The grassroots Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month enjoyed a breakthrough season, with some 300 resorts in 34 states reporting more than 75,000 beginner lessons served in January 2011. When you factor in the resorts that didn’t report lesson statistics, the total increases to more than 100,000.
As part of theinitiative, the National Ski Areas Association introduced the Conversion Cup Challenge as a way to challenge resorts to see who could not only show the greatest increase in lesson volume, but also show the most improvement in retaining new skiers and snowboarders. NSAA named Snow Time Inc., owners of three ski areas in Pennsylvania, including Liberty Mountain, Ski Roundtop and Whitetail Resort, as the Cup's first winner. Other finalists for the Cup included Park City Mountain Resort, Utah; and Boreal Mountain Resort, Calif.
In all, 17 resorts submitted applications in the first year of the Conversion Cup Challenge. Applicants are judged on a number of key conversion indicators including:
- Increases in Level 1 lesson volume.
- Level 1 lesson volume in relation to total skier and snowboarder visits.
- Quantifiable success of multi-lesson packages.
- Season-to-date sales and repeat sales data on specific ‘learn-to’ packages designed to drive repeat visitation.
- Overall data collection capabilities and sophistication.
- Marketing ingenuity, creativity, use of new media, etc.
So what’s next for the initiative? At an NSAA Convention session titled “Thirty-One Days: Building on the Successes of Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month,” panelists looked ahead on ways to broaden the reach, including more collaboration and PR, earlier release of marketing materials, expanding beyond the endemic market and ultimately tracking conversion. Tom Kelly of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association announced the team is taking an advocacy approach by creating a series of PSAs from athletes, all of whom got started in the sport to have fun, not win Olympic medals. Jon Rucker, national sales and marketing manager for Head USA, noted that Head uses LSSM logos in virtually all its marketing materials and is dedicated to making the message resonate with retailers.
The initiative is also working with the U.S. Forest Service to expand its involvement, with hopes of even higher support from Washington, D.C., and is adding Daron Rahlves, along with Glen Plake and Bode Milller, as program spokespersons.
-- Andy Bigford
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