Couple of observations from somebody who in recent years brought 2 new skiers to the fold.
Yes, LM was new to the fold only a few years ago. And my daughter also learned in recent years, though she's since mostly gone over to the "darkside" - boarding. But hey, that makes her still a snow-sports, lift-ticket-buying user of the same places.
TCarey mentioned the integrated learning center he saw at Mt. Snow, which is their Perfect Turn Discovery Center. Whatever the flaws of ASC's approach, it's still a good concept. It was in part the relatively smooth "Learning Center" integrated building, boot selection, rental, orientation, instruction concept at Mt. Snow (and later at other ASC resorts K-Mart & Sunday River) that got Lisa into sticking with it enough to get hooked. Totally different from her earlier try 10 years before. (Yes, the whole thing on Core Stability in her TPS article was important too, but the organized-customer-service vs. chaos approach was important in retaining a customer the 2nd time around)
"Many families look at these numbers and say forget it, find something less expensive for our kids to do."
Absolutely right - except the "something less expensive for our kids to do" ends up being frickin' DISNEY in too many cases. And so they end up spending more, for a pre-packaged, "experience" which is totally scripted and passive. Run by an entertainment / information conglomerate. That's the real competition - people who buy condos and timeshares at Disney (or the like) instead of in the mountains, people who will think nothing of blowing $5000 for a family of 4 at a theme park, but think that skiing is "too expensive". If they think of skiing at all.
I honestly think the ski/snowboard industry, as an industry not just as individual mountains and resort chains, should be marketing skiing (and boarding) in the mainstream media. Not in ads in Skiing, Ski Canada, Powder, Outside. But in People, Us, Newsweek, BusinessWeek. Not on OLN, but on CNN, on MSNBC, on ABC, on TNT, on family-demographics CBS. I want to see an episode of CSI or JAG or Judging Amy, sponsored by the Ski Industry. (well actually I don't want to see any of those shows, but I want the people who watch those shows to spend money on our sport).
"This year's vacation, make your own memories. Live your own adventure, not some theme park's script. Ski!"
Damn, if the Cheese Board can get together and "behold the power of cheese" we should be able to come up with a "behold the glory of snow" campaign.
Last point: We need the cheap, local, "entry-level" areas. Nobody pays thousands of dollars to fly cross country to learn golf at Pebble Beach or Palm Desert. They do it at home. As much as I don't get golf, I do get that New England and especially MA has so many golfers who are just regular people, because there are so many open-to-public, local, easily-accessible golf courses, without huge membership prices and gatekeeping. There used to be lots of ski areas like that too, but they're disappearing
I remember how thrilled I was to be able to do our annual youth group ski trip to Tyrol
as our "big" ski trip of the year, compared to 600-foot "Big Blue" just outside of Boston. Luckily Big Blue and some other entry-level areas are still around, but not nearly enough, and there's still a big price increase compared to the 1970-dollar $4 afterschool lift ticket.
We need places where people can try skiing often enough to define themselves as 'skiers', enough so that they'll do the 3-day weekends to K* or Tremblant or Okemo or the Loaf, so they'll consider the week-long family trip to Copper or Whistler or Breck.
I still wanna have some place to ski when I'm 70. And by then my kid should be a rich lawyer who can do right by the old man and set me up with a nice ski home [img]smile.gif[/img]