Seven Springs is doing a lot of things right, but one of my favorite efforts coming from their talented team involved car graphics, a few tanks of gas, and a road trip to visit one of the most underappreciated corners of the ski community.
Gregg: Alex, give us the quick, 30-second version on who you are and how you ended up at Seven Springs.
Alex: I ran an in-house advertising agency for our sister company, The Pittsburgh Pirates. There was an opportunity to grow my skills and re-brand a storied ski resort, so I jumped on it. I am going into my 10th winter. Anecdotally, I live in Pittsburgh and spend over 2 hours a day commuting; I did the math and have been in a car the equivalent of 1.5 years during my time here!
Gregg: I’ve been really impressed by a lot of stuff that Seven Springs has rolled out lately. From the Tom Wallisch world record to your work with the Highland Pass and 3,3,3 campaign. Give us a quick update on the team and how things are going for the mountain?
Alex: Thank you, that is very kind. Tom was such a natural fit as he grew up in the area and spent a lot of time on our mountain. As I have said before, as great as a skier as he is, he is an even better human. As we are starting to draw from further out markets and with the addition of Laurel Mountain to our portfolio, the Highlands Pass and Highlands Package were great opportunities for our guests and passholders to experience 3 distinctly different mountains whenever they chose to. Nothing earth shattering here as many groups have done something similar.
My team here is the best it has ever been in my 10 winters here. My goal every year is to work with them and make each and every one of them have the skills to ultimately take my job. I strongly feel that if I do not prepare them to do so, I have not done my job...So, I guess, since I am still here, that I have some improving to do. ;) In all seriousness, we have a passionate team here, so I merely guide them in the right directions.
Gregg: What I wanted to pick your brain about today was something with a slightly different twist on marketing: your annual shop tour. What’s the backstory on that and how long has it been around?
Alex: We have been going to shops around the area since 2012. 2 pieces of evolution occurred. First, it evolved from trying to improve previously fractured relationships with them by simply visiting the stores and doing lift ticket promotions to what it has become today. It also evolved as we wanted to do more targeted marketing; and customers going to ski shops is ultra targeted!
Willi’s in Pittsburgh actually put welcome signs for us yesterday and bought us cake to welcome us. Our social media manager, Abbey is a freakin rockstar too; she has the ability to create videos on her own that bring everything to life. On air talent makes great social media people!
Gregg: That’s awesome. Talk a bit more about what it means to these shops and why they appreciate it to the point they’d celebrate this time of year?
Alex: These shops work their behinds off to capture as much business as they can in the short winters that we have. I think they appreciate getting recognized by one of the larger resorts in the region; but really it is us who appreciate them. They are the ones in the trenches promoting snowsports in all of the communities that we want to market to.
Gregg: What’s the plan at each one? How much of the value is facetime and how much is the stuff you actually do while you’re there?
Alex: I think it is the face time and the connection. So far this week, we have had people see us on social and met us at stores; I am sure that has some value. I know our social media channels probably have a larger audience than they do, so again, value in us highlighting their store.
Gregg: How many total shops do you hit and how do you choose which ones? How long does it take you to check off all the locations on your list?
Alex: We hit around 75 over 2 weeks. We have a guy in a very dark room in the depths of the resort help us formulate a driving route.
Gregg: I bet. Might have to ping UPS for some help on that. Speaking of team, I’ve seen Abbey on content and “Intern Nick” designing the wrap for the vehicle, who all gets involved?
Alex: Sponsorship opp! The wrap was a collaborative effort. That design probably got Intern Nick a full time job...with us!
Gregg: I love this, I really do. I think the combination of getting out of the office, facetime, and showing love to an often underappreciate part of the ski community is great. Any last words about the effort?
Alex: Honestly, it gives us a chance to meet people outside of the resort on their turf. Skiing and Riding isn’t a sport, it is indeed a community and we want to remind people that it is a very welcoming community. My last advice for everyone is something I preach to the team here especially in today’s world: BE NICE, BE KIND, BE POSITIVE AND BE HELPFUL. You asked for any last words! ;)