If only I was the manager of a ski area

joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
edited April 24 in NELSAP Forum Posts: 1,622
There is a reason that there are three times as many NELSAP areas in New England than there are operating areas.  Beyond the bump called Gateway Hills in Nashua, I think the last new public ski area in New England was Bretton Woods in 1973 and there is good reason for that.

Let's for a moment make one assumption:  I don't have infinite dollars to spend

What ONE THING you would you do to increase skier/rider visits without breaking the bank?

Me: I would start buying up (or resurrecting) small areas near major metropolitan areas and operate them as feeder hills using older/used lifts - and make the base lodge an advertisement for the mother area.

Your thoughts?

Comments

  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 166
    Its an idea ragged tried with blue hills. One tough thing is the used lift market is very slim these days.
  • obienickobienick expert
    edited April 24 Posts: 806
    Invest what little capital into as efficient snowmaking system as possible.  There's no denying it's one of the largest (if not the largest) costs of ski areas.  

    Buy up used stuff like what Plattekill has done. It's far better to buy a used 5-10 year old HKD than to keep pouring money down the drain with older and less efficient A/W guns. And yet, I still see ski areas drag out A/W guns for primary snowmaking.  Before VT's Great Snowgun Roundup, it was even worse. 

    If the listings on places like resortboneyard.com are true, you can cheaply buy up 2nd hand but still good equipment. 
  • DrJeffDrJeff advanced
    Posts: 264
    Focus on having a couple of decent terrain parks, and getting an adult evening race league going. Target local schools for after school ski programs - I would call it the "Wachusett model"

    Those can be done on smaller hills, near population centers, where night skiing can provide the interest to attract customers.

    I wonder if it's even reasonable in this day and age to have a true "day time destination" resort feasibly developed anywhere in New England?
  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 166
    Brodoe
  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 166
    Edit Brodie.
  • lotsoskiinglotsoskiing expert
    Posts: 599
    Follow the Oak Mt. model: 
    -Keep operation lean: don't try to operate 7 days a week. Weekends and holidays
    -mountain layout that makes only 2 lifts necessary to open the whole place
    -Kids program at reasonable price
    -tubing- pays the freight and works for all income levels. Gets parents to hill (read: sells Bud Light)
    -have events happening all the time, no matter how small, 8-10 months out of the year Keeps a 'buzz' going about the place
    -weddings in the summer. Big money maker.
    -snowmobile hill climb competitions before and/or after lifts spin for the season. See Bud Light comment above.

    Obviously this would change the closer you are to major population center- night skiing, more days open per week, etc.
  • bmwskierbmwskier advanced
    Posts: 256
    What Jay did in the 80's--- forty bucks Canadian got you a bus ride from Montreal and a day lift ticket. Do the same for other areas-- For example-- 250 bucks gets you a bus ride from Boston to ________ two days of lift tickets, rentals and a hotel room. 
    "Making ski films is being irresponsible with other people's money, in a responsible sort of way..." 
    Greg Stump
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,622
    Summary #1:
    Note the open posting says "ONE THING".  I've only included in the summary inputs that included 'ONE THING".

    1. Buying up (or resurrecting) small areas near major metropolitan areas and operate them as feeder hills using older/used lifts - and make the base lodge an advertisement for the mother area.
    2. Invest what little capital into as efficient snowmaking system as possible. 
    3. Arrange inexpensive 2-day bus trips from major cities

    To DrJeff:  Can you name an area close to a major city that does not already operate on the "Wachusett model" that you described.  Certainly, we see it at Blue Hills, Nashoba Valley, Crotched Mtn., Pat's Peak and even Gunstock.

    I'm wondering about arcade games in base lodges where prizes can be redeemed for discounted food, lift tickets, etc.  Has anyone in the industry tried that?

    Note on item 2 above: I included it, but while it might reduce costs, I don't see it "increasing skier/rider visits".

