Thursday, May 28, 2020

TA strikes out with Cyber Monday deals but steps back up to the plate

Sweetening the deal the second time around

By Mark Reaman

Despite what could be described as a swing and a miss, the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association (TA) is getting back up to the plate to promote some winter air, lodging, and ski deals.

TA executive director John Norton reported that recent efforts to sell low-cost ski season deals at both ends of the valley fell flat just after Thanksgiving. Deals were geared toward new potential clients in the regions with flights directly to Gunnison: Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles. 

“It was a very disappointing first effort,” Norton said. “We had some good deals and sold a few Gunnison Getaway packages but not much else. We are retooling some of the offers and will get back on it.”

In Los Angeles, the TA offered a $363 Fly, Ski, and Stay package including round-trip airfare and three nights/three days of lodging and skiing for folks using the Gunnison Getaway.

In other markets, the offer included either a $200 or a $100 airfare credit combined with a four-night/three-day stay and ski package starting as low as $230 per person.

Norton said the TA hoped to book about 800 such deals. They met barely 2 percent of that expectation.

Starting next Monday, the TA will offer a deal in all the direct markets built on a $99 round-trip airfare. The dealsa will be advertised with geo-targeted banner ads and social media promotions. Unlike the first promotion, there will not be an arbitrary end date with this second promotion.

In an effort to see why the post-Thanksgiving sales didn’t generate business, Norton said, the TA would reach out to some of the people who had seen the deal, taken the time to make the call to find out more about the deal, but then didn’t book the deal.

“When there was a branding study done for the valley 10 years ago and people were asked why they didn’t come here, they said they had no idea what the place was about. The valley was a complete blank slate for those who hadn’t visited,” Norton said.

“We had a good click rate on the messages,” Norton continued. “It was two to six times the national average and we got a lot of phone calls but we just didn’t close them.”

Norton said the preliminary information taken from the phone call surveys to those who didn’t finish the deal showed that the deal just wasn’t quite sweet enough in the first round to get people to book.

So the new deals will get a big push soon and Norton says they all have great value.

RTA air consultant Kent Myers noted at this time last year there was a lot of snow in Colorado and everything was open. California was warm and dry. This year, California is getting hammered with big snow and that could be a factor.

“If this second effort doesn’t produce good results, we’ll try something else,” promised Norton.

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