Ski Magazine removes resort rankings, industry shrugs off the change
Every year, ski resorts wait to see if their slopes made the cut in Ski Magazine’s annual resort rankings. But when the publication hit shelves last month, resorts and skiers were surprised to see that no overall winner was crowned. Instead, multiple resorts were honored with accolades in specific categories.
Deer Valley Resort, which had remained in the top three of the magazine’s rankings of the best resorts for 20 years and was dubbed No. 1 multiple times, was given the best service award while Park City Mountain Resort won an editor’s choice for top ski town because of the surrounding city’s nightlife, dining options and alternative activities. After decades of resorts highlighting the accolades to attract guests, the impact of the shift is uncertain.
Jim Powell, vice president of marketing for the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said the organization has utilized the resorts’ top rankings in the past to persuade skiers to visit Park City. But, he said, those rankings seemed to be less critical to marketing efforts every year.
With the internet, there are more resources for skiers to browse resorts, so Ski Magazine is not “The bible of skiing” as it was years ago, Powell said.
“This isn’t maybe as important as it once was,” he said.
Plus, there are other organizations giving awards and ranking resorts. Emily Summers, spokesperson for Deer Valley Resort, referenced Deer Valley’s accolades in the World Ski Awards and USA Today’s top resort list when asked how the magazine’s ranking change might affect the resort’s marketing.
“It is a big change for a long-running tradition in the industry,” she said.
For about 30 years, Ski Magazine has surveyed its readers and let them decide the best resorts. Summers said these days, consumer reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Facebook speak just as loudly.
In some ways, she said the new format is more beneficial because it is more similar to a guide for prospective skiers and snowboarders than to a list. Readers can select a resort that best fits their needs. “I do think they still do a great job of calling out what makes each destination unique and interesting in the resort guides and write-ups and providing relevant information for people in the planning stage,” she said.
Jessica Miller, spokesperson for Park City Mountain Resort, said the resort was happy that the unique atmosphere of the city was honored.
Samantha Berman, content director of Ski Magazine, said the magazine revamped the rankings because the team wanted to be able to offer more specific advice and better answer the question, “Where should I ski this season?”
“By their nature, rankings assume that No. 1 works for everyone and No. 20 isn’t worth visiting. But we know that these days readers have their preferences and no one destination works for everyone,” she said.
She added that the publication also highlighted more resorts this year. Rather than naming the top 30, 67 resorts were recognized for various aspects.
She said there has been both positive and negative feedback about the change, which the magazine will take into account when presenting next year’s survey results.
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