    More comments or suggestions?
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    edited April 25 Posts: 746
    How about just plain advertising on TV? 30-second spots showing some powder bashing, mountain views, families having fun, people socializing on the sun deck or in a lodge. Make skiing cool again. I'll leave it to the experts (assume we have some here) what stations and hours and how much it would cost.
  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 981
    mapnut said:

    How about just plain advertising on TV? 30-second spots showing some powder bashing, mountain views, families having fun, people socializing on the sun deck or in a lodge. Make skiing cool again. I'll leave it to the experts (assume we have some here) what stations and hours and how much it would cost.

    +1

     I used to do this when I was in the public relations biz, but never had a ski area client (I did sub contract work for VV/GG pre-Intrawest but never involved in TV).  Spot market buys make it affordable.  Not talking about spot cable, but that can be good too if the price is right.

    Also wrote and produced commercials for a number of different clients, can be done quite reasonably.

    Used to do the NY metro buy for a summer time tourist attraction, they were all over the airwaves for what would be $150,000/yr in todays dollars.  It was all fringe stuff, quiz shows, cartoons, local news,  whatever the equivalent of Dr Phil was at the time.  NY area it was channel 5, 9, and 11 plus some spots on the local CBS/NBC/ABC affiliates.  When they had unsold time they would shove in whatever spot was handy or something, so we always got bonus air.

    We used the same commercial for years, then modified it slightly and used it for a few more years.

    Also did cable buys, those were cheap -- I imagine they still are, especially with the way tv is so fragmented these days.  Your local car dealerships frequently use these to build image, often you'll see a mix of canned spots from the flagship brand plus homely looking locally produced spots. 

    If you don't have $150,000 in the budget I would make lift tickets free for all girls for the month of January.  No age limit, no restrictions on the number of visits.


  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,622

    mapnut said:

    How about just plain advertising on TV? 30-second spots showing some powder bashing, mountain views, families having fun, people socializing on the sun deck or in a lodge. Make skiing cool again. I'll leave it to the experts (assume we have some here) what stations and hours and how much it would cost.

    +1

     I used to do this when I was in the public relations biz, but never had a ski area client (I did sub contract work for VV/GG pre-Intrawest but never involved in TV).  Spot market buys make it affordable.  Not talking about spot cable, but that can be good too if the price is right.

    Also wrote and produced commercials for a number of different clients, can be done quite reasonably.

    Used to do the NY metro buy for a summer time tourist attraction, they were all over the airwaves for what would be $150,000/yr in todays dollars.  It was all fringe stuff, quiz shows, cartoons, local news,  whatever the equivalent of Dr Phil was at the time.  NY area it was channel 5, 9, and 11 plus some spots on the local CBS/NBC/ABC affiliates.  When they had unsold time they would shove in whatever spot was handy or something, so we always got bonus air.

    We used the same commercial for years, then modified it slightly and used it for a few more years.

    Also did cable buys, those were cheap -- I imagine they still are, especially with the way tv is so fragmented these days.  Your local car dealerships frequently use these to build image, often you'll see a mix of canned spots from the flagship brand plus homely looking locally produced spots. 

    If you don't have $150,000 in the budget I would make lift tickets free for all girls for the month of January.  No age limit, no restrictions on the number of visits.


    I've seen numbers on this: It's a financial loser.  Your 30 second spots are being charged based on the size of the audience and the skiing community is a tiny fraction of that.
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    Posts: 746
    My idea was to catch the attention of non-skiers or rare skiers.
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    edited April 26 Posts: 1,622
    mapnut said:My idea was to catch the attention of non-skiers or rare skiers.

    -----

    I'm not sure they are reachable.  In speaking to non-skiers, especially those over 50 who
    can really afford it, they are afraid - and part of that is a direct outcome of the ski industry and the skiing publications showing mostly photos of skiers in dangerous situations:
    1. People going fast (racing situations) and there are few serious racers who haven't damaged themselves.
    2. People jumping off cliffs
    3. News coverage of backcountry skiers getting caught in avalanches
    4. Park activities featuring mostly the larger extreme features.

