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Come for the Winter, Stay for the Summer

Summer mountain biking at Mt Hood Oregon. Zach Dischner

This article is part of RootsRated's new "Adventures in Marketing" beat, covering the business of content marketing for the travel and tourism industry. We hope you enjoy it, and if you'd like to know more about how RootsRated helps companies connect with passionate outdoor enthusiasts, request a demo here.

When your destination is tops for winter sports and activities, it’s easy to find yourself putting all of your marketing efforts into making the most of a single season. But the line between seasons continues to blur as winter destinations find new ways to extend their key season and stir up enthusiasm for new ones, especially during the quieter summer months.

The key to luring those coveted summer travelers, many of whom are families, is to give them reasons to hit the slopes — and bike paths, waterways and scenic roads — once the snow melts and mountains turn green. Not only do many travelers welcome the slower pace and lower prices that are often synonymous with off-season travel, but summer also presents an opportunity for marketers to shine a spotlight on the history, culture and people that make a destination unique.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, may be a well-known ski town, for example, but visit during the summer and “You’re definitely going to run into guys herding cattle across the road as well as see real Western rodeos going on every night,” says Chris Mickey of the Wyoming Office of Tourism. “We’re not just showing off for tourists; it’s part of the local culture, and it comes alive during the summer.”

Following are six guidelines for telling a winter destination’s summer story:

1. Play up your unique summer attributes.

Zachary Collier

What does your destination offer during the summer that no one else does? Utah’s Olympic Park teaches guests how to ski freestyle by allowing them to fly off a jump and into a swimming pool, but you’ll have to visit during the summer to do it, as that’s when the jumps open.

Unique summer attributes don’t have to be dramatic to engage and inspire travelers. Can guests walk to see waterfalls from the back of one of your hotels? That’s pretty cool, too — and something few visitors will venture out to do in freezing temps when the cascades are likely to be stiff, icy blocks.

Travelers to the Northwest are lured by the overabundance of accessible outdoor pursuits, something that prompted Oregon to launch its longtime 7 Wonders of Oregon initiative. “During the summer, we continue to focus on outdoor experiences, we just switch to things you can only do in Oregon, such as rafting the Rogue River and gravel grinding on the Oregon Coast,” says Linea Gagliano, director of global communications for Travel Oregon.

Whatever you unique summer attributes are, play those up. Even peace and quiet can be a strong motivator when marketed the right way.

2. Winter attractions can double as gateways to summer fun.

Daniel Parks

If you think wooden bridges and wide-open mountain meadows look gorgeous under a blanket of snow, wait until you see them enveloped in wildflowers. In Deer Valley, Utah, the same high-speed lifts that whisks skiers to the summit takes summer visitors to top-notch hiking and mountain biking trails, where the warm-weather views are just as spectacular as they are during the winter.

Vail Resorts in California and Colorado spent millions in recent years on a trio of Epic Discovery Centers that morph ski areas in Vail, Breckenridge and Lake Tahoe into summer adventure parks when the weather turns warm. Guests can go rock-climbing, tubing, zip-lining and even traverse ropes courses. In the spirit of finding new uses for old things, take a second look at your most popular winter attractions and consider the ways it can take on new roles during the summer.

3. Offer guests close encounters with nature and wildlife.

David Blackley

For those whose idea of a great vacation involves catching a glimpse of a bear in its natural habitat, exploring mountainsides during the summer, when wildlife is much more active, is a must. Wildlife literally perks up during the summer, presenting marketers with opportunities to highlight guided, ranger-led tours as well as self-guided excursions.

Visitors to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for example, can join private wildlife “scenic safaris” through Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks during the summer months. When marketed well, highlighting the many opportunities to enjoy these encounters can be a motivating driver for outdoor enthusiasts as well as families with kids who’d love nothing more than to spot a bison or bighorn sheep.

4. Summer is food and festival season.

Memorial Day Weekend at Boulder Farmer's Market.
Memorial Day Weekend at Boulder Farmer's Market. Amy Aletheia Cahill

From farmer’s markets to live music festivals, winter destinations go all out for summer. The days are finally long and warm enough to bike along scenic winery and craft beer trails, and calendars fill with events celebrating everything from bluegrass to blueberries. With culinary travel emerging as the top tourism driver, according to Skift’s 2016 report, Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016 , this presents an opportunity for marketers in winter destinations where top-notch restaurants and fresh, farm-to-table cuisine has long been par for the course.

5. The weather is always better.

Pierce Martin

Beach towns often showcase bikini-clad sun worshippers happily soaking up rays on a seemingly private stretch of shoreline throughout their marketing campaigns. But the reality is more likely to be a crowded beach with kids kicking sand every which way, as well as high temperatures and humidity that won’t quit. Not so in the mountains, where summer days tend to be long, languid, and in many cases, just as sunny as the tropics, with cool nights perfect for leisurely strolls and al fresco dining.

Colorado, for example, has long advertised its “300 days of sunshine” distinction throughout its marketing channels, prompting a backlash at times from those who say the claim is a myth. Fib or fact, both the state and the city of Denver, in particular, are now synonymous with that moniker.

6. There’s more elbowroom.

Catching up on some reading in the Sierras.
Catching up on some reading in the Sierras. Pierce Martin

Many winter destinations enjoy fewer crowds during the summer months, which translates to shorter wait times for everything from tables to attractions, and a greater likelihood that visitors may have trails all to themselves. This presents an opportunity for guests to truly commune with nature.

Even thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies appreciate having an extra bit of elbowroom. Less traffic on roads also means more pleasurable scenic drives, and easy access to top restaurants and attractions. Most potential visitors won’t know this; they need someone to tell them.

If you need help telling your destination's unique summer story, get in touch today. RootsRated helps companies connect with passionate active travelers and outdoor enthusiasts through exclusive and syndicated storytelling; request a demo here.

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