Belleayre marketing issues

in

To The Editor:
I was dismayed to read in “Angry Lodging Bureau Members Fired Complaints at ORDA Reps,” by Jay Braman Jr. that a summary of my letter to Ted Blazer and a quote out of context were included in the article. As a former publisher and president of a major media company, I know it is customary and good journalistic practice to check with primary sources before quoting them and using their documents. A courtesy e-mail or call from Mr. Braman was in order. I request that my letter of January 25, included below, be printed in its entirely in the next issue of Catskill Mountain News along with this letter. I am not angry as your headline implies, but dismayed by ORDA’s marketing strategy for Belleayre. The letter to Mr. Blazer follows:
“Mr. Blazer,

I am so sorry not to be able to attend this evening’s event.

I write to you as the President of Fleischmanns First, an organization devoted to the economic redevelopment of Fleischmanns and the owner and manager of Breezy Hill Inn. The continuing success of Belleayre Ski Center is integral to the success of my business in the winter and the economic fortunes of Fleischmanns as well. So far this year, our numbers are below last year’s for skier and boarder stays. In fact, my reservations for the ski season looking forward are less than my reservations for June, July and August. Although President’s weekend is looking good, the rest of the season is not. I am spending more on marketing this year to try to compensate for the reduction in marketing at Belleayre.

Last week as I drove upstate from NYC, there was no advertising presence on the Thruway. The Belleayre billboard between New Paltz and Kingston, which had been in place for the last 10 or more years, is no more. As I drove on Route 28, I saw Potter Brothers’ large sign for discount lift tickets at Windham, Hunter, and a Vermont ski center. In the past, Belleayre was on that sign. It is as if Belleayre no longer exists. You have been quoted in the press promising more marketing for Belleayre, but the promotions and advertising, perhaps more than last season, are less than the year before and certainly we all know anecdotally that fewer skiers and boarders visited Belleayre during Martin Luther King weekend.

Guests have noticed the difference between the quality of grooming on the mountain. It is getting better but not good enough to meet Belleayre’s reputation for fabulously groomed slopes. You have touted the scanners at the lifts and I have seen them work at ski centers out west but we need more personnel at the lifts to do both scanning and loading of skiers and boarders. Visitors are keenly aware of the reduced personnel. Their patience will last only so long. I have already had guests say they are disappointed in the difference from last year and before.

You have told the Belleayre staff and they in turn are saying that Belleayre has to run like a business. Most successful businesses invest in customer satisfaction in order to grow. With all due respect, right now customer satisfaction appears to be a low priority.

I ask you to invest in promotions that will bring visitors for two-day stays at our lodges. Develop discount ticket strategies that allow us to be competitive with Windham and Hunter which offer discounted lift ticket promotion consistently. Include Belleayre in group ads when positioning Gore and Whiteface. Please don’t put the members of BRLTA in a positions where we have to send guests to Liftopia to get the best discounts for single-day tickets which in turn incentivizes one-day trips and less time to frequent our local shops and restaurants.

I know that this is a transition period but the season will be over in two and a half months, time is of the essence. Please consider increasing the discounts that BRLTA members can offer guests and be aggressive in promoting our wonderful mountain.
Thank you for your attention.

Michelle Sidrane,
president,
Fleischmanns First
Owner, Breezy Hill Inn”