Summer business is a relatively new focus for many areas, and it continues to grow. Often, what started as ski areas have become year-round resorts, with second home communities now turning into retirement communities. In those few instances where there was already a town at the base of the hill, it has frequently evolved along with the resort—and been overwhelmed by it, perhaps.
The real estate slowdown that began nearly a decade ago has left many resorts and towns strapped for affordable housing and, in winter, there are not enough beds to meet demand. Vacation rentals by homeowners have further pinched the long-term rental and affordable housing markets.
For all that, most resorts have available capacity in summer. To fill it, they can add activities and multi-day events and festivals, and broaden the revenue base for themselves and their wider communities.
But summer guests are a different audience, and summer marketing takes a different approach. It’s more short-term, more impacted by social media, and more cooperative. In such an environment, how do resorts find their place, and how do they establish a consistent brand image that works across the seasons? The Assembly didn’t have all the answers, but it was a good start.
SAM will be working with DestiMetrics and other experts to continue the discussion, exploring and sharing the revenue opportunities at the 2016 Summer Ops Camp, Sept. 6-8 in Park City, Utah.
SKIS FOR THE UPPER CRUST
One of our far-flung and high-living contributors, Moira McCarthy, checked out a new ski line sure to pique interest among highbrow snow sport aficionados. Here’s her report:
There’s a new line of skis called Foil. They’re the creation of artist/skier/craftsman Alessandro Marchi, who does possess unique and special talent. So special that Foil skis range in price from $12,000 to $30,000.
Say what? I spent a day on the skis to find out why. I’ll say this: they sure are pretty. Designed to reflect a time when skiing was glamorous, the skis have the look of wood, highlighted by 14-karat gold plated bindings. (If you’re more subtle, you can opt for silver plating. Both glisten like a spotlight on Tay Swift’s apple cheeks.)
They do ski nicely. I found they loved to hold the snow, even in variable conditions. I felt confident on them. But I felt something else, too. As I skied along and folks took notice, I became kind of addicted. I started to feel, dare I say it? Posh. At the end of the day, I rued having to give them back.
Marchi has sold 22 pairs this year, “mostly to Russians,” he says. Me? I won’t be purchasing until they also do my laundry. Still, gold bindings do set a girl in a jolly mood. Sigh.
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR SENIORS?
Yes, we all know that seniors ski (and in rare instances, ride) more often than most resort guests. But SeniorsSkiing.com, a recent creation of one-time Skiing Magazine editor Mike Maginn and PR pro Jon Weisberg, conducted a survey to dig deeper into the lives of its subscribers and readers.
The survey, conducted in January, found the average visitor is 66, though respondents perceive themselves as being about 20 years younger. For this group, 66 is the new 46. More than 9 in 10 are skiers rather than riders, and about half expect to ski 20 or more days in 2015-16. They don’t limit themselves to skiing, either: about 3 in 10 also snowshoe, and a similar number ski XC.
These active seniors visit an average of six resorts a season. They are also more likely to take lessons than the average customer: 3 in 10 see lessons as a way to adapt to changing health and fitness, or simply as a way to continue to improve. Think about it: these folks are not getting older, they are getting better!
They also belie the usual stereotype about seniors being tight with their money. About one-third expect to purchase new skis, while a quarter expect to purchase boots, gloves, parkas, and pants. And that’s just the tip of the gear iceberg. The vast majority also pack a cell phone and helmet. Nearly half are armed with items to ward off the effects of aging: pain relievers, reading glasses, and hand warmers; some are sporting a brace (17 percent), hearing aid (13 percent), whistle, or inhaler. Because no matter how young you feel, your body knows the real story.
YOUR KNEES DON’T LIKE FAT SKIS
Next time you’re in the lift line on a non-powder day, look down. If you see a pair of narrow, shaped skis, the person wearing them likely has a speed suit on. But according to John Seifert, associate professor of health and human performance at Montana State University, that spandex-clad racer’s knees are in less peril on hard-pack snow than the guy next to you with 110 mm-underfoot powder boards.
Seifert has gathered data from leg sensors that monitor the amount of strain skiers undergo while they ride skis of varying widths. According to Seifert, when skiing hard-packed snow on a ski wider than about 85 mm underfoot, the force needed to turn the skis puts an undue amount of stress on knee and ankle joints. Also, wider turns on wider skis require knees and ankles to flex for a longer period through the turn.
The suggested solution? Have a variety of skis in your quiver for different snow conditions, saving the fatties for powder days. Easy for those with deep pockets, not so much for everyone else.
However, at this year’s SIA Snow Show, a recent trend toward skis with narrower waists continued to gain steam. Most of the new models on display measure 85 mm or less underfoot with many 80 mm or less. What’s next, neon onesies?
NORTHEAST WEATHER SUMMIT ON HOLD
The concept of the ski industry hobnobbing with broadcast meteorologists to form better relationships with folks who influence the travel decisions of skiers and riders seems like a good idea, and was the genesis of the Northeast Weather Summit, set for early April. Despite the organizers’ best efforts in a short period of time, though, the logistics proved insurmountable, and they eventually decided to pull the plug. Perhaps next year? An event of this type in the heavily populated and media-rich Northeast could be a huge win.
MOUNTAINS OF ART
According to the 2012 U.S. census, Vermont ranks third in the nation for artists as a percentage of the workforce, and eighth for both musicians and photographers. Vermont is also populated by 19 ski resorts. Naturally enough, these resorts have become virtual galleries and exhibition halls for Vermont artists. Stratton’s newly renovated base lodge features hand-forged lighting and chandeliers from the nation’s oldest commercial forge, Hubbardton Forge in Castleton, Vt. These illuminate works by ski photographer Hubert Schriebl, which are on display throughout. At Bolton Valley, mountain volunteer and in-house artist Natasha Bogar’s local landscapes “canvas” the resort’s lodge, tavern, and hotel. She offers BYOB Paint Nights at the mountain several times throughout the season. The art of skiing is alive and well in New England.