Chamber/Bureau’s marketing efforts aim for new visitors
With one personal story, Jim Powell encapsulates the challenges the Park City Chamber/Bureau faces in marketing Park City as a premier ski destination.
Powell, who took over last fall as the Chamber/Bureau’s vice president of marketing, grew up in Michigan with a friend who skis devoutly in Aspen, Colorado. Powell has been extolling the virtues of Park City to him for nearly a decade, but the friend’s allegiances remain unchanged.
“I still haven’t been able to get him here,” he said. “But why can’t I? It’s because he doesn’t think he can find the lodging properties, the nightlife that he’s getting in Aspen.”
That, Powell said, illustrates the fact that people who have never visited Park City harbor all sorts of misconceptions. He reeled off the greatest hits: You can’t get a drink here; the mountains are low; there isn’t enough snow; it’s a Podunk town.
The Chamber/Bureau’s marketing plan for the 2016-2017 ski season is about enlightening those people. The campaign, dubbed “Yes. All that,” is a continuation of last season’s message and aims to show potential visitors what Park City is really like. The bet is that, if you can convince them to come once, they’ll be eager to come back for more.
“Once they experience getting off that plane in Salt Lake City, the drive up here, the ski-in, ski-out property they’ve just checked into and the quality of the ski product, that really does sell itself,” said Powell, who previously served as marketing director for Canyons Resort and Snowbird Resort. “That is key. But how do you get those skiers who are typically going to Colorado or to California or Montana and other places to change their pattern and come here?”
The answer, Powell and the Chamber/Bureau’s marketing council believes, lies in the 30-second television spots the Chamber/Bureau will blast through four of the town’s largest media markets, and in the digital and print ads that will flood the market. The “Yes. All that” campaign attempts to show people that Park City has two world-class ski resorts, but also boasts hundreds of restaurants, a bustling nightlife and a friendly community eager to welcome visitors.
To hammer that message home, the Chamber/Bureau is revamping the look and feel of the campaign with footage it gathered during last ski season.
“We’re going to be making them stronger and more magical, as it were,” he said. “That’s one of the important things we’re doing.”
Another change is that the Chamber/Bureau will be ramping up its digital advertising efforts, which Powell said had been lacking in the past. Being able to target specific audiences and measure how many people the campaign is reaching are the primary benefits of going digital. But it offers another opportunity, as well: the chance to reach cord-cutters with spots on platforms such as Hulu and Pandora.
“There are plenty of people out there who are unplugging,” he said. “We know the market is shifting there. Now we have the ability to target a little bit better there.”
In order to invest in digital, the Chamber/Bureau is cutting back on television advertising, going from five markets to four. The Chamber/Bureau is dropping Atlanta and Washington, D.C., retaining a heavy presence in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago and adding a new market, San Francisco.
Powell said the Bay Area is fertile ground because of its large population base of skiers and snowboarders, a high average household income and direct flights that run to and from Salt Lake City throughout the day. The Chamber/Bureau is betting Park City will be a more attractive destination than Lake Tahoe, the ski town that’s closest to San Francisco — in proximity, at least.
“It takes longer to get to Lake Tahoe than it does to get on a plane and come here,” Powell said.
Coordinating the television ad buys in San Francisco with the Utah Office of Tourism, which Powell said is also targeting the city, could expand the reach of the campaign. Chamber/Bureau ads could appear on some channels, while spots from the Utah Office of Tourism could run on others. The effect would be persuasive.
“With both of us cornering that message in that market, they’re going to hear Utah and they’re going to hear Park City,” he said. “And in a lot of ways, Utah equals Park City and Park City equals Utah.”
The Chamber/Bureau is also beginning to develop other forms of content it can tell the story of Park City through. Its social media and content specialist — a newly created position — is tasked with creating things such as videos and listicles, then blasting them through social media and the internet to reach a new kind of demographic.
“If you look at our website right now during the summer, we’ve been working really hard to do more and more of that,” he said. “It’s something we’re probably a couple years behind at, but we’re going to get there.”
Timing is the final crucial aspect of the marketing plan. In the past, the Chamber/Bureau has devoted most of its resources to a big push near the start of ski season. This year, it intends to target March and April, a period in which Park City has lagged behind its competitors.
“We’ve got 45 days, from the beginning of March until the resorts close,” Powell said, “a real fat sweet spot we can go after to drive business.”
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