Ski hills and resorts in the Midwest understand that terrain parks are important to draw riders that aren’t content to cruise quarter-mile groomers all day. Whether it’s a commuter hill that attracts local kids, or the all-inclusive resorts that target vacation riders, these businesses know that they will lose ridership to competing locations if they don’t invest in building parks.
Building a park isn’t as simple as throwing a couple of rails down and calling it done (some hills might argue this point), it takes a creative park team that understands rider flow so that the features are well-designed and aren’t too close or poorly placed.
It’s unclear how much resorts in the Midwest spend on their terrain parks, but Mammoth Mountain in California once estimated that they spend $1 million per season building and maintaining their parks. While it’s unlikely that our Midwestern hills are investing that much, there’s no denying that snow making, grooming, and building out features is an expensive line on the operations budget.
Despite spending time, energy, and manpower building parks, most resorts fail to promote them. Riders rely on each other to get the scoop on what features are available, what the conditions are like, and often if the park is even open. Zack L., a snowboarder in Southeast Michigan, said that his best guess for the condition of local parks are based on the videos and pictures that he finds on Instagram from other riders.
Some ski areas offer webcams that face the terrain park, but often only a few features are visible and even those are hard to see. Other times, a resort may give a vague update that their park now has “8 features and 1 jump”. It’s nice to know that there’s something there, but it doesn’t promote the hard work and creativity of the park team.
In his article ‘Social Media 101’ Dave talked about the importance of social media for ski resorts, describing it as the main thing that a ski area can control — the message that it’s sending to their customer base. In this case, that message should be “Our park crew built a sick park for you, here it is, now come and get some!”
Ski resorts: You went through the cost and effort to build a terrain park. Show your customers what you have to offer, and get them excited to choose you over the other options. You should make it easy for customers to know ahead of time what the park builds look like, and this is not difficult to do. In this age of social media, you don’t need expensive web development to host fancy galleries, instead you can curate your own media on the resorts’ Facebook or Instagram pages.