When Mount Washington’s Director of Sport and Guest Services, Mike Manara, offered up free skiing, free lessons, and free rentals in 2018, we all paid attention. His success was instant. The resort offered up the same program again in the early season of 2018 and will run it for 10 days in January as well. The CSC followed up with Mike to learn more about the program.

Ski Focus: Just to recap, what is your ski for free program?

Mike Manara:

We developed a program that offers first-time skiers and snowboarders a two-hour lesson, a ski or snowboard rental and an Easy Acres Lift Pass. We targeted the program to those 13 years of age and older. We followed up with them and offered them the next step, our Learn to Turn, program for $139. The Learn to Turn program offers 3 adult group lessons, rentals and lift passes. If the individual completed the Learn to Turn offer by the end of January, they were then offered a

highly discounted season pass for Mount Washington. We also provided a discounted equipment package for $299 that provided them with Rossignol skis, boots and poles or a Rossignol snowboard and binding.

Ski Focus: How successful was it?

Mike Manara:

We hoped to put 450 people through the program and we ended up putting almost 1,100 through it. So it was significant. The real story for us was that we broke down some key barriers to entry with that program. One of them being price and the other, of course, not having access to equipment and the third was the two-hour lesson we gave them. Forty to forty-five per cent of the people that participated either bought a seasons pass, gear, or both. As a resort, those are two key ways we measure conversion. When we look at this moving forward, it makes a big difference for the consumer to be able to go from first time participating, having a lesson and access to equipment, to a seasons pass holder with gear. And they feel there’s good value there too.

Ski Focus: So, obviously you’re going to do it all again?

Mike Manara:

For sure. We opened a little later than we wanted to, but we still ran a short learn to ski for free program for the first seven days of this season and will do another 10 days in January.

You can see the benefits of gaining 300-to-400 new passholders. Multiply that by 12 visits per annum, times the incremental revenue in our revenue centres it doesn’t take long to do the math. There’s some opportunity there.

We’re proud of the program, we’re proud of what we did here. Our goal is to increase the numbers from last year. We want to put 1,200-to-

1,500 people through the program this year.

We’ll look to expanding the program into our Nordic operation in thefuture and we’ll continue to assess. For us right now, it’s a great program

to grow our market.