Conversion Cup Challenge
NSAA is calling on all member ski areas to convert, convert, convert! What is conversion? Conversion is simply the process of turning beginner skiers and riders into repeat customers, and ultimately lifelong enthusiasts of the sport. With this, NSAA has developed the Conversion Cup Challenge, a friendly competition among member ski areas that closely aligns with the industry's overall goals to grow the sport.
As NSAA's Growth Model outlines, conversion is not a short-term process but rather a long-term transformation. Yet the current demographics make it clear: Time is not on the industry's side. The Baby Boom generation continues to age and will ultimately hang up their ski and snowboard gear for good. Research shows that if we do not improve our efforts to introduce new participants to the sport -- and convert them to lifelong enthusiasts - overall ski and snowboard visitation figures could decrease by 2.5 percent per season. NSAA's Conversion Cup Challenge is designed as a fun way to pique competition among member ski areas and recognize those who make significant efforts to boost skier and snowboarder conversion rates.
As part of the competition, applicants must provide a detailed overview of their program designed specifically to increase skier and rider conversion rates. Some parameters judges look for when making their selections:
- Increase in Level 1 lesson volumes;
- Level 1 lesson volumes in relation to total skier and snowboarder visits;
- Quantifiable success of multi-lesson packages;
- Season-to-date sales data on specific learn-to packages designed to drive repeat visitation;
- Overall data collection capabilities and sophistication;
- Marketing ingenuity, creativity, use of new media, etc.
The Conversion Cup is a traveling award. The winning resort will claim the Cup for a period of one year, until the next Conversion Cup winner is again crowned at the NSAA National Convention. Winners will receive a Conversion Cup plaque to keep on display at their ski area.
Please join us in congratulating the 2015/16 Conversion Cup winner - Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts.
Family owned and operated since 1973, Wachusett has been doing a lot of things right for many years to attract beginners and convert them into committed skiers and riders. This modest-sized resort won the 2016 award based on creative ideas, a logical learning progression beyond the initial package offer, measurable results, solid execution, and long-term commitment to the conversion effort.
Within 1 hour of Boston, Providence, and Worcester, the resort takes full advantage of its proximity to these large population centers—not just for its own benefit but also in a much broader sense. “We see it as our job to create future skiers and riders for the industry,” said Carolyn Stimpson, Wachusett’s vice president of resort services. “We’re proud to be a feeder area.”
With the large metro market of some 8 million people nearby, Wachusett is in a prime position to do just that, and has developed programs to encompass the varying demographics. Using customer data and analytics, Wachusett has designed beginner programs that are targeted to specific audiences—augmented with follow-up emails—to help ensure they return.
This past season the resort concentrated on increasing promotion of its three-day lesson package (lessons, rentals, and lift tickets for only $199) while continuing to promote its already successful one-day lesson package ($99). Working with data analytics partner AscentCRM, Wachusett developed a “smiles rewards” coupon program and triggered email/directmail to encourage upgrades to subsequent affordable lesson packages. Guests who complete the one-day lesson package are offered two more days for only $100 more (a $400 savings). Those who complete the three-day package are offered an additional discounted three-day package for $74.50, and three free rentals—adding up to three more days with equipment (more than a $300 savings over retail). And those who complete either program also receive an offer for 35 percent off a new pair of HEAD Boots for just $179.95, along with a pair of
Coupons are given at the customer service desk, rental shop, and ski school to remind customers—before they leave—about the available upgrades. The resort also delivers the offers via email within 24 hours of the person’s visit, or, for those who do not provide an email address, by direct mail.
Wachusetts’ efforts clearly paid off, with a 65 percent increase in the number of upgrades from the one-day to the three-day package and a 36 percent increase in the 3-Day to 3-Peat package compared with the prior season, even in a year when skier visits were down on the East Coast.
Another promotion to bring more newcomers to snowsports is the resort’s Bring a Friend for Fun incentive for existing customers to bring a buddy—a special offer for a one-day discounted lift ticket and Learn to Ski/Ride Package for $110. The resort promoted the initiative in digital ads and social media, followed by numerous postings of the LSSM/BAF First Day Faces initiative, resulting in considerable media buzz and invaluable exposure for Wachusett.
Recognizing that one of the barriers to trying the sport is often the intimidation factor, Wachusett produced a first-timer “how-to” video that walks viewers through everything they need to know about that initial visit to a ski area—how to dress, how to load a lift, and how to put a boot into
a ski, among other guidelines. The video is posted on the resort’s website, www.wachusett.com, as
well as on YouTube.
The resort also offers a six- or eight-week learning program for local 4th through 12th graders,
and some 10,000 students from 150 schools in three states participate in the program each
season. Approximately 10 percent start the program on the first day Level 1 lessons, offering
Wachusett a tremendous opportunity—if not a sense of responsibility—to make those first experiences on the slopes really count, Stimpson said.
Leveraging the advantages of its large metro markets, Wachusett uses digital ads and its website to emphasize how easy it is to get to the area.Those who ride the “ski train,” Boston’s weekend commuter rail service (the T), can get a free shuttle ride to the resort. Wachusett’s program this season resulted in conversion rates between 35 percent and 125 percent higher than in 2014-15. More significantly, that increase comes in a year when overall skier visits were down 20 percent. All in all, Wachusett is doing everything it can to create a welcoming environment for beginners so they can feel relaxed and
have fun while learning to ski and snowboard. By making it easier for people to learn, Wachusett is making it easier for them to continue their journey to becoming lifelong skiers and snowboarders.
Past Conversion Cup winners:
||Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts
||Killington Resort, Vermont
||Camelback Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania
||Mountain Creek, New Jersey
||Mt. Bachelor, Oregon
||Snow Time, Inc.