Last week, Tourism BC launched their Ski It to Believe It campaign, a collective marketing initiative featuring all of BC’s 13 ski resorts aimed at attracting more destination skiers to BC.
The campaign launched at the Toronto Ski and Snowboard Show and runs until March, with a budget of $1.55 million, according to a BC government press release. It involves a microsite, online banners, mobile ads, an electronic Ski Guide, a contest with a $15,000 ski vacation as the prize and guest appearances by Ashleigh McIvor in a virtual ski racing machine.
While the Ski It To Believe It campaign is claiming that this is the first year that participants from B.C. have co-ordinated their efforts and are represented under common B.C. branding, it’s certainly not the first collective marketing initiative from within the ski and snowboard resort industry.
Which is why, with a decent budget, some inspiring ‘best practices’ out there, a passionate target audience and a record-breaking season in our immediate memory, we were frankly hoping for a bit more.
What we like about it? 13 resorts have come together.
This is timely and important. Canadian tourism funding post-2010 is shrinking – the CTC’s funding has contracted by 41.5% over the last decade, and just last week Tourism Whistler asked its member businesses to start a letter writing campaign to their MP, the minister of state for small business and tourism, to lobby for better federal tourism funding. If resorts don’t work together to put BC on the radar for long-haul skiers and riders, we’re at a significant disadvantage to Colorado, Alberta, or Europe, who can boast a higher degree of geographic concentration of resorts and household-name mountain ranges with The Rockies or The Alps.
The Ski It To Believe It campaign launch prompted us to look at two other collective marketing projects for ski/snowboard destinations that built campaigns on the premise of United We Stand, Divided We Fall Off the Radar.
Because, while we’re stoked to see BC’s collection of kick-ass resorts join forces to let people know this province deserves as much serious consideration for their dream Snow vacation as Colorado, Hokkaido or France’s Trois Vallées, we don’t get much sense of British Columbia, the Winter version, from this campaign, beyond “13 resorts = mucho variety = something for everyone.”
Great collective marketing is more than a showcase of the sum of the parts. It creates some kind of synergy out of the collaboration – a synergy that has the power to really engage one of the most passionate demographics out there.
Just as the Kootenay Rockies Tourism did 5 years ago when they launched the Powder Highway campaign.
The concept promoted the Powder Highway, the Koots’ cluster of regional resorts and lodges as the highest concentration of champagne powder ski destinations in the world, leveraging the power of social media. It launched a campaign with a Quest to Find the Ultimate Ski Bum, who would get to live and ski in the Rockies for free for 3 months, enjoying 8 luxury resorts and 15 days of heli and cat skiing.
Over 4 weeks 4,700 people joined the [newly created facebook] fan page, posting pictures, comments, and stories. The competition was fierce; one guy even tattooed the phrase Ski Bum on his ass and sent in the picture. The campaign saw over 11,000 “Stories Talking About,” shared to an audience of 2.1 Million, with nearly 5,000 passionate Skiers and Snowboarders posting their original content to the Powder Highway fan page. Joel Marc, Digital Producer
Question: can Ski It To Believe It possibly be that sticky for British Columbia? Ask yourself this: Would you tattoo it on your backside?
A more recent collaborative marketing campaign was launched in the new “Mountain Collective Pass” – a response to Vail’s Epic Pass which has been dominating in the Colorado and California market and boosting Vail Resorts’ bottom line.
What the Mountain Collective does right with their branding piece is allow each resort its distinctive look and feel, but to clearly present the benefit of the bundle – amalgamating the resorts’ collective assets into one booty-haul of 16,005 acres, 104 lifts, 8 mountains and 4 states. For the skier, the benefit of collaboration is made clear. You get a whole lot more for a whole lot less. Variety is the spice of life, and the Mountain Collective makes it easy for you to have it.
But honestly, so are destination skiers and riders. That’s why they’re willing to forfeit pina coladas and endure airport security screenings and long-haul travel in order to make winter pilgrimmages to snow-cloaked destinations.
British Columbia is a unique place in the world and it has amazing resorts with fanatical devotees. We’d love to see a Tourism BC ski resort marketing do a better job conveying that.