    The key to getting a dog to chase the rabbit at a dog racing track is to make the dog believe he can catch the rabbit.  The key to drawing new older people into the sport is do some of the following (similar to what mapnut suggested earlier, but at the magazine/news coverage level rather than paid advertising): 
    1. Photos/advertising emphasizing recreational skiers just having fun
    2. Photos or video of families hanging out together
    3. Before and after photos of a first time beginner at the beginning of a one-hour lesson and after 1-lesson, after 2-lessons and after 3-lessons to demonstrate how fast one can become an intermediate.
    4. etc.
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    edited April 26 Posts: 746

    I strongly agree, Joshua. Are people going to try skiing if their reaction to a ski video is "That's insane!"?

    It seems to me that when I was a kid there was a lot more of social and family fun images in ski publicity.

    https://www.cardcow.com/421163/view-skiers-mount-snow/

  • jgrecojgreco intermediate
    Posts: 32
    A microchip planted into peoples' brains that gives them the memories of already having skied 10 days in great conditions, thus catapulting them into the addiction. 


  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    edited April 26 Posts: 981

    mapnut said:

    How about just plain advertising on TV? 30-second spots showing some powder bashing, mountain views, families having fun, people socializing on the sun deck or in a lodge. Make skiing cool again. I'll leave it to the experts (assume we have some here) what stations and hours and how much it would cost.

    +1

     I used to do this when I was in the public relations biz, but never had a ski area client (I did sub contract work for VV/GG pre-Intrawest but never involved in TV).  Spot market buys make it affordable.  Not talking about spot cable, but that can be good too if the price is right.

    Also wrote and produced commercials for a number of different clients, can be done quite reasonably.

    Used to do the NY metro buy for a summer time tourist attraction, they were all over the airwaves for what would be $150,000/yr in todays dollars.  It was all fringe stuff, quiz shows, cartoons, local news,  whatever the equivalent of Dr Phil was at the time.  NY area it was channel 5, 9, and 11 plus some spots on the local CBS/NBC/ABC affiliates.  When they had unsold time they would shove in whatever spot was handy or something, so we always got bonus air.

    We used the same commercial for years, then modified it slightly and used it for a few more years.

    Also did cable buys, those were cheap -- I imagine they still are, especially with the way tv is so fragmented these days.  Your local car dealerships frequently use these to build image, often you'll see a mix of canned spots from the flagship brand plus homely looking locally produced spots. 

    If you don't have $150,000 in the budget I would make lift tickets free for all girls for the month of January.  No age limit, no restrictions on the number of visits.


    I've seen numbers on this: It's a financial loser.  Your 30 second spots are being charged based on the size of the audience and the skiing community is a tiny fraction of that.
    With all due respect, you don't know what you don't know.

    I'm not talking about the Super Bowl or Dancing with the Stars, or any network deals for that matter.  Spot market, at the end of the day, there are no rules.  Nor when you buy from brokers, nor when you get in the barter market, or the weather guy who traded his service for a bunch of mid-morning inventory and has bills to pay... I could go on and on.  

  • ski_itski_it expert
    Posts: 1,559
    More ads with scantily clad people either in the hot tub, pool, sauna, massage table or spring skiing. The European resorts seem to specialize in this.
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,622

    mapnut said:

    How about just plain advertising on TV? 30-second spots showing some powder bashing, mountain views, families having fun, people socializing on the sun deck or in a lodge. Make skiing cool again. I'll leave it to the experts (assume we have some here) what stations and hours and how much it would cost.

    +1

     I used to do this when I was in the public relations biz, but never had a ski area client (I did sub contract work for VV/GG pre-Intrawest but never involved in TV).  Spot market buys make it affordable.  Not talking about spot cable, but that can be good too if the price is right.

