The upcoming ski season will mark Sun Peaks’ fifth year of partnership with Liftopia using both Cloud Store and Liftopia.com. Sun Peaks, Canada’s second largest ski area with 4,270 acres of skiable terrain, appeals to a wide variety of skiers with its mix of deep steeps, long cruisers, glade zones, powder stashes, and corduroy groomers. With an abundance of activities and events both on and off the slopes, Sun Peaks has increasingly focused on how to best sell and market all it has to offer to customers, particularly online.
Prior to partnering with Liftopia, Sun Peaks sold season passes online but didn’t have a product in place to offer day-ticket sales online. Chief Marketing Officer at Sun Peaks, Aidan Kelly, believes that before using Liftopia’s Cloud Store, the resort was “behind the times” with respect to online sales.
“In a weather dependent business such as ski, it’s amazing how many destinations didn’t (or don’t) have pre-commitment lift ticket sales at the top of their priority list,” says Kelly. “Relying on people to walk up to the ticket window on the day they want to experience your product is a risky way to generate a significant portion of your annual revenues. We knew this had to change and that we needed to get serious about the e-commerce space.”
Sun Peaks had long considered implementing a dynamic pricing strategy and was intrigued by the concept for a few reasons. First of all, Sun Peaks has more skiable terrain to offer than beds for overnight guests, so many weekends throughout the season the resort gets close to capacity for overnight guests. On the flip side, the resort had room inventory available midweek and wanted to price its lift ticket product accordingly to drive visitation.
When Sun Peaks decided to take the plunge into dynamic pricing, Liftopia was the best partner for the resort.
“The path to conversion needs to be really well thought out and we wanted a partner that specialized in the e-commerce space to help us generate sales in an effective and efficient way,” said Kelly. “There are lots of people out there these days that can help, but the strategy, service, and support that can be offered by the Liftopia team is what really pulled us in (and keeps us in as well). It’s a good two-way partnership.”
Of course, overhauling pricing strategy always comes with some challenges. While initially Sun Peaks had some concerns about balancing yield while driving volume and new business, having Liftopia’s support to regularly monitor sales trends helps them find a nice balance between the two. Overall, implementing dynamic pricing with Liftopia has been successful for Sun Peaks. Kelly believes the biggest benefits for the resort have been generating pre-commitment for the resort while providing value for guests, and smoothing out the visitation demand curve, particularly driving numbers midweek.
“There are definitely fewer peaks and valleys in our core winter season which makes a big difference in how we structure and manage our operation,” says Kelly. Each year, Sun Peaks has seen an increase in sales numbers. For the past three years, the resort has seen double-digit growth in e-commerce day ticket sales, providing a more predictable business model, and increased skier visits at the resort.