Winter marketing campaigned broadened to non-skiers The Whistler Resort Association is broadening its winter marketing campaign to include publications which are not exclusively devoted to skiing or snowboarding. For the first time, the WRA will be advertising Whistler in the November issues of Outside magazine and Travel & Leisure. Advertising in those two publications will complement fall advertising campaigns in the traditional consumer publications such as SKI magazine. Advertising in Outside and Travel & Leisure is in response to the increasing popularity of "winter activity" vacations — family vacations where some members of the family ski or snowboard but other family members are non-skiers and non-boarders. As well, travellers interested in combining winter activities with city-stay vacations are targeted in the Outside and Travel & Leisure campaigns. This winter’s print advertising campaign is described by the WRA’s Jill Greenwood as "more emotional and creative" than last winter’s, which presented a "laundry list" of the resort’s attributes. In addition to advertising in the major North American publications, the WRA is continuing with most of the winter marketing initiatives it has followed in recent years. Those initiatives include direct mail campaigns in the New York/New Jersey area, Washington, Texas and California, as well as the airline buy-down program which was introduced last winter. The buy-down program is a vacation package that includes discounted air fares from the New York and California markets. Air fares from New York are $199 and just $99 from San Francisco or Los Angeles. The buy-down packages are in effect for the early and late winter season. A total of 351 packages were sold last winter, with approximately 250 of those bought in California, primarily in the late season. The buy-down program was introduced last year in response U.S. consumers’ perception that Whistler was too far away and difficult to access. As well, ski resorts in Colorado have been buying large blocks of airline seats for years and offering discounted air fares to Denver, Vail and Aspen. Barrett Fisher, vice president of marketing and sales for the WRA, said a spin-off of the buy-down program last year was an increase in telephone inquiries. Many of those phone inquiries resulted in sales during the high season. Fisher said there are indications there is going to be strong repeat business from last year. As well, early forecasts show another La Nina winter, which likely means heavier than normal snowfall along the West Coast, including the Whistler area, and less snow than normal in most of the rest of North America.