Dec 1, 2011 | Marmot, Winter 2011

Tourism Mount Washington Breaks the Trend

In a time when many tourism-based entities are stagnating in a soft economy Mount Washington Alpine Resort is bucking the trend, says Sarah Nicholson, Manager of Tourism Mount Washington.

Tourism Mount Washington has seen its membership jump to 300 members and is still growing. And just as importantly, room revenues have seen a healthy increase, she said. “Year over year we saw a 5.5 per cent increase (in 2010), which is great,” she said.

The increased membership is allowing Tourism Mount Washington to benefit from a community moving in the same direction “and getting representation from the whole community with regards to where they would like to see us going,” she said. “We’re beginning to get a membership of the majority of the resort community.”

An increase in membership coupled with higher room revenues means there are more dollars available for marketing Mount Washington. Nicholson is also cultivating partnerships to stretch those dollars even further.

She partnered with the Comox Airport for a summer “Go Vancouver Island” campaign in Alberta that promoted the airport (YQQ) as the main gateway to the region, including Mount Washington. Feedback has so far been positive, she said. The promotion, coupled with Google ads, drew traffic to the website.

“We’ve really upped our marketing activity in line with the additional revenues we’re getting in with the additional hotel room tax,” she said.

The joint campaign with the airport is just one of several partnerships she is building with businesses in the Comox Valley. Tourism Mount Washington will also partner with Mount Washington Alpine Resort on certain events this year.

All this is helping Tourism Mount Washington transition from four years of internal growth strategies to a new focus: the consumer.

Last year’s record snow pack meant Nicholson’s booth at the London Ski Show was popular, as people wanted to know more about the Resort that had the most snow of all last year. “We went through more literature in the first three days of the five-day show than we did last year,” she said.

She had to copy some of her literature because she ran out of trail maps and brochures.

Nicholson also attended a ski show in Calgary, Alta. for the first time with the intent of spreading the word about Mount Washington and increasing room revenues. She saw a lot of interest at the Calgary show for the Island Resort. “It’s an eye opener how few recognize how easy it is to get to us,” she said. Many didn’t realize that there are daily flights to Comox either.

Nicholson has organized a presence on BC Ferries between Nanaimo and Vancouver, and spent a day in November with a booth at The Bay Centre in Victoria.

Nicholson is also using social media to spread the word. Two contests incorporating QR codes on rack cards are also being run: one is a snowfall prediction contest, with a summer holiday as a prize. The second is a “where in the world is Mount Washington and why is it unique” contest, with a winter holiday as a prize. There is also a link to the second contest on the website. “Communication is going to be a main focus,” Nicholson said.

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