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Wisp offering free lessons for beginners Dec. 16-24
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Updated 5 months ago
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marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

I’ve heard of a free lesson or a free day for beginners or a free pair of skis for completing a set of beginner lessons, but never a free multi-lesson deal.  Is this a new early season program at Wisp?

3-Free-Learn-to Ski / Snowboard Program

Wisp Resort is on a mission to introduce more skiers and snowboarders to our industry.  What better way to do that then by making it FREE and EASY!?

Who:  First-time skiers or snowboarders ages 8+

What:  Free Learn-to Ski or Snowboard Package includes Learning Area Lift Ticket, Ski or Snowboard Equipment and Group Lesson

Where:  The Learning Center at Wisp Resort located in Sundown Village

When:  December 16 - 24, 2017  9am - 3pm

How:  Must register online at least 48 hours in advance.

Graduate:  Our goal is for all those beginner skiers and snowboarders to complete 3 learn-to ski or snowboard lessons.  After that, we will offer a $99 17.18 Winter Season Pass as well as a $99 seasonal equipment rental or a $299 Rossignol ski package or $199 Rossignol snowboard package.

Fine Print:  Limited availability.  One learn-to package per person per day.  Maximum of 3 learn-to packages per person.  After the group lesson, guests can upgrade to a full-access lift ticket for that day (based on available terrain) and extend rental equipment for the remainder of the day for $14.  Seasonal equipment offer based on availability and limited quantities.

5 months ago

Props to Wisp for doing this.  I hope it’s successful in getting new enthusiasts and pass sales for Wisp.

5 months ago

Nice job, WISP! I hope it is a great success for them.

5 months ago

I love stuff like this, but as a business person, I feel they should drop the 8+ age requirement.  I can guess why they have that in place, but if they were to offer this for little kids, they’re likely to get families to come along.

In our case, we are unlikely to visit Wisp this season.  We have passes to Snowshoe, and if we don’t want to drive that far, will likely go to Whitetail or Massanutten.  I’ve visited Wisp in the past, and found it perfectly nice, but just too lacking in vertical.  Really, the only thing I can think off of the top of my head that would send us there would be joining friends who already had plans there (very unlikely) or a big storm that hit Wisp and not other resorts.

However, if our youngest son (who is a beginner) could get free lessons, you bet my wife, my 7 y/o daughter (intermediate), and I would buy day tickets, likely for a couple of days.  Let’s say we did 2 days.  Wisp gets the revenue from two adult day tickets, plus I either pay to send my daughter to ski school or buy her a kids’ day ticket.  Plus, even though that beginner lesson for my son would be free, I’d still be tipping the instructor.  And, in our case, I lease equipment for both kids, so there is no added cost to Wisp there.

Unfortunately, if you limit it to 8+, most skiing families will have already had their kids in lessons by then (our daughter has been on skis since she was 2).  That’s fine, but those families may opt for resorts with better locations (Snowtime, as judged by proximity to DC) or product (Snowshoe, as judged by size, vertical, and snowmaking).  

5 months ago

I have to echo what Reisen said, the 8+ age requirement is a killer.

I was just about to send this to a friend who wants to take his 6yr old out for the first time this year.  For WISP this would have been myself and my two kids (all paying), my buddy and an older kid (paying) then the free child.  It’s not a bad drive from Pittsburgh and would have been a fun adventure.  My kids, who are little (7/5) but have skied for years would have loved the intermediate terrain there.

Age requirements on lessons are difficult.  The problem is families where the parents ski want to get their kids skiing young.  I know I paid for private lessons when my kids were four at Boyce park.  I tried to twist the ski school’s arm into giving them when the kids were three, but they weren’t interested.  I have two younger kids who don’t ski yet, and when the third turns four he’ll be out at Boyce for private lessons.  I’m not going to wait an additional four years before getting them on skis.  

I don’t know who these deals are attractive to, but it isn’t families that consistently ski.  What the industry needs to learn is that families like mine are happy to pump money into tickets, lessons, season rentals year after year.  Whereas some of these things net them a few hundred in lodging revenue on a single weekend, but don’t create LTV.

5 months ago

Yeah, just to chime back in and back what oddball wrote (I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here).  

I suspect the reason why Wisp put the age limit in place is they don’t have problems filling the beginner classes with (paying) little kids.  If the parents want to ski, a 5 y/o often has no choice but to go to ski school.

Further, Wisp is probably trying to grow the market, and add to the pool of skiers by attracting completely new groups (ie. 20 somethings as individuals, couples, or small groups).  That’s great.

But these people aren’t your base.  Your base are consistent skiers, and, for them, you either need to grow your share of their wallet, or expand their total expenditure on skiing.  And, as oddball rightly points out, this offers little value to most skiing families.  

Contrast that to what Snowshoe does with giving a kid’s pass away for free to ridiculous passholders.  Very different strategy, and I would argue Snowshoe’s is better / more successful.  

5 months ago

On every parade, someone must rain.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

At Massanutten, full day ski school for kids starts at age 4.  In fact, they have a new program for 4-6 year olds who are only up for a morning.  The 90-min Advanced Beginner/Intermediate group lessons start at age 7.  I would guess that what Wisp is offering in terms of beginner lessons is comparable to that approach.

Families who want to start their kids before age 8 are quite different than most of the families I see around Massanutten.  Many of the parents or grandparents bringing kids do not ski and are not interested in learning.  They spend a weekend at Mnut instead of doing day trips to Liberty or Whitetail because they do other stuff at the resort together with the kids of all ages.  Usually only go to Mnut once a year, but often go annually at least until the kids are in high school.  There are plenty of older tweens and young teens in the never-ever lessons.  That’s the market that the Wisp 3-Free-to-Learn would love to tap into.

There are several states that have “ski free” passports for 4th and/or 5th graders.  Old enough to pick up skiing or boarding reasonably quickly but young enough that if the family gets hooked then there’s a good chance of them going for at least 4-5 years before at least some of the kids get involved with too many other activities.

As I think about it more, I actually don’t see this offer as targeting families.  Folks with kids in school are far too busy in the next couple weeks to fit in 3 days skiing at short notice.

If even 5-10 people get to Wisp three times before Christmas to take advantage of the offer, that would have to be considered a marketing success.  Means spending a weekend to get in 2 days, then another trip to get in the third day.  Pulling adults who live in DC away from Snowtime (Liberty, Whitetail, Roundtop) is never going to be easy.  But for skiing on a weekend, I assume lift lines are less of an issue at Wisp.

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