Awards.
Entries, in all categories, came from resorts large and small, from across the country. I learned a ton about resorts I’ve never visited and developed strong opinions about what makes an enticing campaign.
Here’s a quick rundown of the winners.
Best Use of Mobile Technology
Copper Mountain Resort, Colorado
Copper won for its Sherpa app, a mobile phone app that provides audible, on-mountain information. Since you get the info via earbuds, there’s no need to remove your gloves or deal with goggles and glare. I found Sherpa creative, useful and completely user-friendly. It’s also interactive; posting users’ comments and tips as they come in.
Has anyone else tried it?
Best Social Media Campaign
Camelback Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania
Using #MyCamelback, this small northeastern resort encouraged guests to submit photos and videos to win weekly prizes. Social engagement increased dramatically, as did interaction with guests. So much so that requests to Camelback’s call center have fallen 35% as more information is shared via social platforms.
If you ski Camelback, please let us know what you think. Did you submit a photo or video this winter?
Best Direct Marketing Program
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, California
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you probably know that the past few winters in California, have, shall we say, been challenging. While public perception was definitely worse than the actual conditions, many California resorts had difficulty attracting skiers and snowboarders.
To address this, and to entice passholders back to the mountains, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows devised a highly personalized email campaign. Emails with season passholders’ stats and photos offered special deals, shared upcoming events and informed recipients of how much value they’d received and how much more value they could realize, if only they’d come ski.
Best Use of Video Marketing
Telluride Ski and Golf Resort, Colorado
Now we get to the fun stuff, the videos. And while lots of resorts are content with sharing ski/ride porn, Telluride decided to focus on the unique people who call their community home, both on and off the resort. The campaign was called Lucky Enough Telluride, and featured the “stories of six individuals who fell in love with Telluride.”
You can find all the #LuckyEnough Telluride videos here. Or just watch this one. It’s my favorite.
As video subject Himay Palmer puts it, “Skiing with your kids is magic. You don’t really know until you have kids of your own.”
Best Old School Marketing
Sunday River Resort, Maine
Old school marketing means things like billboards, magazines and bus wraps. Sunday River, the winner in this category, developed a series of high-tech billboard images to tell and sell their story in the Boston area. These billboards featured of-the-moment images to showcase current conditions and get winter-weary Bostonians out of the city and into the mountains.
Best ‘Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month’ Campaign
Steamboat Ski and Resort, Colorado
Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is an annual promotion to get newcomers involved in winter sports. In addition to working with resorts to provide free and discounted tickets and lessons during January, LSSM also runs the Bring A Friend program, with discounts and prizes for skiers and riders who…bring a friend.
By teaming with Warren Miller Entertainment to promote a First-Time ticket/Bring A Friend package, Steamboat got the LSSM message in front of moviegoers in 80 tour markets. And the response was huge: 33,712 moviegoers registered for Bring a Friend coupons. They also utilized print advertising. One example headlines this post.
Best Overall Marketing Campaign
Mammoth Mountain, California
In their marketing efforts, Mammoth Mountain focused on humor and scored big, using the hashtags #MammothStories and #MammothBeanie. #MammothStories featured Mammoth skiers and riders sharing why they choose Mammoth, along with the very well done Mammoth Mission video. Check it out.
The #MammothBeanie portion of the campaign incorporated Mammoth beanie giveaways, as well as a giant beanie billboard en route to the resort, perfect for tagged photo ops.
The NSAA Marketing Awards are sponsored by Ryan and Associates, a strategic marketing and database technology firm based in Ohio.
In addition to me, the other judges were Andy Hawk, managing director for Warren Miller Entertainment and NASTAR (part of the Active Interest Media Mountain Group), and publisher of Snow Show Daily, and Sarah Plaskitt, founder and CEO of scoutski.com, and former brand strategist for world leading brands.
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