how the little guys compete
Interesting article from SAM on how little ski areas compete with the big guys.http://www.saminfo.com/issues/article.php?tid=3680
I can see how some of our local areas employ these tactics, although I don't think any use Liftopia yet. Liftopia is a pretty attractive discount lift ticket service for the consumer and apparently allows great flexibility/manipulation by participating ski areas to offer far-in-advance as well as last-minute lift ticket deals to folks making an electronic pre-purchase.
Pretty amazing. Still, you have to deliver a product and in many instances, employees have to be scrupulously trained in customer service.
Wildcat provides awesome skiing, even though it doesn't have the atmosphere, luxury or cachet of Stratton. Yet it delivers a superior product.
In the Mid Atlantic, Snowshoe is the queen of resorts. But customer service is generally lacking, perhaps due to rapid employee turnover, lack of training, or lack of senior management focus. Especially in food and beverage. In many instances, I have had a better service experience at Liberty.
I've still never been to Liberty, and my experience at Whitetail wasn't inclined to send me rushing back there. Out of the five Mid-Atlantic areas I've skied (Wintergreen, Hidden Valley, Seven Springs, Whitetail... I won't count Bryce because I've only grass skied there), Hidden Valley was my favorite. Great customer service and a good (and soon to be better) product.
The local hill out here (Snow Creek) has a pretty big racing program. Also- I think the smaller ski areas draw in the school crowds, boy scouts, groups like that, who want a fairly regular activity but don't want to drive further (or pay more) to get it.