Liftopia: Preparing E-commerce strategy for next season in the midst of Covid-19
It’s been a difficult few months for our industry. With the sudden closure of ski resorts across the world, we all (and our customers!) experienced some challenges we’ve never faced before. But in the midst of it all, we’re optimistically thinking about the return of skiing next winter, and how ski areas might adjust their strategies and product offerings as a result of what’s happened this spring. You’re also likely thinking about how your strategy might differ next season, so we’ve put together a few strategy suggestions to guide your approach.
Given the general uncertainty consumers are feeling in the midst of these unprecedented times, offering a product mix for next season that includes more flexible options may give consumers the comfort they need to buy. For example, you can consider offering an “anytime” ticket or multi-packs for next season that aren’t tied to specific dates. Offering these types of products well ahead of next season can encourage your customers to commit to your resort before snow starts to fall. However, if you expect to run into capacity constraints with frequency, anytime tickets may not be the best strategy as you can’t control customer arrival.
Payment Plan Options for Season Passes
Since season passes are bigger ticket items, giving customers the ability to spread their payment over set installments can also increase their likelihood of buying. Instead of paying the entire sum upfront, payment plans allow customers to submit their payments in smaller amounts spread over a schedule you can control.
Starting Price Points for Dated Strategies
We often see ski areas lean towards increases in window rate year-over-year paired with comparable increases in starting price point. Given the economic impact we’ve all seen and experienced so far, keeping the cost of skiing affordable and accessible will be more important than ever. One strategy we’ve seen work well for ski areas in prior seasons (well before the prospect of a global pandemic) is to offer a promotional starting tier of pricing at limited quantities during the summer months to encourage advanced buying behavior. This tier of pricing can be removed from pricing plans on a specific date, if desired.
We don’t recommend lowering your window price, because it’s difficult to back away from that change. Be wary of retreating from your existing window rates when you can always adjust online prices to move up when demand returns.
Of course, effective marketing is key to sending traffic to your website and online store, and getting eyes on your products. The goal of that messaging should be to educate your customers on the anatomy of a pricing strategy just enough so they know to “buy in advance and save” (e.g. the best price is always available now, because prices move up as tickets sell).