Is going directly against your competitors a good strategy? Heavenly Mountain Resort thinks so.

Is going directly against your competitors a good strategy? Heavenly Mountain Resort thinks so.

No, Vail Resorts you didn’t just do this #marketing #fail

Ahhh, it’s not often I jump on something so fast to write a blog post. But this Heavenly Resort infographic posted on their Facebook page was just what I need this Sunday to make me put everything else on hold.

Infographic Heavenly

As seen on Heavenly Resort Facebook page

Good marketing is about creating memories, emotions and stories about your brand. Great marketing is about being remarkable and providing goods and services that people need and love. Add in amazing customer service to your mix and for the most part you have a winner. People wil remember and love your ski resort for the memories and emotions they walked away with. Not for the $50 cheaper season pass they got. Good marketing has never been about the price and it never will.

Ski resort marketing has always been about:

  • the mountain (acres, number of lifts, terrain parks)
  • the snow
  • crowd control and parking
  • proximity to where you live / ease of getting there
  • lessons, programs and events
  • non-ski activities (villages, dining, shopping, spas)
  • skiing and riding with your family and friends (probably the most important one)
  • the experience

Seeing Heavenly Mountain’s infographic on why their season pass is better than their competitors (Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows) makes me sad. And angry. This looks like a last resort and a desperate effort to drum up some season pass revenue and unfortunately a good example of bad marketing in my book. It opens the door to serious cutthroat competition down the road where the companies involved will only lose in the long run. It says war. It’s not enough that season pass price wars are getting so serious nowadays that for the price of 4 lift tickets you can buy a season long access to the mountain of your choice. Despite all the buzz about how cool infographics are for online marketing, I have to ask: Do we really need an infographic to point out the differences between ski resorts? Or is the marketing department that bored and has nothing else to do? Do you really think that people are incapable of doing the comparison themselves? What’s going to happen after this? Shouldn’t all ski resorts be more concerned with bringing new people to the sport and increasing loyalty of their existing customers?

I have lived in Lake Tahoe for 17 years now and I have never skied Kirkwood. Why? It’s too long of a drive for me for a day trip from the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and I haven’t gone around booking a weekend trip yet. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just not convenient. I have skied Sierra at Tahoe only one time for the same reasons. I’ve been to Heavenly a few times and it can be a fun mountain if you know where to go. I’m very familiar with Northstar, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. Being close to where I live makes a difference for me to decide where I want ski. Terrain makes a difference. Skiing with my friends guarantees a fun day on the mountain and even better apres skiing.

Would I change where I ski because of the reasons listed in the infographic? Probably not. Would other people? I don’t know. But this strategy is not what I expect to see from Vail Resorts. Very disappointing to say the least. Not the type of remarkable, positive experience I expect to see from this company.

How did people react to the infographic?  Some positive and some negative comments followed the visual. One can say that it backfired on Heavenly. See below for yourself a few of the comments.







Obviously, some people (Facebook fans of Heavenly Ski Resort) are not so happy with this specific post. One wonders are they just Facebook fans or season pass owners as well? At the same time, there are plenty of people and Heavenly brand advocates who liked the posting and left positive comments in support of the ski resorts owned by Vail. I haven’t included them in this post but feel free to go and see for yourself.

The bottom line:

I disagree with this strategy and its execution. If you want to do this internally that’s one thing. Instead of focusing on exact comparisons with your competitors, focus on what you do better. Focus on creating memories for life. Create a life long lasting bond with your customers. Make sure your fans not just “like you”, they LOVE YOU.

Full Disclosure: Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are Out&About Marketing’s clients. That’s not the reason for this post. Stick to good marketing and don’t fall into traps like this.


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About Milena Regos

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

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