2023 Marketing Award Winners
Congratulations to the Marketing Award finalists in every category. Winners are highlighted in bold. Stay tuned for more info on their programs here!
Best Overall Campaign (over 500k visits)
- Palisades Tahoe, CA
A big snow year means all-hands-on-deck for managing guest expectations and closed roads and power outages and the question of where you’re going to put the seven feet you just plowed from your parking lot... and then marketers still have to reinforce branding values and key messages. Throw in a much-anticipated, years-in-the-making, one-of-a-kind aerial ropeway, and you’ve not only got pile of snow but piles of stories to tell. The Palisades marketing team, led by Matt Peterson, was able to put together a campaign with strong brand recognition, adept storytelling and pure fun. Well-executed in a big year, and very much in line with the historical “feel” of the place.
- SkiBig3, AB
If you haven’t been to Banff, you might think the stunning visuals in their latest campaign are close-cropped, overly corrected, or even AI-generated. But, like SkiBig3 implores: “Yes, this is a real place.” The latest SkiBig3 (comprised of Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine and Mt. Norquay) campaign showed visitors the best of Banff, from the expansive views of the rugged Canadian Rockies to the fun of skiing (no matter what kind of skier or rider you are). They achieved impressive engagement in a below-average snow year, demonstrating that the foundational magic of a place transcends the ephemeral weather.
- Steamboat Ski & Resort, CO
Steamboat has long leaned on its classic Western roots for its brand identity, and rightfully so – it resonates with people, especially once they visit. Judges commented on how smart it was to bring the focus back to the community’s roots in a time of transformational change for the resort. We’re also suckers for poetry and beautiful copy we wish we’d written. This campaign delivered the emotion and aesthetic of a type of freedom you can only find in the Rockies, connecting its rich history to the resort’s bright future.
- Winter Park Resort, CO
Ultimately, what set Winter Park above the rest was the breadth of experiences they highlighted in their Venture Out campaign. In one judge’s words: “[the campaign] still includes the big mountain aspirational while... leveling up the other wonderful parts of this industry that have been undervalued and undershared for too long.”
Whether you came to Winter Park for the skiing, the views, the tubing or the après, every person and every family was welcomed to Venture Out. Winter Park made it so that folks could truly see themselves being on the mountain - and people responded by showing up. Kudos to their team for the perfect blend of creativity, inclusion and results.
Best Overall Campaign (under 500k visits)
- Beech Mountain Resort, NC
Beech and partner Mountain True demonstrated the ski area’s rising commitment to sustainability, and asked for the community's help to make Beech and its natural environment better. Values-based marketing may not be new, but it is inspiring to see it implemented strongly and effectively at a small ski area in the Southeast.
One of our judges said it best: “Fewer things are as impressive as dedicating your marketing budget towards a common good, internal education and using your platform to inspire action. Selfless acts like this deserve great praise and great reward.”
- Saddleback Maine, ME
Welcome back, Saddleback! It’s not only great to see your lifts spinning, but it's wonderful to know exactly who you are. You came back lively, with a strong sense of community, and a little bit of a cheeky approach to your social media marketing. It’s one thing to generate consistent branding collateral and strong media buys, but it’s another thing to do that when you’re just coming back on the scene. As one of our judges said, “it’s a great foundational campaign that feels sophisticated” with strong creative.
- Schweitzer, ID
Schweitzer is hard to spell but fun to say. So what did their marketing team do? Create their own word that’s hard to spell – Weschud – but make it fun to say as in “Weschud [“we should”] go skiing!” Not many ski areas can make up their own word and have it stick - but the creative team at Schweitzer did just that. By promoting on its unique location (gorgeous) and vibe (so fun it radiates from their social media), the resort was able to sell the best parts of the ski experience and convince a whole new market to make the mountain their own. And the metrics they shared demonstrated just how strong the campaign was, significantly increasing traffic from their target market.
- Windham Mountain, NY
Windham's latest campaign is an aesthetically lovely invitation to an elevated way of life. They appealed to their busy urban drive market to “Come up for air,” a phrase that resonated doubly in a post-pandemic world. In addition to noting its creativity, judges called this campaign consistent, compelling, and inclusive. And despite the Northeast’s challenging weather this season, Windham recorded their most successful marketing campaign to date. We’re looking forward to seeing the Windham team build on this strong brand foundation in the coming seasons.
Best Use of Social Media
- Crotched Mountain Ski & Ride, NH
When under new ownership, sometimes it takes a minute for a ski area to find a balance between what was and what works – and then communicate that to its tight-knit community. Crotched held its own amongst marketing behemoths in this category because they truly won the public perception battle with their homegrown, wildly funny video series. This small mountain showed big personality by breaking away from the cookie-cutter response to community concerns, doing so in an authentic, transparent and, most importantly, pretty darn entertaining way.
