Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month; Can’t We All Do Just One Thing?

Last week or so, SIA President David Ingemie sent out an appeal for support for the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month bring a friend initiative. Check out the web site. Look under “The Challenge.”

While I’d love to say something strategically brilliant about the program and give you some blinding insights into its value, that should be pretty obvious. I’m afraid this is going to turn into a short commercial for the program.

If you take just a few minutes to wander around the Learn to Ski and Snowboard web site, you’ll probably figure out what I figured out- that’s there’s no reason a person planning a trip to a winter resort wouldn’t use this site. It’s full of deals and good information. Looks to me like you can pretty much plan your whole trip here.

I wonder if retailers point their customers to this site while they are in the store. Maybe they don’t like the deals on equipment part. It just seems to me that a retailer who can not only sell stuff but help the customer plan when and where to use it might have leg up. Kind of like scuba diving retailers acting as travel agents for diving trips. Of course, they make money on that.

As you all know, the snow sliding business faces the challenges of dependence on aging baby boomers, stagnating middle class incomes, an economy which, while strengthening, isn’t likely to go back to the way it used to be for a while, global warming, competitive from other leisure time activities, complete transparency (for better or worse) of pricing and costs, and the fact that our activities just don’t seem to be perceived by our potential customers (of which there are a lot) to be as cool as they once were. We aren’t alone. Other industries face some of these same challenges.

Meanwhile, among the good news I see from the winter resort is the extent to which those resorts are managing to sell summer products- hiking, mountain biking, golfing, water slides, zip lines, etc. You have no idea (well, some of you do) what a difference just getting 10 percent of your revenue during the summer makes.

Summer activities relate to winter ones because getting somebody to come to your resort in winter is a chance to convince them to come back during the summer.

There’s no magic bullet. Neither SIA nor any organization is going to “fix” the participation problem. What we’re facing, and have been facing, is a multiyear, and I am comfortable saying multidecade, ongoing issue that we can never resolve, but always work to improve. Wait- maybe I did just say something strategic.

And that’s where programs like the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month come in. It won’t “solve” the problem. But every time this program and others like it get somebody to the hill for the first time, they create a potential customer for life. And every time a resort or a retailer makes sure the newbie has a good time and easy experience, they help do the same.

So look at the web site and think about what you can do for one person that might help get them on the hill.

4 replies
  1. daryl
    daryl says:

    well, while your article contain great insight into skate and other particular points of interest to myself and I am sure others, you and the ski/snow resorts are missing a major obstacle. price. think back to 1985 when you could actually have a day on the slopes for under the price of $30. Now, what is it? $100 plus gas, plus a $25 meal. Get a grip resorts. You have officially lost touch with the middle class.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Daryl,
      I tend to agree with you. But interestingly, when you survey people, costs has not come back as the major issue. Now, I personally don’t believe that, but it’s what the research says. My thinking is that people don’t want to admit they can’t afford it. Like I said, stagnating middle class incomes is a big problem, and it’s because things have gotten so expensive.

      Thanks for the comment,

  2. rich
    rich says:

    Skiing and snowboarding does not have to cost $100. Midweek lift tickets are $20 and $30 at many mid-sized mountains. First-timer packages are $50-$80. Once you learn you can rent skis and boots for the season at your local retailer for $129. With that you get an envelope of discounted junior lift tickets or maybe you should consider a season pass for $400($350 if you buy in July). So for $479 you are all set . Sure you have to add in gas and food. Bring a friend to split the gas and bring some food. You can have a fun winter for a $1,000 or less.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Rich,
      And so, we seem to have a need to make sure that newbies can figure that out. We in the industry know it. But figuring it out for yourself if you are suddenly motivated to go snow sliding takes quite an effort, and what you’ve said is not typically what people have heard. That’s, I think, is the value of The Learn to Ski and Snowboard web site and programs that motivate you to take a friend. It needs to not just be less expensive, but easy to figure out.
      Thanks for the comment,

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