marketing awards logoThe NSAA Marketing Awards are presented annually to ski resorts across the country for their successful sales & marketing programs that help grow the sports of skiing and snowboarding.  These awards are designed to benefit the entire industry by raising overall marketing standards and promoting sustained growth of the industry through national recognition of the best in ski area marketing campaigns.

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.

Category Descriptions

Understanding each award category will help you create the best application possible. Familiarize yourself with the 2023 Marketing Award categories here.

Best Overall Marketing Campaign (up to 2 winners)
These creative and on-brand campaigns break the barriers between company and community, and represent the most creative and effective efforts. 

Best Video
Snowsports are exceptionally well-positioned for visual media, with the power to evoke emotion, inspire action and tell the stories of our mountains and people through video.

Best Use of Social Media
Specifically designed for social media platforms, these campaigns effectively cut through the noise to connect with a ski area’s online community.

Best Lapsed Skier/Rider Campaign
The most compelling programs that bring guests who haven't participated in over two years back to snowsports.

Mountains Are for Everyone Award
This new 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 will be evaluated on their creativity, problem-solving, the existence of meaningful education and action, and overall effectiveness at making all who wish to participate in snowsports feel welcome.

Past Marketing Award Winners

2022 Marketing Awards

Looking for inspiration? Read about last year's award-winning programs and finalists to understand the caliber of a winning project. Also view the 2022 NSAA Awards Ceremony that took place in the Country Music Awards Theatre in Nashville, TN.

Best Overall Marketing Campaign

  • Winner: Jay Peak Resort, Vermont
    • Jay Peak Resort is mutually and infinitely devoted to its staff and guests, and that is on display with this colorful, comprehensive and cohesive campaign across print, video, radio and social media. Using a well-thought-out messaging formula that involved rhyming couplets, Jay Peak drove solid results with its Devoted campaign: the strongest ever season pass sales, a rebound in lodging and vacation bookings that exceeded expectations by more than 50%, and skier visits that were on track to contribute 30% more revenue than budgeted. Judges appreciated that the ski area recognized the realities outside of their campaign, like pent-up demand, that contributed to their success. Also impressive were Jay Peak’s devoted events, and among them, a clever conquesting offering that invites skiers and riders with competing passes to a discounted day on the mountain when their passes were likely to be blacked out. Jay has been doing this for a while, but the discount was even deeper this season — and 500 “Other Mountain Passholders” took them up on this for MLK weekend alone.
  • Boreal/Woodward, California
    • For its thoughtful and thorough Come Home to the Mountain campaign, Boreal/Woodward utilized an impressive number of partners with a big investment in marketing. The ski area’s clean and consistent messaging promotes inclusivity and accessibly while evoking personal adventure and fun. Creating a sense of home at the mountain is a smart play on comfort and nostalgia, and this campaign’s visuals offered a nice callback to imagery and messaging from seasons past. Judges especially appreciated the storytelling videos, the room for of-the-minute announcements — like a lift closure — amidst the structured campaign, and that diversity was on display, with representation across different races, genders, ages, and a targeting of lower household income ranges and new participants. With this campaign, it’s clear that Boreal has a strong command of its audience, segmented into three straightforward groups. This is an example of a well-planned and executed marketing campaign done to the max.
  • Mountain Creek Resort, New Jersey
    • This season, Mountain Creek welcomed its newest team member, Vern the cartoon bear mascot, who is all about living life outdoors. And what a productive new employee he was: Vern managed to create a welcoming vibe for families, give a nod to Big the yeti over at Big SNOW American Dream — creating cohesion between resorts with shared ownership — and help the ski area drive social growth and revenue. The judges liked how well integrated Vern was throughout Mountain Creek’s marketing this season, especially on its signage, and appreciated the Vernon township reference, and playful and educational narrative about black bears being indigenous to the New Jersey area — but, as one of them, Vern can’t hibernate because there’s too much fun to be had on the mountain.
      Although submitted for a different category, judges felt that another Mountain Creek campaign was deserving of recognition with a fresh spin on a visual that’s unique to their local market. The ski area found itself with a sold out pass product and a lot of digital billboard space to fill. What they came up with was a quipy, on-the-fly parody on a locally relevant and well-known billboard.

Most Unique Marketing Campaign

  • Winner: Snowbird, Utah
    • Snowbird knocked its Snowbird Power Systems marketing campaign out of the park with branding that riffed on the wings of the original logo, reorganized to create something familiar yet fresh. The new brand delivers a unique and sustainable message that is so well integrated into Snowbird’s strong, existing marketing with enticing SWAG, visuals, an engaging video and presence across the web, social and email. The campaign also effectively anchored the complex cogeneration process to well-known ski area amenities like the Tram and the Cliff Lodge. Notably, the Snowbird Power Systems campaign simplified the process to foster an easy understanding of its new cogeneration facility — an important sustainability topic that has the potential to come off complicated and dry to the general public — its history and how it’s connected to the ski area.
  • Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania
    • Shawnee Mountain impressed this season by stepping up to fill a void in passport programming, implementing the Snow Pass — the ski area’s own fourth grade program for area schools (and homeschooled kids) during 2021–22. Shawnee incorporated some clever tactics to garner more than 1,000 registrants and an attributed revenue of more than $18,000 for tangential programs it marketed with the Snow Pass to make skiing more accessible for the entire family. The ski area required that each fourth grader be accompanied by a paying adult, engaging parents along with their kids. Shawnee also targeted schools and teachers, instead of just their guest database, to spread the message far and wide to potential newcomers.
  • Trollhaugen, Wisconsin
    • Trollhaugen’s Take the Rake campaign combined inclusivity and fun to influence change in one of the most male-dominated segments of ski industry ops. This preseason terrain park, built entirely by women, drew talent from ski areas across the country and paid them to participate, multiplying the impact and inspiration beyond Trollhaugen to set an example industry wide. Judges agreed that this first-of-its-kind, inclusive opportunity needs to be more prevalent in skiing and riding; perhaps the most appreciated component of Take the Rake was its potential to be replicated at other areas, within other departments or during subsequent years. Even better than sparking more events just like it? In the words of Marsha Hovey, Trollhaugen’s marketing director, “That it just becomes commonplace to have women in the room when parks are being designed.”

