Wachusett Mountain Ski Area Partners with Babson Undergraduate Students to Improve Marketing Efforts
Tom Meyers, Director of Marketing for Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, was looking to expand his outreach to younger patrons. The mountain was hoping to tap into the 18-24 market and he thought the best way to do that would be to reach out to, “one of the leading marketing programs in the state,” Babson College in the Fall of 2017.
Professor Richard Hanna was teaching two classes Marketing Communications and Marketing Research. “I intended to use a real client for marketing communications and was contemplating using a real client for marketing research,” says Professor Hanna. “I knew [Wachusett] would be a great fit for both classes since they wanted to know how they should be allocating their advertising budget and leverage social media (perfect for marketing communications) and wanted to know more about the millennial market with respect for skiing and how they could attract them to a variety of events (perfect fit for research).”
The team at Wachusett posed many questions to the Babson students. Wachusett has a very strong brand on television and radio, but they knew they needed to do more to reach their target audience of 18-24 year olds. Do they put more effort into a particular medium? Do they go for non-traditional marketing opportunities? The Babson students came back with some very creative ideas.
“The students did great with this topic,” says Professor Hanna. “They really ran with it. In the marketing communications class, they came up with a variety of ideas to help generate attention and connect with college audiences. They had several great campaign ideas for advertising on social media and encouraging user generated content. In the research class, the students survey over 300 people from across New England to determine type of skiers and non-skiers and test ideas to see what would get them to the mountain during all four seasons and how to overcome transportation issues.”
The Wachusett team was incredibly impressed with the suggestions from the students. “The response from Babson was beyond our expectations,” said Meyers. “Richard Hanna’s enthusiasm in bringing this challenge into the class and his understanding of our challenge was exceptionally helpful in making this a fun project for everyone. The students responded with well thought out ideas and campaigns to help guide our efforts.”
The Wachusett team has implemented many of the ideas from the students such as: college nights, midweek ski train, and discounted lift tickets and learn to ski/ride packages
Professor Hanna sees a lot of promise in this model for future classes. This Spring 2018, he is working with 15 small and medium size businesses (including Wachusett again!) in his undergraduate and graduate classes to conduct digital audits and provide feedback and recommendations.
“Using real companies can be a challenge from a management perspective (e.g., making sure everyone gets along, meets deadlines, responsiveness, etc.) but the payoff for the students is tremendous with respect to learning and experience,” says Professor Hanna. “The businesses that participate are exposed to fresh ideas and learn things they didn’t know. It is hard work, but a win-win. Wachusett was a great partner this past fall and I’m so excited they are working with me again this spring.”