For about seven years now, I have used the exclamation “Ullr Provides!” each time snow fell in abundance at the ski slope. It was my way of saying “it’s a powder day and I’m grateful to have the privilege to be heading out for fresh tracks.” As time passed, it occurred to me there needed to be a greater purpose to this saying than just “Yay! Let’s go play!”
When my college-aged cousin from Missouri came to ski with some of her friends, my wife and I realized that it was our chance to “provide” to the next generation of skiers. We shared (subsidized) a place with them, found them the appropriate clothing in our “hand me down” bin, helped them with transportation options to and from mountains, took them to get skis with the most flexible return policies, found where to get food cheap, determined which resort had best beginner terrain with fair lift ticket prices, and so on. They left with a positive experience and will likely come back in the future. They most certainly went home and told their friends about how much fun they had. We have started hearing from many of their friends shortly after.
I’m sure many of you are thinking well, of course, you did that’s what you do for family. We totally agree, and we were ecstatic to do this! But if you take us out of the picture…….would their trip be the same?
Keep in mind; these were farm kids that hadn’t seen a mountain ever and definitely had not seen a ski area. They had heard of Breckenridge, Copper, Vail, and Aspen that marketing engines that dominate the airways and clickbait. They are smart young adults, so surely they would have figured it out with google, yelp, and other sources. However, the probability would have been high that they that would have ended up in overpriced lodging, eating expensively, paying full price to rent gear, lessons, and lift tickets. The net could have been them returning home broke and likely sharing this disappointing side of winter sports.
There is a growing trend that Millennials are skiing less and they’re not spending the same as their boomer parents. Several articles have been publishing citing how financial priorities like student debt are part of the problem, and they also suggest other competing leisure activities are taking precedence. They suggest advertising more and bundling with different experiences, like concerts, is the answer. While we can agree with some of this reasoning, the articles conclusion that it is lousy advertising misses the mark. In our opinion, the fundamental reason people are skiing less is that the affordability has gone down significantly and people feel like its a massive investment to even start.
A person who buys his or her ticket and lesson at the window, rents gear slope-side, buys new clothing at boutique outfitters, and dines on the mountain is throwing away tons of money. By our estimate, its easily $5000 for a family of four to enjoy a weekend and nearly $1000 of that is just on lift tickets! That does not include your lodging, flights, and entertainment. By the way, just forget about buying that souvenir! Perhaps you’re thinking, “well its a monopoly controlled by very few and the surrounding real estate is already consumed by the very few.” If this is indeed true, then Ullr Sucks! If you are a fellow snow worshiper, this statement should bring a tear to your eye….. It sure did writing it!
We feel that we can directly help our audience sequence the introduction, education, and progression process to minimize any significant outlays of funds. We also time our program so that any bigger outlays occur when sales and discounts are most likely available.
We are encouraging redirecting promotional items tossed out at trade shows by having a collection bin at the exits. This program helps someone who now has an extra beanie, socks, helmet, etc. help those that are struggling to get their first. We started this program with a helmet we won at a raffle that we didn’t have an immediate need to use. It would have otherwise collected dust and not been used before the materials naturally degraded.
To our brands and partners, we encourage our industry to view the first beanie, gloves, or socks a never ever buys as an investment opportunity versus a windfall by subsidizing this purchase either directly or through our non-profit partnerships.
We are hoping that creating this conversation around affordable progression will enable more people to approach the sport, progress to become a solid snowshoer, nordic skier, alpine skier, snowboarder, or backcountry enthusiast.
If all goes well, together we can create the next generation of lifelong snow worshipers and protectors of our public lands.
We want everyone to wake up one day and declare “Ullr Provides!!!”