    Also wrote and produced commercials for a number of different clients, can be done quite reasonably.

    Used to do the NY metro buy for a summer time tourist attraction, they were all over the airwaves for what would be $150,000/yr in todays dollars.  It was all fringe stuff, quiz shows, cartoons, local news,  whatever the equivalent of Dr Phil was at the time.  NY area it was channel 5, 9, and 11 plus some spots on the local CBS/NBC/ABC affiliates.  When they had unsold time they would shove in whatever spot was handy or something, so we always got bonus air.

    We used the same commercial for years, then modified it slightly and used it for a few more years.

    Also did cable buys, those were cheap -- I imagine they still are, especially with the way tv is so fragmented these days.  Your local car dealerships frequently use these to build image, often you'll see a mix of canned spots from the flagship brand plus homely looking locally produced spots. 

    If you don't have $150,000 in the budget I would make lift tickets free for all girls for the month of January.  No age limit, no restrictions on the number of visits.


    I've seen numbers on this: It's a financial loser.  Your 30 second spots are being charged based on the size of the audience and the skiing community is a tiny fraction of that.
    With all due respect, you don't know what you don't know.

    I'm not talking about the Super Bowl or Dancing with the Stars, or any network deals for that matter.  Spot market, at the end of the day, there are no rules.  Nor when you buy from brokers, nor when you get in the barter market, or the weather guy who traded his service for a bunch of mid-morning inventory and has bills to pay... I could go on and on.  

    You're most likely correct.  But I can say in the 10s of thousands of people I've spoken to, riding lifts, teaching classes, etc., over many decades, I've never spoken to anyone who came to area X (where "X" is where ever I'm skiing or teaching that day) who said, "Oh yeah, I came here because of a TV or radio ad."

    Major reasons I have heard:
    - My friends told me it was good
    - A group from my town or school was going there
    - I heard about a promotion related to:
    a. A charity event
    b. A discount
    c. A press release
    d. Snow conditions report (newspaper or internet)
    - It's close to home
    - etc.
  • NJSkiNJSki advanced
    Posts: 261

    I always feel that "Buy one, get one" events appeal to the mass market.

    If a day skiing seems expensive, what better than splitting the cost in half with a buddy. Makes it more affordable for a family, and introduces someone to a ski area that they might have never tried.

    Also, running promotions where you show a pass from another mountain and it gets you a discount.  

  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 981

    I've never spoken to anyone who came to area X (where "X" is where ever I'm skiing or teaching that day) who said, "Oh yeah, I came here because of a TV or radio ad."

    They also never say that when they're consuming Coke or Kaopectate or even the ice skating show. It does work. If more ski areas were cagier with their ad budgets they might get more bodies. The hotel brochure racks ain't cuttin' it. (I used to buy those also -- not so good)

    Again, if you don't have the money for advertising, let girls ski for free. Boys will come to the resort, guaranteed. You ain't gonna find any numbers to argue with that one!
    ;)
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,622

    I've never spoken to anyone who came to area X (where "X" is where ever I'm skiing or teaching that day) who said, "Oh yeah, I came here because of a TV or radio ad."

    They also never say that when they're consuming Coke or Kaopectate or even the ice skating show. It does work. If more ski areas were cagier with their ad budgets they might get more bodies. The hotel brochure racks ain't cuttin' it. (I used to buy those also -- not so good)

    Again, if you don't have the money for advertising, let girls ski for free. Boys will come to the resort, guaranteed. You ain't gonna find any numbers to argue with that one!
    ;)
    I suspect that if I asked them as a part of casual conversation do you drink Coca Cola, they probably would answer honestly.  Typical chairlift conversation for someone who is a newbie to my home mountain, 
    "Are you a regular here?"
    "No. First time here."
    "What brought you here?"
    "I heard from friends ..."
    or
    "My (a. kids, b. friends c...) ski here."
    or
    "I saw it on the ski report."
    or
    ...

