Pickett outlines MMSA marketing strategy for Chamber members
Mammoth Mountain Marketing Director Howard Pickett gave a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce last Thursday evening, outlining some of the ski area’s plans for bringing in visitors and talking a little more than usual about how MMSA and the town can capitalize on some new avenues and emergeing trends.
For starters, Pickett started by proposing that Yosemite is an underdeveloped market. He also said MMSA plans to use the added Horizon flights coming in from San Jose, Portland, Seattle and Reno to boost visitation from both SoCal and NorCal markets. “Holidays and big weekends are okay, but secondary trips tend to suffer,” Pickett said. He also wants to “make converts of Tahoe loyalists,” which he allowed translates to essentially “stealing them.”
And, as with other “theme parks” such as Disney World in Orlando, single-day ticket prices are going up … again … this time to $87, which Pickett said would “maximize walk-up yield,” the logic being “if they’re already here, then odds are they’ll pay it.”
On the upside, that may encourage more use of reconfigured 2- and 3-day discount packages, designed to increase multi-night stays. In response to some criticism from some town lodging partners and booking agencies, he also said the ski area has streamlined access to ticket packages to improve things for in-town use.
Another big push will be toward more online booking. “Travel agents are more and more becoming a high-end client service,” Pickett observed.
He also talked about getting “more aggressive” in terms of communications with trade industry outlets. “We haven’t done this very well in the past.” New products in the ski market are hard to come by, but Pickett said MMSA will focus on promoting items such as increased air service, the ski back trail and the new, improved Village.
Also in the works is a plan to package the Mountain as a summer wedding location. “We have sites ranging from mountainscapes to lakes. You can’t get that in a ballroom at the Anaheim Hilton,” Pickett quipped.
The Mountain is also missing out on “boosting guest experiences” for special events, such as the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve, college football and even NASCAR races. Pickett said he plans to organize events around those, and tie-ins with other partners, such as Ford, the Mountain’s official vehicle supplier.
How to better use new technology, mobile phone “apps” in particular — is on MMSA’s list of things to do, adding features such as dump alerts, uploading pictures and videos, virtual tours, among other ideas, though whether or not those applications will be MMSA exclusive, or in tandem with the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce is still up for discussion.
Developing content for television outlets, such as KTLA’s morning news show and the new Ski Channel is an ongoing effort Pickett said they anticipate could soon result in a burst of additional media exposure.
One demographic the Mountain certainly plans to cozy up to is ski journalists, schmoozing and currying favor with writers who helped blow up the recent Free Ski Day story, the idea being to help elevate the Mountain’s average ranking in industry publications, which it thinks could/should be higher.
*Though Lunch says he cannot be bought, Clouds admits he’s always up for a little cuddling.
A fresh campaign of new billboard and print ads is set to roll out soon. New markets this year include Hwys 80 and 50 in Tahoe, and a new “retail trailer” that will have a presence at tradeshows and hawk merchandise at Chair 2 (when it isn’t on the road). As if that weren’t enough, trail maps (sponsored with ads, of course) will make their debut this season on Chairs 2, 4, 15 and 16.
Pickett didn’t discuss what the Mountain plans to do vis-a-vis luring more hot, hip competitive events. Suffice to say, it’s hard to be cool … and arguably expensive as well, which could factor into why other ski areas have dug deep to pull away some events, such as the Orage Masters, which went to Whistler last year, and why Mammoth has yet to host the X-Games.