Skico ‘goes deep’ with marketing campaign |

Skico ‘goes deep’ with marketing campaign

ASPEN ” Mother Nature gift-wrapped a marketing strategy that the Aspen Skiing Co. is using to try to improve sluggish business during the second half of the season.

The Skico is in the middle of a campaign called Aspen/Snowmass Goes Deep to try to fill in soft spots in February and March. It’s only one part of the overall marketing plan, but with record snowfall in Snowmass during December and January, it’s a big part, according to Skico vice president of marketing Jeanne Mackowski.

Once it became apparent in December that this season was something special with ongoing snowfall, the Skico began pumping out direct mail pieces to its prior guests and prospective new customers, e-mails to a database of interested people and video news releases to the media.

“The snow totals and quantities of e-mails we are sending out just keep piling up,” Mackowski said.

The Skico turned December into DEEPcember and January into JanuBURIED as part of the campaign.

Fortunately, the Skico didn’t blow its marketing budget trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear earlier in the season. November was warm and dry, so travelers weren’t gambling on good conditions later in the season. The number of reservations made was well behind the normal pace early on.

Instead of panicking and spending the funds to try to get people to book anyway, the Skico remained patient. “We used some of our marketing slated for fall to blitz the marketplace during the last weeks,” Mackowski said.

By waiting, the Skico also could focus on what time periods to try to fill by using occupancy reports. As recently as Jan. 23, those reports showed that business was down after Feb. 9 and during the first half of March. That picture is beginning to change, according to Mackowski.

“From the last occupancy forecast, it appears our efforts are working, and some previously open weeks in late February and early March are beginning to fill in,” she said.

For reasons that aren’t totally clear, record numbers of people are tapping into the Skico’s website. It might be a combination of marketing efforts, general awareness around the country of great snow in western U.S. resorts, curiosity about the X Games and increased use of the Internet as a vacation planning tool.

Whatever the reason, visits to the Skico website are soaring. The number of “unique visitors” topped 451,000 in December, up 43 percent from December 2006, Mackowski said.

The Skico only counts a computer once per month to determine its unique visitors. In other words, a person who logs in every day from the same computer to check on the snow report is counted only once for the month, not for each day.

That is an encouraging sign to a marketing director because it shows people are interested in what Aspen/Snowmass has to offer, Mackowski said.

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