Ski Area Marketers Tread Lightly Matching 'Right Message' While Helping Super Storm Victims
The immediate need for New York, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy is to return to normalcy. The process figures to be protracted. But, what are the implications for mountain travel?
For the tourism industry on the Long Island and New Jersey coasts, news reports have stated that if such devastation had to occur, it was best at this time of the year so as to allow seaside communities ample time to recover and rebuild before next May when the summer season commences.
However, the ski industry markets to millions of people in the Tri-State area, and the ski season is now. After a lackluster 2011-2012 due to unusually warm weather, winter resorts could use support from those metro area skiers who probably didn’t get their fill a year ago. It’s clearly a difficult time to hard-sell the market.
“Our thoughts are with friends and family in areas impacted by the storm,” Myra Foster, Stratton Mountain spokesperson told SnoCountry.com. “Here in Vermont we know the challenges on the road to recovery, and we want our friends to know that we are here for them when they are ready.” Foster’s tactful comment referenced the rebuilding of infrastructure in Vermont a year ago due to Tropical Storm Irene.
Eric Friedman, Marketing Director at Mad River Glen, echoed those Irene sentiments, and also told us, “We have co-op shareholders who have been affected by the storm……many folks have already been escaping to Vermont.”
The metro New York City market is within easy access – from an hour to a day’s drive - to many Northeast and mid-Atlantic ski and ride resorts, but given the personal dilemmas of rebuilding homes and businesses, and the costs therein, the ski industry must think that a winter vacation won’t be paramount to the hundreds of thousands affected by the destructive storm.
“We have given some thought to this,” added Rich Edwards, Director of Marketing at Catamount Ski Area on the Massachusetts/N.Y. border, which attracts day-trippers and overnight visitors from metro New York.
“There are likely to be hundreds, if not thousands, of skiing households who will suffer a financial burden (ie., a homeowner’s insurance deductible or uninsured losses) that may prevent them from buying new ski equipment, scheduling daily ski trips or a ski week vacation.”
Edwards, whose ski center is a two and a half hour drive from Manhattan, added that he was open to suggestions for dealing appropriately with this delicate matter.
Meanwhile, Tuxedo Ridge, just 44 miles from Penn Station in New York City, is taking an aggressive, yet helpful stance with the recovery even as they overcome their own Sandy-related power outages.
At last weekend’s job fair, Tuxedo Ridge collected clothing and non-perishable goods for transport to the affected areas, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Cole. They will repeat the effort this Saturday in conjunction with another job fair.
“We know these are hard times with Hurricane Sandy and economically,” Tuxedo Ridge CEO James Mezzetti commented to SnoCountry.com. “We are not raising and we are actually lowering some prices.”
Cole added that her ski area is rolling out package prices that haven’t been seen in years, including deeply discounted mid-week learn to ski programs, and $10 Tuesdays for First Responders.
One of the last ski shows of the fall, taking place this past weekend in Boston, was the scene for Operation Mountains of Love. The Ski Vermont initiative benefitted the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Sugarbush Resort President Win Smith said that his resort would match Ski Vermont’s efforts up to $25,000, while Okemo donated $10,000 and plans a Thanksgiving fundraiser.
Photo: Ortley Beach, NJ Super Storm damage (CNN.com)