Merchant: Mission Ridge Ski Area
Location: Wenatchee, Washington
Platforms: Ascent360, MailChimp, Siriusware, Facebook
Bottom Line: Businesses looking to foster long-term relationships with guests can use triggered campaigns to better understand their audiences’ needs.
Long before the first winter snowflake ever hits the ground, ski resort marketers are already ramping up their efforts to prepare for the upcoming season. At Mission Ridge Ski Area in Wenatchee, Washington, Director of Marketing Tony Hickok is in the midst of launching and scaling a learn-to-ski program called Freedom Pass, and he’s using an automated marketing platform to target the right skiers and snowboarders at the right time.
“Success with the Freedom Pass program relies not only on the compelling offer and progression ladder, but also important and timely communication with each guest,” Hickok says.
Using a cloud-based marketing platform called Ascent360, Hickok has been able to implement email campaigns designed to deliver triggered information to guests. He says the goal of the Freedom Pass is to get new skiers and snowboarders to fall in love with winter sports “for a lifetime,” which means the value of each converted guest is high.
“Folks who are interested in buying pass products and other multi-visit products have shown a certain level of dedication, both to the sport and likely to Mission Ridge,” he says. “Passholders are the folks we have the best chance to get to know well over multiple years.”
Hickok says that passholders tend to be previous customers who have a good idea of what the ski resort represents, and as a result, marketing to these guests is most effective when it’s done in a direct and personal way. The data that Hickok collects through his campaigns is utilized to identify and separate out similar groups of guests to have direct communication with, along with information about what they need, want, and what is of interest to them.
“There is an even higher degree of accountability for promptness of communication and content of message,” he says.
Prior to the introduction of Mission Ridge’s Freedom Pass, Hickok says the resort’s biggest marketing challenge was providing an opportunity and experience that wasn’t just a piece of bait, but one that got guests excited about all kinds of winter activities. Now Mission Ridge has a program in the Freedom Pass that delivers on that roadmap, but the new challenge has become creating awareness and exposure around the program.
During Mission Ridge’s initial season using the Ascent360 platform, Hickok focused primarily on the communication aspect of his marketing strategy, creating automated campaigns that allowed him to remind participants in the Freedom Pass program when they had unlocked new upgrades and discounts, as well as much more comprehensive segmentation and understanding of the ski resort’s audiences.
Although Ascent360 is the first customer data platform that Mission Ridge has used for marketing, prior to last season the resort was also relying on its email provider, MailChimp, along with its POS system, Siriusware, and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to foster customer relationships and drive conversions.
Hickok says that using an automated customer data platform has made it possible to take the “next step” in marketing. The platform is a crucial piece of Mission Ridge’s overarching marketing strategy, better connecting with skiers and riders in the right manner, at the right time, and with right message. With targeted campaigns in place, Hickok has also been able to scale back on the one-off campaigns he’d been running previously, along with traditional mass marketing tactics on radio, social media, and in print.
“Really it is about knowing your audience and segmenting that audience so that you can send out as specific messaging as possible to them,” he says. “You have to deliver them value. Once you are delivering the value then you are able to effectively communicate the info that they didn’t know they wanted to know, as well as important info you want them to know.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.