May 2023

Peer Reviews 2022-23

Top resort marketers compliment the marketing efforts of other ski areas.

Written by Jeff Carroll, Justin Hansen, Marsha Hovey, Erik Kerr, Bonnie MacPherson, JJ Toland | 0 comment

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I’ve been impressed with Snowbasin’s Go North campaign encouraging Ikon Pass holders to take their passes north from Salt Lake City to the resort this winter. Snowbasin has been a valuable addition to the Ikon Pass this year, especially for those living in Utah. In the Salt Lake City area, the Go North campaign has been very visible via paid social, digital banners, and out-of-home placements. 

With Salt Lake City’s close proximity to the four major resorts in the Wasatch Front—Alta, Deer Valley, Park City, and Snowbird—those are the ski areas that remain top of mind for most Utah or Utah-bound skiers. But the Go North campaign has been a good reminder that Snowbasin is 1) accessible from the city (and airport) via an easy drive north and 2) now included on the Ikon Pass.


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Social media has taken on a life of its own for ski areas. What once was a fun way to share content and upcoming happenings has become the front line of customer service (in addition to being a source for content, promotions, and just about everything else under the sun). 

Powder Ridge in Kimball, Minnesota, is a shining example of how to create genuine connection with your guests by way of social media. Its posts not only showcase family-friendly photos and videos, but are also extremely transparent, providing updates on conditions and other notable info such as announcements about when certain days might be busier than others due to special groups and events. In a time when guests expect a response as soon as they leave a comment or send a message, being able to beat them to the punch and provide those answers before they even ask is the ultimate win.

Covid shifted how guests engage with our marketing and content. If all you do is share neatly packaged sales pitches and corporate-feeling ads on your Facebook and beyond, you’re missing an unbelievably important way to connect with your skiers and riders. Guests don’t just want to see pretty pictures, they want to feel like they are a part of the operation and have been given a peek behind the “Wizard of Oz” curtain. Powder Ridge has done such a great job this season doing just that and more. 


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Most unapologetic. It’s a central tenet of marketing, which is a bit weird considering such a principle is oft overlooked if not blatantly shunned by most resorts. Unless you’re Killington. The folks “down south” (at least from where I currently hang my hat in northern Vermont) have come to proclaim, repurpose, and own a bold moniker born a few decades ago: The Beast.

The Beast branding, as it is currently curated, gives a tip of the hat to its origin story as a destination that’s as wild on as it is off the mountain. But, this current version also offers an invitation to a new generation not yet knowing that a visit to Killington is one of the best things that could happen to them. 

The concept’s execution across all mediums whispers about why one of the most uninviting nouns (Beast) was hung on the place three decades ago: the mountain’s vast and extravagant terrain. Yet, the use of imagery that shouts aspiration as well as welcoming easily cajoles even the greenest of green circles to click “yes, please book a stay/yes, I need a change,” and alter the trajectory of their life. 

What’s more, the moniker is used across the board—even ads for open jobs have ambitious headlines like “LIVE BIG. WORK AT THE BEAST.” Bold words that perfectly round out the enticing images they are paired with make the Beast less like something lurking under your bed than the promise of an aspiration transformed into an actual life lived in the mountains.


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Beaver Mountain happens to be the closest ski area to Cherry Peak, and we’ve watched its social media game mature drastically in the past few years. The social throne the ski area sits on is one built of quirky, fun-loving mom-and-pop vibes. No surprises there since mom and pop Luella and Harold Seeholzer helped found and operate the first lift in 1939, and daughter-in-law Marge (above) still runs the family-owned area—making it the longest continuously family-run ski area in the country. 

One of my favorite reels Beaver has released illustrates the vibe perfectly: A skier is plowing

through mounds of powder, making smooth, pillowy turns. There’s no music, just a voiceover saying, “Yeah, so I called into work today. Called in sick. I’m entitled to two sick days a year. This is a pretty sick day.”

Reels and posts like these bring a lively, small ski area vibe to the Beaver’s social media. You know every time you visit that you’re going to feel like part of a family. Which is the goal. Beaver Queen Bee Marge Seeholzer has two sayings: “up here you’re a little closer to Heaven,” and “when you’re here, you’re family.” That’s what Beaver is all about, and we’re proud to share a valley with these guys.


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As a member of a team that is in the early stages of a website redesign, my attention has been drawn to the online presence of multi-season resorts that appear to be doing a lot of the right things. Sometimes you don’t have to look much further than your own backyard to discover examples of what you’re hoping to achieve. King Pine Ski Area, located up the road a piece in Madison, N.H., demonstrates that you don’t have to be a mega resort with a mega budget to create an aesthetically pleasing website that is organized, compelling, and concise.

 A recent article in SAM titled “Selling Summer” by Karolyn Towle has inspired some enthusiastic conversations among the Gunstock team. One point that hit home for me was, “Today, the digital experience you provide to your audience is nearly as critical as what they’ll encounter in person. It all starts with clear and descriptive messaging and imagery about your offerings, often tailored toward first-time visitors.”

 We often attempt to bombard our guests with everything we want them to know, using an above-the-fold approach. King Pine’s website offers an elegant landing place that allows the visitor to rest a moment and draws them in with a simple, compelling message and image that promotes scrolling and rewards that exploration with relevant content and the ability to learn more and take action when ready.

 In the SAM piece, Origin Outside principal MJ Legault is quoted as saying, “We need to take a step back and put ourselves in the shoes of our guests, give them more guidance, and hold their hand a bit in terms of what to expect …” While that statement was made in specific reference to selling the summer experience, it is sound advice in general, and something King Pine is doing well with its online presence.


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I’ve always personally really enjoyed the brand and voice of Jay Peak, Vt. On the opposite end of the continent from us here in Rossland, British Columbia, you can easily tell the team at Jay Peak make a point to stand out from the pack with their marketing and communications. Whether it be the subtle (and enjoyably weird) illustrations sneakily placed throughout the website, the conversational written voice, or uniquely named events, the creativity and tone are consistently on brand.

And Jay Peak continually makes it clear to its audience that the business is more than just about skiing and riding—it’s about the people that love and make the sport great, the people that work at the mountain, the people in the community, and anyone else that has ever been to Jay. 

Combined, it’s all been refreshing to see what the Jay Peak team has been doing and creating year in and year out.