Case Study

The Challenge

Killington Mountain Resort & Ski Area is a ski resort near Killington, Vermont. It is the largest ski area in the Eastern United States, and has the largest vertical drop in New England at 3,050 feet. Starting in the 2013-2014 ski season, it was given the title “Beast of the East.” In 2015, the Killington Mountain Resort was opening a summer “adventure center” as a key step in becoming an all-seasons family destination. Killington was cautious about launching traditional media as there was uncertainty around the actual date that some attractions would be open.  JL Media recommended a digital-first “soft launch” approach that would allow for more flexibility around attraction openings yet still provide scale and drive visitors to the resort.

Our Media Strategy

  • Paid Search was recommended as the hero tactic.  There was opportunity to increase Killington’s position in unbranded ad groups, leveraging an uptick in mountain biking queries.  We layered this with other unbranded ad groups focusing on family vacations and “things to do”.  We also observed increased branded queries that correlated to the level of Display media in market.  Over 50% of the digital budget was ultimately put into Paid Search to capture as much real-time regional destination research intent as possible.
  • JL Media recommended Killington run an influencer marketing program to build awareness and credibility among family vacation planning Moms, an audience more important to them than in previous seasons.  We partnered with 8 regional “mommy bloggers” and handpicked them for their level of social influence.  We invited them and their families to stay at the resort and experience the new attractions.  Afterwards the moms blogged about their positive experiences and drummed up further interest by running Killington adventure center ticket giveaways.
  • Display provided the engine for driving interest that was captured in click through visits and  increased branded search queries. JL Media increased the allocation for Retargeting to maximize acquisition then concentrated its Prospecting efforts on Smartphones, which delivered a more compelling canvas for showcasing Killington’s compelling adventure center imagery.  The mobile partner developed custom targeting buckets that balanced “outdoor enthusiast mom” behaviors, re-messaging to users who have previously visited Killington, and prospects that had been located through GPS signals at competitor ski mountains, water parks, mountain bike parks and golf courses in the previous 12 months. The mobile prospecting delivered spectacular click through, carousel imagery engagements, and taps to map, while filling the acquisition funnel.

Our Results

The summer campaign yielded three times the traffic to the Killington site when compared to winter 2014-15. The blogger/influencer program resulted in 447 posts, 5.6 million impressions and 11k engagements. Compared to the previous blogger campaign, Summer 2015 delivered a 93% increase in posts, 300+ % increase in impressions and over 400% increase in engagements. In total 8 bloggers visited Killington with their families, experiences the new attractions, and reported their positive experiences to their readers.  These participants also used their social platforms to run adventure center pass giveaways. Due to the overwhelming success, Killington has expressed a high level of client satisfaction pertaining with acquisition KPIs and reported a higher number of patronages than they had forecasted. In addition, a survey of the Killington business community confirmed Killington Resort’s media investment had triggered a historic positive impact on local business. Restaurants in particular reported patronage “like never before”, “best summer ever” and “we were floored by the increase in customers this summer”.

Digital Budget Put In Paid Search
Increase In Impressions
Engagements From Blogger Outreach Program
Overall Clicks To Site