By Cliff Foster
Echo Mountain in Idaho Springs opened in 2006 as place where big air-daredevils and snow riding newbies can fly, twist and spin over jibs and jumps. The mountain retains its terrain park roots but also pitches itself as a family-friendly, learn to ski and ride area that�s affordable and close to Denver.
The resort wants to build its brand and last week received a detailed to-do list from five Metro State seniors who spent weeks developing a marketing plan for this privately owned mountain 35 miles from downtown Denver.
The students are enrolled in the �Open for Business� program, managed by Lecturer Darrin C. Duber-Smith of the Department of Marketing in the School of Business. Their recommendations include expanding its food service, offering carpool incentives, partnering with a credit union on discount tickets, and promoting off-season activities like hiking and weddings to offset the winter costs.
�We need to get women going to Echo and telling their [future]husbands that they�re going to get married here, � said student Lesley Cummings during a presentation of the plan last week.
Open for Business, part of Duber-Smith�s Senior Seminar in Marketing, is in keeping with the business school�s philosophy of tying classroom academics to the outside world. He started it four years ago and students develop about 20 marketing plans each year.
�We do real marketing projects for real companies,� says Duber-Smith, who is also a marketing consultant. �It gives the students real experience, community service to the company and in some cases actually results in students getting jobs.�
Last Wednesday, Cummings along with students Aaron Dunser, Brandy Castner, Kyla Long and Lynnferd Begay , unveiled the final marketing plan to representatives from Echo Mountain and a full classroom of their fellow students. The ski area worked closely with the five students over the last couple of months, providing them with data and insights about where the business has been, where it is now and where it is headed.
The goal was to come up with a way that Echo Mountain could attract 50,000 visitors by the end of the 2011-12 season�15,000 or so more than last year�with a marketing budget of $125,000.
During a 30-minute presentation, the students rolled out an array of facts, figures and observations about Echo Mountain, the ski and snowboard industry, the resort�s competitors, social trends, demographics, and what they saw as Echo Mountain�s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The result: roughly 65 recommendations to boost business at the mountain.
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