Our View: What’s in a ski resort’s name?
We were encouraged this week when David Perry, president and chief operating officer of the new company formed by the Henry Crown Family and KSL to acquire Steamboat Ski Resort and the other Intrawest resorts, said the new corporate name won’t swallow up the identity of the individual resorts.
We assume that residents of all of those Intrawest resort communities, including nearby Winter Park, were likely paying close attention. The same would apply to our new sibling mountain communities of Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley in California, and Deer Valley in Utah.
“It’s not going to be a public-facing brand,” Perry said. “You’re not going to pull into Steamboat and see a sign that says, ‘Welcome to Steamboat, part of the XYZ Company.’”
If there is anything that is certain about mountain communities, it’s that they all have their own charming qualities and quirks that define them. And their residents are fiercely proud of their cultures. The XYZ Company, we are not.
Another thing we would like to think that we “are not,” is naive, so we’ll point out that, “New Company” knows well that the individuality of each mountain town in its quiver of ski resorts is the source of its brand equity. Each resort’s marketing department has invested heavily in its brand over time. To give up the emotional connection their customers have formed to that brand embedded in a unique mountain town would be a mistake.
To be fair, one of the ways most mountain resorts invest in their brands is to support their community’s institutions. Steamboat Ski Resort’s support of, and involvement with, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is an example of a sincere effort to support a community institution, which has a direct link to “Ski Town USA.” It’s a brand that is predicated upon the dozens and dozens of Winter Olympians the Winter Sports Club has nurtured, with many of the early athletes coming from humble ranching families.
At Mammoth, they like to say, ”Less Oxygen, More Air.” Deer Valley pampers its guests with midday grooming, Aspen attracts wealthy intellectuals (at least that’s the stereotype) to gaze upon 14ers from the chairlifts. And Winter Park stakes its claim to being the oldest continually operating ski area in Colorado (wait a minute, isn’t that Howelsen HIll?).
The point is that “New Company” knows better than to attempt to consume the Steamboat brand, but instead, cultivate it, and we love that approach.
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