Economy, social media and ski resorts advertising

Economy, social media and ski resorts advertising

Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz tells us in this 9 min video how they changed their advertising strategies this last year to adapt to the economy’s demands, consumer changes and the continuously evolving social media marketing environment.

Click Here to See the Video

In summary:

  1. Decide faster. People are making decisions a lot faster than they used to. Instead of booking their vacations 6-8 months in advance they are waiting to book up to a week in advance. Vail Resorts experienced a boost in their lodging occupancy from 50% to 80% in just one week before Christmas. As a result, they decided to change the way they advertise the mountains as well. Good thinking!
  2. Adapt or die. Vail Resorts realized that they need to adapt together with the consumer or face the consequences. People want to receive information faster, make decisions faster, get the deals now. Instead of committing to messages 6-8 months in advance, it’s smarter for a business to wait and see what message they want to put out there next week. It will be more relevant to your guests, more real and more in line with the state of the economy. You don’t want to leave money on the table yet you need the business.
  3. Traditional media is being replaced by social and online marketing. Vail Resorts reduced their print budget by 80%. Wow! They are still planning on spending it just in different places. I hope they do because now is the time to build mind share. Be smart about your marketing, stay aggressive and continue to remind your guests about your brand. The companies that manage to do this wisely will win when the economy improves.
  4. Work together as a team. By getting the message out online and in social media you can constantly change it to report conditions, tackle slow periods, get the word out about a special event you didn’t anticipate having. Get your departments to work together as a team to have one consistent message. Your social media, PR department, web department and marketing department need to work all together to produce one strong and memorable message. Smaller businesses have the advantage of being able to coordinate this faster as they don’t have that many departments to begin with.
  5. The importance of the message. Brand advertising is being replaced by a shorter term, more sales oriented message. People are interested in deals and having a more retail approach is key in this economy. Incorporate your brand with the message and always have a call to action in it.

How is your business changing to the economy and the recent marketing developments? Are you adapting or getting ready to close the doors? If you were the Vail Resorts CEO what would you do?

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About Milena Regos

Marketer, Consultant and Creator of the Simple Marketing Blueprint online marketing course for busy professionals.

Comments 8

  1. Eric Hoffman

      |   reply

    Really nice summary of the Rob Katz video Milena! It will be interesting to see how his vision of new marketing plays out over the course of the rest of this season.

    As a person that has been involved in interactive marketing for many years, it’s refreshing to see major companies such as Vail Resorts, embracing new media as opposed to timidly ‘testing’ it out. Something that I think Rob misses the mark on a bit, in my opinion, is that companies shouldn’t completely abandon the things that got them to where they are and jump headlong into social media. It needs to be a strategic and steady move or a company can risk losing brand equity when it drops placements that might still really be of value.

    Otherwise, I really like where Rob is leading Vail Resorts and I’m really happy to be part of a company that I think is, and has been for some time, making large strides in this direction as well.

    • Milena Regos

        |   reply

      Hi Eric,
      thank you for your comment. I would agree that a business can’t completely depend on social media to maintain the brand. Traditional marketing still works if done right. His point about having to create an ad 6-8 months in advance is well taken. it’s hard to come up with the right message for the right audience so many months in advance. I’m glad they are testing the waters with social media. I hope they truly invest in social media and do it right and not try to use old traditional marketing methods in it. I think Park City does a great job with social media. Keep up the good work!

  2. John Sullivan

      |   reply

    Just found your blog through searching on Google. Have found some interesting posts on subjects I am interested in and have bookmarked you site to check back soon.

  3. Lance Nelson

      |   reply

    Hi Milena,

    Firstly, thank you for a fabulous blog — its really got me thinking of some fresh ideas.

    I totally agree — we live in a world of offers, and the ski industry should be enticing skiiers with offers for lift pass etc.

    I would add that a consistent offer is one idea worth eploring that will set your resort above the rest. For example if you are a family resort test a huge offer. For example like you might sell pizza! 2 (lift passes, parent + child) for price of 1 adult or 3 for for price of 2 … or something along this line.

    If it’s about stealing another resort’s business, then I see this the way forward for some. For others of course it may be about being reassuringly epensive and the marketing of eclusivity. If so focus social media marketing on the celebrity culture.. highlight the famous person who turns up to your resort!

    Social media has a huge role to play in getting this message out.

    Thanks again,


    • Milena Regos

        |   reply

      Hi Lance,
      Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate your feedback. I would caution you on basing your marketing strategy on price alone as this move tends to open the door for discount wars where no ski resort involved in it benefits in the long run. I’ve seen it happen in Lake Tahoe – pricing wars tend to just hurt overall business. Well thought of deals of course can boost slow periods and carry out the ski resort during tough times. I think you are on the right track with discovering the true assets for the resort and positioning yourself with your unique offerings. I can tell you that Bansko will always have a special place in my heart. I remember racing on the slopes there as a kid and spending winters there with my ski team. It’s a beautiful mountain and region. The mountain itself is in a unique geographic location which has so much to offer – history, churches, hot springs, lodging, outstanding food. I would say it’s the best Bulgaria has to offer for skiing. You have all the attributes for a very successful marketing campaign. I wish you good luck with it! Stay in touch! Best Regards, Milena

  4. Michael Landau

      |   reply

    Hi Milena: I just watched the video and read your comments. The map has totally changed in the last couple years. That Vail has gone all in is promising. I have had VR as a client for this ski season, they have placed some print ads, but 90% has been digital, these buys have all have lead generating products. That being said, the social media use augments the digital ads that they have, trying to engage, and enlarge their audience. The plan is pretty good. What Rob is saying, here is where we are, Vail Resorts, we do want partners, but partners need to be on the same page.

    Now the real question, where are the new clients, what are they willing to pay? Vail is on the a good course to enlarge their audience. Also not many ski resort owners have the money to put into social media, mainly the staffing. I see opportunity for resorts, and time is now to get full engaged. Milena and Eric are doing fabulous in engaging, we need more like you guys!!

    Thanks again for a fabulous post Milena!

    Michael Landau

    • Milena Regos

        |   reply

      Thank you for your feedback! It will be interesting to watch how social media changes the marketing landscape in the years to come. Thank you for your comment!

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