Wisp capitalizing on surveys, use of social media

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Wisp, which wraps up its annual Beachin' party today and celebrates its 57th birthday Sunday and Monday with $10 lift tickets and half-priced rentals and lessons, didn't wait for the development of social media sites to hear from its guests.

General manager Jerry Geisler said paper how-are-we-doing surveys were made available to guests more than a decade ago at various locations throughout the western Maryland resort.

Since a guest suggested several years ago that the survey be placed online, it has been there. The question in white letters on a tan background -- "How was your experience at Wisp Resort" -- is on the Home Page. You can't miss it.

"I am a big believer in electronic surveys," said marketing director Lori Epp. "It allows our guests to go home, digest their visit to our resort and truthfully rate and expand on their opinions and experience.

"I'm happy to report that 80 percent of their comments on the survey are positive, complimentary and constructive," Epp said.

She said the surveys "allow us to recognize patterns and needs and adjust accordingly. Some of the more recent changes include moving the singles line at the chairlift queue; providing complimentary water in the main lodge and making certain products available at different points of sale around the resort."

When a guest in 2008 suggested that Wisp set up a reciprocal program with other resorts to enhance the value of a season pass, it resulted in a program that now includes Blue Knob, Hidden Valley, Seven Springs and Snowshoe.

Although guests realize the value of snowmaking, they don't like it when snow is being made while they are skiing and snowboarding on their favorite slopes and trails. And they take to the survey to say so.

As an avid snowboarder, Epp said she empathizes with guests who complain when the resort makes snow during operating hours. She said it is "incredibly motivating" to employees when guests identify them on the surveys. "The fact that the guest took the time to remember the employee's name ... indicates the employee went above and beyond to enhance the guest's experience."

Epp said 560 guests have completed surveys this season -- 68 percent are skiers, 32 percent snowboarders. The name of one guest will be drawn, and he or she will win two nights lodging and complimentary use of the resort amenities.

Seasonal savings

Thanks to a combination of natural snow and snowmaking, especially with the frigid temperatures of late January and February, the major local and regional resorts have bases up to three feet thick and hope to keep their slopes and trails open through March 30. And they're offering a variety of money-saving deals that include the lowest prices for their 2013-14 season passes.

Blue Knob's March Madness Package includes 50 percent off on lodging, lift tickets, rental equipment and lessons through March 24. Wisp has midweek and weekend stay and ski/snowboard packages that begin at $63 and $84, per person, per night, double occupancy.

Hidden Valley, Seven Springs and Snowshoe also have end-of-season specials. But visit the resorts' websites or call before you leave home. Hours of operation and the amount of open terrain might be limited.

Hidden Valley will have its annual season passholder appreciation party from 1-3 p.m .Sunday in the Yukon room. Seven Springs will have its passholder party from 2-6 p.m. March 24 in the Grand Ballroom.

mobilehome - ski

Larry Walsh writes about recreational snow sports for the Post-Gazette.


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