Aspen Skiing Co., partners shake the tree to spur business |

Aspen Skiing Co., partners shake the tree to spur business

Scott CondonAspen correspondent

ASPEN, Colorado The Aspen Skiing Co. and its major marketing partners said Monday they are taking unprecedented steps to spur business in this challenging season.The Skico unveiled a special promotion called Free Flight, Free Night, Free Day that offers a free flight on Frontier Airlines when two flights are purchased, an extra night of lodging when four nights are purchased, and a free lift ticket when four days are purchased.Were shaking what trees we can, Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said.The promotion can pare $1,000 off the cost of the average trip, according to the Skico. The offer is good through the end of the season.An earlier promotion with Frontier featured free travel for children, but the restrictions that applied generated limited business. This new promotion is open to adults and all of Frontiers markets.In addition, Skico and its partners already had a package offer cooking with 47 North American tour operators ranging from Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz to local entities and Stay Aspen-Snowmass. The Perfect Storm Package offers lodging, lift ticket and equipment rental discounts when purchased by Feb. 19. Buyers also get 10 percent discounts at some on-mountain restaurants, 15 percent discounts on two adult group ski school lessons and 25 percent off retail purchases at Skicos Four Mountain Sports and D&E stores.This seasons promotions are unprecedented in their scope, said Jeanne Mackowski, Skico vice president of marketing. Skico and its partners typically market specific segments of the ski season. Season-long promotions like the two being marketed now are rare if not unprecedented, she said.With three months left in the season we are hitting the marketplace in a big way with great deals, Mackowski said.Skico officials earlier forecasted lift ticket sales to drop between 5 and 15 percent this season compared to 2007-08. The marketing efforts are needed to limit the loss to the lower end of the range.Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central reservations agency, said consumers are clearly responding to special promotions this year. Wily travelers are aware that business is down at resorts of all types, so they are browsing websites for last-minute deals.The average occupancy in Aspen improved to 86 percent from 80 percent for a portion of New Years Day week due to late bookings, Tomcich said. Realistically, the late business cannot help the local tourism industry match last winters business, he said, but it can improve the amount of business on the books.The Stay Aspen Snowmass website features a last-minute deals section with special rates at some tourist accommodations. More information on the terms of the Fly, Stay and Ski Free promotion can be found at Frontier is the airline linked to the latest promotion, United is also trying to spur business for Aspen. United has some extremely competitive pricing, Tomcich said.In addition to participating in the marketing team with Skico, the town of Snowmass Villages marketing department is trying to fill beds, restaurants and retail shops with e-mail and direct-mail efforts. A blast e-mail offering specials was sent to 300,000 potential customers provided by Outside Magazine, said Beth Albert, senior marketing manager for the town of Snowmass Village.A direct-mail piece was sent to families Dec. 29. The target audience was supplied by the Skico.Another direct-mail piece targeting potential new customers will go out in late January to promote mid-February to the end of March. Snowmass got that list of people from the Skico and Travel & Leisure Magazine, Albert said.The town has increased its midseason marketing efforts because of the poor condition of the economy.I think were doing more than we normally would, Albert said.

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