There are four ski hills in the USA I haven’t visited whose names make my stomach drop: Alta (Utah), Aspen/Snowmass (Colo.), Jackson Hole (Wyo.), and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows (Calif.).
Judging from the scenes I’ve seen in ski and snowboard movies, these are four mountains that every serious skier and snowboarder should try to visit at least once in their life — like an snowrider’s pilgrimage to Mecca.
Now there’s a special lift pass just for Mecca. These hills have gotten together to form the Mountain Collective™, which is working with Liftopia to market their Mountain Collective™ Pass.
That’s right. 16,000 acres of terrain, over 100 lifts, who knows how many inches of fluffy white powder, with one pass.
The Mountain Collective™ Pass is $349 for adults and $229 for children until November 19th. It includes two free days at each hill and 50% off lift tickets for the cardholder afterwards. The pass will also entitle the cardholder to deals on accommodations (though the press release doesn’t make any promises about the size of the discount).
This is a fantastic offer for snow riders looking to do some road tripping this winter. Some people will undoubtedly have the best seasons of their lives with this thing. There is one thing about the way they are marketing this pass, however, that bothers me.
It’s a small detail, but I’m a writer and editor, so I’m kind of anal about these things. The problem is this sentence, which appears on the website: “The Mountain Collective™ is an unprecedented collaboration between the world’s four best independent resorts.” This sentence asserts two ideas that I don’t think are accurate.
The concept behind the Mountain Collective™ Pass is remarkably similar to that behind the Louise Plus Card that Lake Louise has been selling for at least 5 years. The Louise Card is not exactly the same as the Mountain Collective™ Pass. The Louise Plus Card (which has changed over the years) normally includes three free days at any of the participating hills (usually four or more ski hills) and discounts on subsequent day passes, accommodations, and dining. The hills that participate in the deal have changed over the years. Some were under the same ownership as Lake Louise, and some were not. Some were world-class and some were not. Although the Louise Plus Card is not exactly the same as the Mountain Collective™ Pass, the the concept is the same; it’s a collective discount including limited free passes and discounts on other amenities. The Mountain Collective™ Pass is not “unprecedented” in any meaningful way that I can see.
The sentence in question also states that these are the “world’s four best independent resorts.” This is a hard claim to prove. I’m not sure what qualifies a resort as independent, but the most trustworthy lists on the best ski resorts in the world that I’ve read do not support this claim. I’m not saying that this is an out-and-out lie. Nobody has the authority to decide which are the best resorts in the world. But, as a writer, I wouldn’t feel comfortable making a claim that’s so hard to back up.
The press release that I received also referred to the union of these ski resorts as a “historic alliance”. I won’t begin to discuss what comprises a historic alliance, but you’d have a hard time convincing me that a few ski hills getting together to flog discount lift tickets qualifies.
I’d like to be clear that I’m not trying to smear the any of the parties involved. I respect the ski hills involved, I think this is a good offer, and I have actually met the folks who run Liftopia. They are honest people running a good company. My issue is with their copywriter. The more I learn about PR and marketing, the more I believe that outlandish statements like these don’t help the cause of the marketer. They damage it.
The average reader is able to recognize hyperbole even if they don’t know exactly what is being exaggerated or to what extent. It’s a feeling. It’s like being told a fish story. You don’t know where the truth ends and where the story begins, but at some point you just know the line has been crossed. When a copywriter crosses that line he loses the trust of his audience and diminishes the effectiveness of the advertisement.
It’s a shame. Vail, Aspen, Jackson Hole, and Alta are all names that sell themselves. Eight day passes for $349 works out to $43. 63 each, which is in the ballpark of half price when compared to regular mid-season day passes, and that’s before you factor in the other discounts. This is an excellent deal that will appeal to a broad cross-section of people and many of those people are going to have epic ski seasons because of it. The point is, this deal is good enough to sell itself. It saddens me that the copywriter didn’t feel that the concrete details of this offer were good enough to sell it. She felt that she had to dress it up with over-the-top claims which, to my mind, is like using a bedazzler to add flair to a Gucci tuxedo.
Besides, when was the last time you heard of somebody buying a lift ticket because it was “unprecedented”?
Lead image provided by the Mountain Collective™