On Wednesday, the Ketchum City Council approved a budget with cuts to funding for marketing. Discussion around the cuts revealed that the mayor and some City Council members are banking on Sun Valley Resort’s new affiliation with the EPIC ski pass to grow winter business instead.
That’s a mistake.
Even Colorado’s big resorts, where local skiers complained that the multi-resort season passes clogged their home mountains with visitors, can’t determine whether their growing skier counts are attributable to the passes or to huge snowpacks in the past two of three years.
Several Colorado resorts reported that large percentages of their increased skier numbers were locals who took advantage of price drops that the passes afforded.
To believe that the EPIC pass will obliterate the need for continued or increased funding for marketing is folly.
The other resorts participating in the EPIC pass are marketing powerhouses. They include Vail, Whistler, Beaver Creek and Park City—the last with the most accessible skiing in the nation.
Enormous marketing fuels their high-voltage images and high name recognition. In comparison, Sun Valley is a dim glow and a faint whisper.
A silver bullet doesn’t exist in marketing. Only consistency with creative promotions build business. Weak or spotty efforts produce weak results.
Successful companies know this. Even those that sell products that are household names, like Coke, Pepsi, Kleenex and Jacuzzi, market heavily to ensure that the products remain top-of-mind.
Sun Valley’s winter economy will continue to be stagnant or decline without strong marketing in addition to the EPIC pass. There is no substitute.