Alternative Education: New Types of Courses Can Increase Bottom Line

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SAM Magazine - Vail, Co., December 30, 2006 - Forget the traditional ski school model. This year more resorts than ever are looking to expand the offerings available through their ski schools, tapping into new customers, some of whom would never consider lessons.

While many North American resorts are already beefing up their pipe and park programs, new school isn't the only classroom in town. Here's a quick look at three Utah resorts which are offering something different this winter.

At Brighton, the ski and snowboard school is offering a three week program for Telemark skiers. Suitable for beginner through advanced telemark skiers, the program costs $145 and includes lift tickets, a light brunch on the first morning of the workshop, a social following the last class, and instruction from the same qualified instructor each week.

Sundance, on the other hand, is focusing on the ladies. The resort's Ladies Day clinics offer women the opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard or simply improve their skills. Each clinic offers four half-day ski or snowboard lessons, with two video sessions and a buffet on the last day. The cost is $220, including lift tickets.

While specialized ladies clinics aren't a new concept (many resorts have tapped into this phenomenon), Sundance goes a bit farther: mothers may enroll their children for a four-day program while Mom is out on the slopes. The price for children is $165 including their lift pass.

And for adventurous skiers and snowboarders - the kind of clients that are the least likely to enroll in traditional "ski school" classes - Solitude has tapped into the expertise of the resort's ski patrol. The patrol takes groups of one to 10 skiers and snowboarders into areas just outside of the Utah ski resort's boundaries for an all-day excursion via the resort's Back Tracks program. Tours include a lift ticket and each guest is provided an avalanche transceiver, backpack, free heel adapters (or snowshoes), climbing skins and snacks. Also included in the day is a lunch from the resort's Creekside Restaurant. The Tours cost $165 per person, and are targeted at strong intermediate skiers and snowboarders who are in good physical condition.

While the verdict is out on the overall success of each of these three programs (we'll let you know at the end of the winter how they turned out), there's no doubt that offering a wide range of products to your guests gives them more incentive to pick the program that's right for them. And the more likely that a given client can find what's right for them, the more likely they are to slap down some cold hard cash to purchase that product. \