Campaign gives resort a lift

With just $150,000 in its entire communications budget, Blackcomb Mountain ski resort decided to devote most of it to the launch of its new 'Glacier Express' quad ski lift chair at the beginning of the 1992 ski season.Upgraded facilitiesVRH Communications devised...

With just $150,000 in its entire communications budget, Blackcomb Mountain ski resort decided to devote most of it to the launch of its new ‘Glacier Express’ quad ski lift chair at the beginning of the 1992 ski season.

Upgraded facilities

VRH Communications devised a strategy to focus on the Glacier Express as a way of promoting the upgraded facilities on the mountain, as well as promoting the mountain as an innovator in ski technology.

Using the latest technology, the Glacier Express would be one of the fastest in North America, transporting about 2,500 skiers per hour up the high alpine terrain.

Because of the limited marketing budget, Blackcomb would use several types of promotional activities to stimulate skier interest in the chair.

‘We had to leverage our money,’ says Rob McSkimming, Blackcomb marketing manager. ‘So we packaged a number of activities together to make quite a bit of noise.’

The campaign began with the distribution of a direct mail piece to ski writers – a specially designed glass bottle with glacier water inside, promoting the ski area’s association with glaciers (‘Blackcomb Glacier is Huge.’)

The piece, designed by vrh with Vancouver ad agency Wasserman Cozens Dundon, won a Lotus award.

Season pass campaign

The season pass campaign began in September with a heavy newspaper campaign, ‘Fly The Glacier Express,’ to encourage area skiers to try Blackcomb before they bought their season passes.

The ads ran in newspapers, transit and outdoor.

The graphics featured a dramatic Brent Lynch illustration of four skiers sitting abreast flying over a vast glacier.

Blackcomb became partners with daily newspaper The Vancouver Sun and C-Fox radio to run a sweepstakes contest in its ‘Piece of the Glacier’ promotions.

In addition, agreements were made with Kodak to place ‘scratch and win’ cards on the back of film holders.

Restaurants participated

Restaurants in the Lower Mainland participated in the promotions, carrying attractive tent cards that promoted the Glacier Express.

Point-of-purchase cards in stores and companion posters carried discount ticket offers.

A newsletter lure piece was sent to thousands of skiers through Blackcomb in the fall and was inserted into the Sun at the beginning of the season.

During the countdown to the opening of the new chair, skiers were given buttons with ‘Fly the Glacier Express.’

When skiers departed the lift, they were given ‘I Flew the Glacier Express.’

What the campaign could not guarantee was snow. Last year was officially a poor year for the b.c. resorts.

However, the campaign is credited with creating a 10% increase in overall ticket sales. Despite the poor snow, the skier days increased from 748,000 to 764,000.

‘We had good awareness early in the season because of the promotion,’ McSkimming says.

‘But it really paid off in the spring because we had quite a few more local skiers on day visits, meaning our market share went up in the Vancouver market,’ he says.

‘The campaign really paid dividends.’