Heavenly Ski Resort snow Report

Ski Resort Marketing Sans Snow

The Reno/Tahoe area is currently experiencing one of the driest winters on record, with 1.5 inches of snow recorded thus far in the 2011-2012 season. The typical November to April average is 170 inches. And after last year’s 599 inches of snow—marking Tahoe’s 12th snowiest winter on record—the dichotomy has become all the more apparent.

With 18 area ski resorts within an hour’s drive of the Reno-Tahoe International airport, and California ski resorts reporting 7.6 million visits to major resorts last season totaling $700 million in direct visitor spending, the lack of snow up until now has been unsettling. Having had several out-of-town friends who have now either postponed or re-directed their winter ski trips elsewhere, I’ve begun to wonder: how have the ski resorts been handling this “marketing catastrophe?”

According to a recent article in the Reno Gazette Journal entitled “Resorts make do without the snow, ” even though the ski business over the holidays was down 45 to 50 percent and there’s scarcely been enough natural snow to make a snowman, area businesses are remaining optimistic. Despite the fact that competing ski resorts in other states are offering such promotions as free skiing at their resorts with the purchase of a Tahoe area ski resort life ticket, and regardless of the fact that the region remains a world-class, year-round tourism destination, it’s no secret that the region is now starting to lose certain visitors to competitors due to circumstances outside of its control. Just read some of the Facebook posts on the ski resort pages where potential visitors to the region seem to all be asking the same question: when can we expect snow?

Below is a brief overview for how some of the area ski resorts are waging their battles in light of this “crisis, ” all of which seem to be taking a classic, proactive approach by not only listening to and empathizing with customers, but through offering a wealth of real-time information, interactive online campaigns, videos, alluring photos, incredible discounts, and more.

Northstar Ski Resort, Truckee, CA and Heavenly Ski Resort, South Lake Tahoe, CA:

On January 9th, Bill Rock, COO of Northstar California and Pete Sonntag, the GM of Heavenly Mountain Resort issued a joint statement to their season passholders entitled “The Power of Snowmaking” which was posted to the Northstar California Faceook page, complete with a graph illustrating which ski resorts are making the most snow in the region. They write: “It’s no secret that natural snow has been hard to come by this year and we know that has been a disappointment for many of you.” By beginning with a disarming statement, they lure readers in to hear more about the details of their snowmaking efforts and finish with a cheerful “see you on the slopes.”

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