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Activating Year-Round at Vacation Destinations
1/28/2010

Activating Year-Round at Vacation Destinations

By Jessica Heasley. Published on January 28, 2010
Originally published in Event Marketer

Tourist destinations can be attractive marketing venues especially when they’re home to tournaments festivals and annual events that boost attendance.
But executing events at resorts requires a hands-on year-round commitment even if the focus is making connections during high-traffic season. Keeping things as fresh and creative off-peak is as important as during the main events. Whether it’s snow bunnies or snowbirds you’re targeting here are six ways to make it cook.

  1. Suit Yourself. Don’t be afriad to mix things up to ensure you’re getting the right strategic equity out of the deal. John Paul Mitchell Systems got Bear Mountain Resort to change the start time—and during one of the key events of March’s Big Bear Freeski Open competition which the haircare products brand title-sponsors. Paul Mitchell moved the half-pipe contest to the evening and the bottom of the mountain to better capitalize on a non-skier audience. The tactic created more exposure for the brand and a more entertaining experience that didn’t compete with the day-time ski activities (Agency: rEvolution Chicago).
    “This gives people something to come back to at the end of the day ” says Julie Solwold vp-sports marketing at the haircare product company.

  2. Amp Up the Creative. To activate its sponsorship of Vail Resorts Volvo gutted an XC90 crossover and put projectors inside to create a mobile movie theater then handed over the keys to the locals.
    The Vail Valley Foundation parks the vehicle around town on its own schedule and projects videos and slides promoting community activities and upcoming events. As part of the deal Volvo gets to run a defined number of ads. “They control what’s on the screens ” says Jay Hamill Volvo’s manager-consumer marketing. “But the benefit for us is that it’s a real live car people can interact with.”
    Amstel Light at the Sundance Film Festival eschewed the traditional beer garden activation for a fun but upscale European-flavored après ski lodge experience complete with a pack of Saint Bernards wearing branded kegs and Swiss-style alpinhornists playing their horns (Agency: Mirrorball New York City). “It really engages the guests ” says Heather Hall marketing manager at Park City Mountain Resort in Park City Utah.

  3. Spread Out. As resort communities evolve so should the activation that takes place there. Think of creative ways to tie activation to off-season activities or the growth of the cities and towns where the resorts are located. Case in point: Park City Mountain building a handful of new golf courses is trying to encourage Amstel and other sponsors to leverage summer activities in addition to winter sports.

  4. Be a Brand of the People. Don’t forget to hang out at vacation resorts. Tough gig right? “What’s key for us is developing a personal relationship with general managers and concierges at resort properties ” Hamill says. “We do that by going there and being there. There’s no middle person.”
    Volvo supports several local charitable endeavors in Vail every year. The automaker sells a vehicle at a reduced price to a Vail hospital which auctions it off as a fundraiser. The result? “We become even more endeared to local community leaders so when we need or want something it’s a lot easier because they can put a face to the project ” Hamill says.

  5. Be a Problem Solver. Last year Vail faced an unsightly construction problem when a high-profile part of the town’s downtown retail area was under construction. So the automaker leveraged its sponsorship of Legoland to transform the construction zone into a family fun zone. The area features a Volvo barricade policemen and construction workers—all made from Legos and a play area for kids. “It was a chance to do something in an interesting way that has a marketing platform behind it ” Hamill says.

  6. Put Down Roots. Paul Mitchell’s home office is in Los Angeles so the Big Bear event is a big hair event for the company. To boost the event’s local appeal among its target the company changed the event name from the Paul Mitchell American Free Ski tour to the Paul Mitchell Big Bear Freeski Open.
    “It helps us solidify the base of support that we have in the area especially with all the new Paul Mitchell Schools we’re opening in Southern California ” says Solwold. “We’ve got that base of 20-year-olds that understand free skiing and skateboarding. That’s the next generation of teachers for our company.”
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