Our view: This little ski area needs more marketing | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: This little ski area needs more marketing

At issue

Leveraging the success of free ski days at Howelsen Hill Ski Area

Our view

Turnout confirms there’s a market for modestly priced skiing downtown

The success of the latest in a series of free ski days, hosted by the city of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreational Services Department at Howelsen Hill Dec. 23, leads us to the conclusion that, without a doubt, there is demand for low-cost family Alpine skiing and snowboarding in the heart of downtown Steamboat.

Our view

Turnout confirms there’s a market for modestly priced skiing downtown

Parks and Rec reported that 486 people took part in the free ski day. We hope city officials captured the names and email addresses of all who took part in order to build a captive e-mail list and begin to do more to market the special asset that is the historic Howelsen Hill Ski Area.

This month’s impressive turnout included adult male snowboarders and families with youngsters in tow. There were fathers in work clothes intent on introducing their children to the sport that brought many of us here in the first place. There were even skiers at Howelsen conversing in several different European languages while lined up to claim their free ski passes.

The next step is to continue to build on the free ski days and gradually assemble a loyal following for the little ski area across the river from Steamboat’s historic commercial district.

Master’s Alpine racing has been a successful draw at Howelsen for years, but you shouldn’t have to be a hardcore ex-gate crasher to enjoy a nighttime event at Howelsen.

Would you pay $20 or $25 to make a few runs with your pals from the book club? Howelsen Hill should be the place.

Want to have a few giggles with a Nordic relay obstacle race on a full-moon night with hot cider to follow? The groomed track on the ball diamonds outside the Howelsen Lodge could be the go-to for that.

Realistically, the Dec. 23 free ski day event was successful, in part, because school-age children were on holiday break. But school is out in Routt County every weekend, and there must be a price point at which skiers and riders would continue to flock to Howelsen on winter weekends as they did during the Christmas break.

Parks and Rec could establish teen nights with live music in Olympian Hall, or invite local organizations to special nights. Is there any doubt the Young Professionals Network would show up in numbers if the city reached out with a special ticket price? What would it cost to book a 40th birthday party at Howelsen Hill, with skiing included for party guests?

It strikes us that the possibilities for social skiing events at Howelsen Hill are numerous.

We hope that Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreation John Overstreet will empower Marketing and Special Events Coordinator Emily Hines to give the community more successes such as the free skiing day at Howelsen.

And with ski industry public relations veteran Mike Lane on board as the city’s new communications manager, we suggest his wealth of ski industry knowledge and contacts be tapped for the same purpose.

It’s time to realize the full potential of Howelsen Hill Ski Area, the original heartbeat of Ski Town, USA.

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