Online Ski Advertising: Not Such a Slippery Slope

The Vermont resort industry doesn’t waste time getting in front of potential skiers and snowboarders. Arrive at the baggage claim in Burlington International Airport and you’ll notice several billboards advertising the Green Mountain State’s many world-renowned mountains.

One ad in particular caught my eye while I was in the area for the holidays. It depicted a glamorous couple standing in front of a private jet, indicating their ability to judge a ski resort was based on the quality of the local film festival. The message was that if you didn’t come to Vermont for skiing, you’d do better to pack up your singular expectations and take them someplace else.

Indeed, many American ski resorts have become as much about culture, prestige, and high-brow entertainment as the sport. As a result, visitors are now a blend of those with a passion for skiing and those with a passion for, well, fashion. If as a marketer you must connect with affluent and image-conscious consumers, you can’t overlook destinations such as Aspen, Vail, and Telluride, havens for celebrities and the über-rich. At the same time, an opportunity always exists to connect with sports enthusiasts who take their skiing seriously.

The Evolution of Ski Sport Sites

When I planed media for a leading resort company years ago, online destinations catering to skiers were pretty limited. It was a challenge to effectively spend a sizeable ad budget on the Web. Even today, some sport sites that encompass different mountainous regions of the country bear advertising that looks to be straight out of the ’90s. Haven’t we progressed beyond animated hotel logos piled a dozen high, or coupons for boot fittings in banners with faux-perforated edges?

The short answer is it depends on the caché associated with the region, and the perceived value of its customer base.

This is perfectly illustrated by Plum TV, a media network focused on a select group of markets and their upper-crust clientele. Regions targeted include Aspen, Telluride, Sun Valley, and Vail, arguably the most prestigious ski destinations the country has to offer.

Unlike most local ski sport sites, Plum TV offers residents of and visitors to these small but significant towns access to superior content uniquely created for them on the Plum TV specialty lifestyle television network, as well as on its area-specific sites. The sites include features such as a blog, event calendar, hotel, restaurant and visitor guides, a news ticker, and several Webcams. A Plum on TV section allows site visitors to access some of the programming they may have missed on TV. This typically includes anything from region-specific documentaries and biographies to updates on slope conditions and yoga segments hosted by local experts.

These sites are a far cry from many slapdash competitors, which is to be expected when its audiences are increasingly accustomed to more and better content presented in a more engaging manner.

Look and Book

If you subscribe to the theory that more is better, you might find mainstay travel site Away.com has also made some changes to better align with resort audiences, though its focus is certainly more expansive. The network’s Ski Guide features sections specific to each region, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest, and even allows users to drill down to a specific resort. Sister site Outsider Online provides a Winter Hot List and Winter Buyer’s Guide.

Away’s state-specific pages are also rife with information including snow reports, resort-specific articles, “at a glance” stat sheets, and average pricing information. Of course, every page offers numerous ad placements and sponsorship opportunities, along with the ability for consumers to actually book a trip.

Winter brings cold weather and hot advertising options online. Whether your product is positioned for everyday skiers or affluent socialites, this category is more likely than ever to offer placements that impress.

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