In order to increase sales, NZSki needed to get people planning for their winter skiing holiday while they were still at the beach enjoying the hot summer sun. Not only that, they also needed to convince holidaymakers to part with a substantial amount of money after the expensive Christmas holiday season.
The Early Bird Sale is a convention within the ski industry, where prices are dropped early in the year and cheaper passes become available. NZSki (which offers Mt. Hutt, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables) also competes with several other ski destinations in New Zealand and further afield at the time of the sale.
This problem is an annual commercial challenge for the business. Much like large retail stores get 60-70 percent of their business in the months of December and January, NZSki’s mountains derive most of their revenue during the winter months.
The Early Bird Sale is vital, not only to help with cash flow but also because there is a correlation between sales during this period and total visitation over the season. The initiative is also very important for forecasting staffing.
The total team during the off-season is about 40 employees, this swells to over 1,200 during the winter season. If NZSki gets its staffing levels wrong, it results in it either being under-staffed or, equally as bad, over-staffed, resulting in its financial results suffering.
NZSki needed to kick into action to promote its Early Bird passes for 2018, and with a budget too small to afford an agency, it took the unique approach of creating its own internal agency instead.
The team of 10 was made up of two art directors, a creative director, a PR manager, two marketing managers and three media coordinators. Its whole campaign was executed by this team and with a very limited budget.
Convincing people of the financial benefit of buying early wasn't going to be enough. The human brain can also be lazy, using instincts and emotions to help take shortcuts. So, NZSki incorporated behavioural economics principles to help its customers find those shortcuts.
The team decided to create three unique brand positions for the mountains. It studied their history, anecdotes, geography, trails, reputations, individual characteristics and perceptions.
It then took what it had learned to distil it into a positioning and a line for each mountain. For Mt. Hutt ‘Your Mountain is Calling’, for Coronet Peak ‘Good Times Since 1947’ and for The Remarkables ‘Find Your Freedom’.
NZSki then set to work on pushing out these positionings through a wide variety of mediums including cinema, social, digital, online (via newly created, dedicated websites for each mountain range), video, YouTube, EDMs, radio, outdoor and through a brand partnership with Torpedo 7.
Despite the fact NZSki had a small budget, and every dollar spent was risky, its enormous internal effort paid off.
The total number of ‘3 Peak’ season passes sold increased by 14.9 percent; while the total number of Mt. Hutt season passes sold increased by 10 percent. This gave a combined total of 12.7 percent more season passes sold during the campaign than in 2017. This was impressive, considering NZSki had increased the prices for both the '3 Peak' pass and the Mt. Hutt pass in 2018, yet still beat its targets.
It also had an 11.2 percent increase in website transactions and a 16.2 per cent increase in online revenue. The overall revenue from the campaign far surpassed the amount NZSki spent on it, with the company receiving $39.50 in sales for every dollar it spent.
Aside from sales, its web traffic increased 56.9 percent compared to the 2017 Early Bird campaign and the campaign material received over 933,000 views on YouTube.