Best Social Media Campaign

  • Winner: Seven Springs, Pennsylvania
    • Everyone with a social media account and even an inkling of interest in skiing saw this one: A woman fights to descend slippery stairs in ski boots at Seven Springs, stealing the show from what was otherwise a relatively standard daily snow report update. With more than 11 million views on Twitter, close to 130,000 views on Instagram and more than a half million views on Facebook, the struggling skier (aptly named Mrs. Bean) video brought the small ski area some big attention. Seven Springs even managed to keep that momentum going for the Mrs. Bean videos that followed. Judges loved this relatable and believable video, and many kudos go out to the actress for selling the struggle, which could have easily slid into over-the-top territory. While one or two judges thought that this could be considered insensitive or a cheap shot, the fact that it was staged and so effective in the current sphere of viral marketing gets the ski area a pass — as does the rest of this brilliant video campaign.
  • Mountain Creek Resort, New Jersey
    • Mountain Creek used some fun and proven strategies this season to grow its social media following and reach (Instagram 22%, 63% and Facebook 5%, 32%, respectively), as well as implement a new channel, TikTok. By keeping a pulse on pop culture references, the ski area carried on its tradition of entertaining and informing through the timely use of memes, incorporating their new mascot, Vern, into the mix for a 31% increase in Facebook and Instagram reach. Mountain Creek also excels at inspiring and promoting UGC through its own posts and stories for a successful and self-sustaining feedback loop where guests feel recognized and motivated to keep mentioning the ski area. Through a close partnership between the social media and hospitality teams, Mountain Creek was also able to drive guest traffic and revenue this season through F&B and lodging campaigns, with longer visits and increased dining revenues as a result.
  • Wild Mountain, Minnesota
    • Wild Mountain went full send on TikTok with a committed Wild Stallions campaign that could only be found on this relatively new platform. Judges liked the interesting mix of UGC, old movies, gifs and spoofs on pop culture, and appreciated how effectively Wild Mountain drove engagement and built an audience there — the 10-part series grew its following to 2,682 (larger than many of the industry’s biggest players) and received 35,300 likes in just a few months, with 127,000 views in just the last 60 days before submitting their application. Using free footage allowed the ski area to keep costs very minimal, creating awareness and engagement around Wild Mountain’s terrain park for a total spend of $1,788 (video editing and social media promotion).

Best Use of Video

  • Winner: Granite Peak Ski Area, Wisconsin
    • Granite Peak set out to highlight its history without seeming old or stodgy. The ski area absolutely delivered with punny videos featuring a fairytale spin for a clear and consistent theme that highlights all areas of the hill. The Legends of Granite Peak series was entertaining and informative with clean graphics and production value, making for a fun, creative campaign that contributed to some solid season pass growth in both revenue and units sold. With characters like Little Shred Riding Hood and Senderella, who had a ball at Granite Peak (even if she never put her goggles down), and lines like “once upon a pine,” judges thought the clever videos showcased well-developed archetypes that represented unique attributes and diversity of terrain across the ski area, from glades and the terrain park to night skiing. One judge had perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to an ad campaign: “It made me want to visit.”
  • Alta Ski Area, Utah
    • From Alta’s well-done, highly engaging and educational Steeped in Tradition video series comes an episode covering the phenomenon known as Interlodge. In this video, the ski area takes the viewer through a visual tour that showcases the meaning of the term with footage from last year’s longest Interlodge lockdown event ever, as well as some historical Interlodge happenings and behind the scenes of what makes Little Cottonwood Canyon skiing so special and deserving of respect. Judges appreciated the solid storytelling and editing along with the homage to the past. Alta also did a great job creating different, but all compelling, cuts for this video with several trailers and was smart to work with partners on distribution to garner 125,000 video views in just over a month. Kudos are also in order for the snow safety professionals and the staff who manage guests during Interlodge.
  • Trollhaugen, Wisconsin
    • From a question about why more women aren’t involved in terrain park builds at ski areas to an event where women made up the entire crew instead of being the token member, Trollhaugen’s Take the Rake campaign combined inclusivity and fun to influence change in one of the most male-dominated segments of ski industry ops. This preseason terrain park, built entirely by women, drew talent from ski areas across the country and paid them to participate, multiplying the impact and inspiration beyond Trollhaugen to set an example industry wide. The video component of this campaign was especially impressive as it showcased the build process and the women and sponsors involved, as well as the creative features and riding styles coming out of the final product.

Thank you to our gracious sponsor of the 2022 Marketing Awards, Doppelmayr.