Just last year, there were 53.6 million snowsport visits across the country, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Those visits occurred at the approximately 470 ski resorts in operation in the United States, which accounted for more than $3 billion in revenue between 2008 and 2013, according to The Statistics Portal.
So if you're part of this industry, it's important to develop and implement a solid marketing strategy using multiple channels of engagement to help your business thrive in any season. Here are 10 impactful marketing strategies for ski and snowboard resorts.
1. Send personalized promotions via email.
Staying in touch with current and prospective customers, whether it's through a newsletter or sending a thank you email after a customer's visit, can help drive more bookings. In fact, nurturing your leads—walking them through the booking process with email marketing or even phone calls—can increase sales by an average of 20 percent, according to a DemandGen Report. And personalizing your emails with a special offer could increase those numbers ever more. Issue special promo codes via email or snail mail to customers in your database around a particular theme, such as a new guest invitation or a holiday special, so that the customer is more inclined to make a reservation. Use an online booking system, such as ZOZI Advance, that allows for easy redemption of promo codes so customers can enjoy a streamlined booking process.
2. Send snow updates via text message.
Retailers are already taking full advantage of text message marketing (SMS marketing) to drive sales. Cellit reviewed more than 1,100 campaigns by national retailers and found that SMS has eight times the response rate of email.
As a ski and snowboard activity operator, you can encourage past and prospective customers to stay in touch by signing up for text alerts from your company. Keep them engaged by sending relevant updates, such as snow conditions, events on the ski grounds, and promo codes or other special offers.
3. Connect with travel bloggers.
Share insider information about some of your most popular trails or details about ski and snowboard experiences you offer throughout the year on a company blog. Sharing this type of content will not only engage some of you site visitors but may also encourage travel bloggers and visitors in the area to blog about your offerings—or try them out and write about them fortheir audience.
Other ways to connect with bloggers: send a company representative to events to network and promote your company, or invite travel bloggers to an event you're hosting or for a complimentary day at your venue.
4. Host seasonal events.
Whether you manage a full-service ski resort or a smaller snowboarding operation, host special events around major holidays to catch the wave of visitors in town over the holiday season. For instance, run Christmas specials and promote these holiday packages and add-ons through your website and marketing materials. Make use of an online booking system that allows you to include add-ons at checkout for packages that might include upgrades and specialty services, such as one-on-one instruction with a ski instructor or a discount on gear you sell at your ski and snowboard store.
5. Take advantage of Facebook.
Maintain an active Facebook presence to share information about your ski rentals, weather conditions, and any special events or activities you're hosting. Facebook can be a valuable communication tool for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts since it serves as the perfect platform for sharing photos and videos about your destination in real-time. You could also make use of a Facebook tab that allows for online bookings.
Ethan Austin, director of marketing at Sugarloaf Ski & Golf Resort, explains how Facebook has been such a valuable part of the company's marketing strategy. In a podcast, Austin explained that the resort's Facebook following is now one of the largest among all New England ski resorts. The company posts captivating content every single day, has a full-time videographer on staff to capture high-quality videos to share, and even has a snow reporter to come in and share current weather conditions with photos and videos of the area.
6. Share video demos and tutorials for beginners.
First-time skiers and snowboarding enthusiasts may appreciate a quick introduction from the pros. Share short videos of what to expect at your venue and an introduction on how to use basic gear and equipment. How-to videos are viral by nature—the latest Google Data reveals searches related to "how to" on YouTube are growing 70 percent year over year, indicative of consumer trends to seek out ways to learn new skills. Post your videos on YouTube and share them on your website, blog posts, and across social media to attract more prospective customers.
7. Stay in touch with a seasonal newsletter.
Email newsletters can be a very effective way to promote your message. The experts at Convince and Convert reveal that people who buy products marketed through email spend 138 percent more than those who did not receive email offers. In addition, 44 percent of email recipients made at least one purchase based on a promotional email. This means that many of your email recipients may be willing to book a reservation just by clicking through an email offer they received.
Send a newsletter to your email list every month informing them about the latest developments at your destination, to share skiing and snowboarding tips from the pros, and to promote any specials and packages you are running at the time.
8. Run "bring a friend" offers to build your customer base.
Increase your customer base by letting your existing customers do some of the marketing for you. Tim Warren of Travel Business Success references a study from Nielsen that reveals 92 percent of consumers trust word-of-mouth marketing the most. He also emphasizes the importance of having "social proof"—a measure of your company's impact on others.
As a ski and snowboard activity operator, you need to generate social proof in the form of word-of-mouth referrals, positive reviews posted online, and any positive content surrounding your business to acquire new customers. Running a "bring a friend" offer by extending a deep discount on a second booking or running a 2-for-1 booking deal for a short period of time can help with this strategy.
9. Get on the social media bandwagon.
Facebook isn't the only platform to engage past and prospective customers. Generate buzz about you company by sharing videos, photos, and updates on Twitter, Instagram, or sharing brief updates on micro-video sites like Periscope. Social media sites can complement your marketing strategy by giving you another outlet to share content about your business. Whether this is in the form of behind-the-scenes footage of your team preparing for a ski event or a step-by-step guide on how to choose the right snowboard, start creating and sharing content to engage fans and followers in new ways. Ski and snowboard activity operators can share images of current snow conditions, beautiful photos or short videos of the landscape, or short video captures of customers enjoying an activity.
10. Become an authority on skiing and snowboarding in the community.
Develop a strong presence in the community by hosting educational workshops about skiing and snowboarding techniques, gear, and other details for area residents that may enjoy these adventure activities as a hobby. Become an authority by positioning your owners or lead tour guides as educators about the sport and the industry, answering questions about the sport on your blog, posting video tutorials, and sharing insights via social media for the audience at large. All of these activities can help to set your company apart from the competition and attract more guests.
From sending snow updates via text message to running exclusive promotions and offers, there are several ways to reach out to your target customer and book more reservations each season. Use these marketing tips and strategies to generate more bookings for your ski and snowboard activities business.