DENVER - Colorado ski resorts are hoping to win back customers after a year of declining skier visits with aggressive discount strategies and incentives.Senior Vice President at Aspen Skiing David Perry said the new wave of discounts will likely be a part of ski resorts' marketing strategies for years to come as the industry tries to rebound from a difficult year."We have culturally embedded frugality," he said. "In the past, it was not socially acceptable to ask for discounts. Now, we're seeing people calling and brazenly asking for discounts."Skier visits declined by 7.3 percent last year at the four areas that make Aspen/Snowmass. Overall, the Colorado ski industry saw a 5.5 percent decline.Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz said the discounts offered by resorts may reduce profits initially but will pay off if they get skiers to return."There is no question that we think (the promotions) over the long term will help drive profits," he said.At Aspen/Snowmass, promotions include a free lift ticket and a night of lodging with the purchase of four discounted lift passes with four or more days of equipment rentals.At Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., which saw a 6 percent decline in skier visits last year, returning customers got a 30 percent discount on vacation packages for this winter if they prepaid by Aug. 31."We have, arguably, the most aggressive programs in the ski and travel industry," said Andy Wirth, Steamboat's senior vice president of marketing and sales.Preferred customers at Steamboat are also getting personal phone calls from skiing legend Billy Kidd to persuade them to book return vacations.Other deals at ski resorts include discounted prices for private lessons.
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