Washington’s Mission Ridge Ski & Snowboard Resort Wins NSAA 2017 Conversion Cup Award
Mission Ridge Ski & Snowboard Resort in Washington is the winner of the 2017 National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Conversion Cup Challenge, sponsored by HEAD Wintersports. This annual award recognizes resorts across the country that have developed outstanding programs to convert new skiers and snowboarders into lifelong enthusiasts.
Mission Ridge was selected among a strong field of ski areas from across the US. The other three finalists were Boreal Mountain Resort, Calif., Copper Mountain Resort, Colo., and Whistler Blackcomb, BC, Canada.
NSAA launched the initiative in 2010 as a way to pique competition among member ski areas and recognize those who make significant strides to boost conversion rates. The winner is chosen based upon proven results, creative ideas, consistent execution, and long-term commitment to the conversion effort. Several key metrics are used in the judging process, including beginner lesson volumes; quantifiable success of beginner lesson packages; season-to-date sales and repeat sales data collection; and marketing ingenuity and use of new media.
Mission Ridge won the honor largely based on the success of its Freedom Pass program, which is designed to provide a specific roadmap for beginners to become (at least) intermediate skiers. The Freedom Pass is an evolution from the successful Learn to Ski in 3 program that Mission Ridge had in place for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
The Freedom Pass addresses some of the most common hurdles for beginners, including the cost of the lesson, the feeling of intimidation, the lack of a clear progression to the next level, and the hassles related to equipment. The $159 Freedom Pass includes unlimited beginner group lessons, access to the beginner lift, and equipment rental.
“The Freedom Pass allows beginners the freedom to learn at their own pace and feel comfortable, confident, and inspired to explore new terrain because they aren’t worried about a limited number of lessons,” noted the awards application from Mission Ridge. Not only do beginners get to take as many lessons as they want, once they feel comfortable moving up to more challenging terrain, Mission Ridge has the next stepping stone ready: a discounted three-pack of all-mountain lift tickets, a discount on an intermediate lesson, and a discount on a season pass for the subsequent season. This additional package of upgrades encourages new skiers and snowboarders to continue with the sport by exploring intermediate terrain and committing to a season pass the following winter. More than 20 percent of Freedom Pass holders from the 2015-16 winter became season pass holders this past season.
Mission Ridge improved e-mail communication with Freedom Pass customers this season, with customized e-mails triggered upon sign-up, after the third lesson, and at other key milestones in the program. Tracking the progress of beginners through the life cycle of the program was a critical element. Mission Ridge tracked the number of lessons as well as non-lesson visits for each participant in the Freedom Pass, and has monitored these figures year-over-year.
The Conversion Cup Award, a large silver trophy based on a Stanley Cup prototype, is a traveling award. Mission Ridge claims ownership of the Cup for one year, until the next winner is announced at next year’s NSAA National Convention May 3–6, 2018, in Marco Island, Fla.