- Stevens Pass, WA
Building a skilled and diverse workforce is one of the ski industry’s greatest challenges and opportunities. And part of successful staffing is making sure that people are integrated into the local community. Stevens Pass went back to its community foundation to highlight the folks who make the ski resort run, and in doing so, built organic engagement with their guests. It’s important to demonstrate that there are real people behind the operation, and that it’s possible to have a fulfilling career in the ski industry.
- Palisades Tahoe, CA
Make a cool, two-minute video that’s equally stoke and service-y. Now, do that three times a week, consistently, during one of your biggest seasons ever. That’s what the Palisades team did when they created the Palisades Tahoe Surf Report, an insider's look at snow conditions, weather, terrain highlights and tips to make the best of your day on the hill. The Surf Report was a huge value-add for onsite guests, with an average reach of nearly 12,000 per video, and leveraging the professional clout and big personalities of the Palisades community to help folks plan their day. Not only did you feel like an insider getting the beta from local legends like Jonny Moseley and Amie Engerbretson, but you got to ski like them, too.
Best Use of Video
- Beech Mountain Resort, NC: Leading Ladies
Beech Mountain’s video series, Leading Ladies, once again elevated ski area marketing beyond sales to storytelling. In order to foster female participation in snowsports, Beech told the stories of local women in the community who have found a metaphorical home in the ski area. One of our judges exclaimed, “Ok Beech! Excellent use of your platform again, not just talking about progress, but showing how much is already in motion.” The resort also increased their social media engagement and made positive impacts to these local community members.
- Big SNOW American Dream, NJ: Big the Yeti
Many ski areas manage a YouTube channel, but when you’ve got “big” in your name, you take production a step further and create your own animation studio. The Big SNOW team created colorful characters and age-appropriate storylines guided by education data and best practices. The videos talk about big concepts like sustainability and safety in a way that connects with kids without talking down to them. A judge summed it up perfectly: “YES! They get what this category is for. Love the story behind this [and] that they had the talent on their team already. What a great commitment to branding while going way above and beyond by being educational. Incredible results, very well done.”
- Schweitzer, ID: Chairlift Therapy
Schweitzer combined two things most Americans could benefit from – talk therapy and spending time on a chairlift – and inspired Seattleites to travel a little further to explore the Idaho ski area. The “Chairlift Therapy” video campaign allowed for skiers to voice their complaints with their current winter sports relationships (without ever disparaging another ski area in the process), and then let them picture the things they loved about skiing and riding. That’s something that connects all who are already embedded in this sport – we can close our eyes and have a clear picture of our perfect day in the mountains. And Schweitzer let these patients know they could find the cure for their winter blues just over the state line.
Mountains Are For Everyone
New for the 2022-23 season, this award recognizes the ski area or resort group that has made inclusion a priority for guests and/or staff. These events, campaigns or programs should incorporate authentic representation and messaging that make clear that mountains are for everyone. Entries were evaluated on their creativity, problem-solving, the existence of meaningful education and action, and community impact.
- Trollhaugen Winter Recreation Area, WI
Small actions – and small mountains – can have big impacts. It’s why we need to shout out the team at Trollhaugen for fostering an inclusive mountain community through targeted events. Building on the success of their “Take the Rake” program (designed to encourage more women to get involved in constructing terrain parks – now in its second season), Trollhaugen delivered “DUH. The event.” Hosted in conjunction with Snowboy and the Pink Dollar Po$$y, this two-day rail jam focused on bringing LGBTQ+ youth and allies to the slopes. It drew attention from local media and on social media. Trollhaugen’s Marsha Hovey said, “We are really proud of the work we do here at our tiny but mighty hill, and we hope we can inspire other ski areas to move our industry forward together.”
- Crystal Mountain, MI
Crystal Mountain, MI, has long been a force for growth in winter sports, and its Crystal Community Ski Club (CCSC) is making headway not only getting kids to the slopes, but potentially into snow sports careers. The club’s commitment to break down barriers and build bridges through shared experiences on and off the slopes has allowed for over 860 kids to participate across 12 programs. While some kids join race teams, CCSC doesn’t limit participation to competition – the group also focuses on fun and friendships, even pairing newcomers with kids in the Junior Instructors program to learn more about how they can stay involved in skiing and riding for life.
- Mountain Creek Resort, NJ
Mountain Creek’s location lends itself to diversity, and they’ve long been proponents of getting youth on snow. But the team at the ski area pushed beyond fostering inclusion to address one of the preeminent challenges children face today: mental wellness and coping skills in an increasingly disconnected digital culture. Mountain Creek partnered with the Lakeland Hills YMCA and the Mental Health Association to create a program for local youth called GRIT ‘n Snow. Kids from all backgrounds, including those who received scholarships through Mountain Creek and its partners to attend, were empowered to learn a new sport while also receiving age-appropriate resources for mental and emotional wellness. This powerful program that teaches life skills beyond simply sliding on snow provides a blueprint that can be replicated by resorts across the country.