    Not, I saw it on a billboard or I heard/saw a radio/TV/newspaper ad.

    I don't deny that ads and targeted advertising works.  What I am less sure of is if the net additional ticket sales due to the ads exceeds the cost of the ads. 

    And as for the "let girls ski free" comment: intriguing.  Would that fly in our post-sexist world?
  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    edited April 26 Posts: 981
    Related image
    odds are yes.  hormones don't care about political correctness
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    edited April 26 Posts: 1,622

    ...

    odds are yes.  hormones don't care about political correctness



    Anyone tried it? I know along the BOGO route, there have been men's days, woman's days, couples days, etc.

  • Posts: 1,835

    ...

    odds are yes.  hormones don't care about political correctness



    Anyone tried it? I know along the BOGO route, there have been men's days, woman's days, couples days, etc.


    I want to say that Bohemia did something like that at one point.
    - Sam
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 1,241
    Yea Sam you beat me
    Bohemia says women free per Ricks skierney/ skibum

    http://www.skibum.net/midwest/michigan-ski-areas/
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,622
    Hmm.

    From their website:

    Mount Bohemia, Houghton (Upper Peninsula) • 200 skiable acres on 900′ vertical
    Specs: 2 Lifts: 1 triple, 1 double. Uphill capacity: 2,500 est. Terrain Mix: 0-7-93. Longest Run: 5300′. Season: usually mid-December to late March. Night skiing Saturdays until 8:00. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 270″.
    The SKInny: This is the best skier’s ski area in Michigan, and none of the other ski areas want to emulate it. No lodge. No lessons. No lift ticket required for women. No novice trails. No snowmaking. No child care services. Little or no grooming. Are you getting the picture? Ever want to ski down a frozen waterfall? Two places you can do it: Mad River Glen, and Mount Bohemia. ...

    It looks like a pretty low overhead kind of place.  I wonder if their No lift ticket required for women has been profitable.
  • Posts: 1,835

    Hmm.


    From their website:

    Mount Bohemia, Houghton (Upper Peninsula) • 200 skiable acres on 900′ vertical
    Specs: 2 Lifts: 1 triple, 1 double. Uphill capacity: 2,500 est. Terrain Mix: 0-7-93. Longest Run: 5300′. Season: usually mid-December to late March. Night skiing Saturdays until 8:00. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 270″.
    The SKInny: This is the best skier’s ski area in Michigan, and none of the other ski areas want to emulate it. No lodge. No lessons. No lift ticket required for women. No novice trails. No snowmaking. No child care services. Little or no grooming. Are you getting the picture? Ever want to ski down a frozen waterfall? Two places you can do it: Mad River Glen, and Mount Bohemia. ...

    It looks like a pretty low overhead kind of place.  I wonder if their No lift ticket required for women has been profitable.

    It must not have been very profitable because they no longer do it: http://www.mtbohemia.com/tickets-passes/
    - Sam
  • ski_itski_it expert
    Posts: 1,559
    The problem with that one was NO CHILD care!
    The problem with the BOGOs around here is that most if not all are mid week and probably non holiday. I've got a pile of vouchers left over to burn :(
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • NELSBEERNELSBEER advanced
    Posts: 201
    Once I confirmed I had won the lottery, the only condition that would allow me to buy a ski area. I would hire the best possible General/Mountain Manger available. Someone familiar with the mechanics of running an area, the political aspects, human resources and the local industry.

    I think we have all seen how hard it is to re-open, much less build from scratch a new ski area. You have to give all the parts the right minimum of attention to get open, know when to get outside help (lawyers, contractors, lift installers, web people...) and keep it all balanced while presenting a controlled persona to staff and public...    
  • ski_itski_it expert
    edited April 28 Posts: 1,559

    I believe Stenger is available ..

    Edit: Oops maybe he isn't. Supposedly working on Burke's new t-bar project 


    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
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