Original Post

When merchandising is no longer a slippery slope for ski operator

May 3, 2012 By Dennis Schaal

A couple of years ago, Park City Mountain Resort’s merchandising efforts were relatively vanilla, with “a couple of pricing tiers and a handful of products.”

That’s how Geoff Buchheister, director of financing and purchasing for the ski resort in Park City, Utah, recalls Park City Mountain Resort’s merchandising efforts at the time.

And, that wouldn’t have been unusual in the ski industry, which has not been at the forefront of technology innovation in its sales efforts.

Buchheister is much more upbeat these days about the resort’s merchandising efforts after beginning to use the Liftopia Cloud Store, a revenue management and merchandising tool delivered as an SaaS platform.

Park City Mountain Resort did $25,000 in sales the first day it turned on the Liftopia solution, Buccheister claims, and that was about 10% of what the resort usually did for the entire ski season.

That sales mark cannot entirely be attributed to the Liftopia product, however.

The campaign came in conjunction with an email marketing push which had a link to Spring ski deals.

And Park City Mountain Resort also bought some keywords, although the email component was more effective than the search engine marketing blitz, Buchheister says.

Using the Liftopia Cloud Store, the resort could offer things such as midweek specials, ski tickets packaged with VIP fast-tracking for lift access, lift tickets combined with rental packages, and a panalopy of other products on a deals-oriented website, which was separate from Park City Mountain Resort’s main website.

Liftopia says it piloted its Cloud Store with 15 mountain resorts in North America, including Park City Mountain Resort, Whiteface, Crystal Mountain (Michigan), Mad River Glen and Bretton Woods, and officially launched the product this week.

Buchheister says he’s pleased with the Cloud Store’s data and analytics, although he acknowledged it is “a work in progress.”

“Not in a bad way, but in a good way,” he adds.

The resort can view data on the number of searches and tickets sold, revenue per ticket, the conversion rate and average units per sale.

Buchheister says he’s also been able to “plug in” customer data and demographic information, and will be able to integrate Google Analytics “when we fire it up again” next ski season.

There is ample room for improvement in the Liftopia solution when it comes to fulfillment, Buchheister says.

Consumers currently bring a printout of their purchases to the ticket window, where a ticket is printed.

A more seamless process, such as using an RFID solution, would make for a “better experience,” Buchheister says.