Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Get on the Ski Bus, Gus

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of authenticity in business relationships, which aren't as casual as with your friends, where you can wear what you want and they probably follow the same fashion trends (or lack thereof).

Well, friends are part of your network, too. Yesterday I got into this referral program for a ski bus that takes you to Lake Tahoe and back all in one day. It got me thinking about how smart these ski bus people are. They combined some really important elements of referral marketing (sometimes negatively called the pyramid scheme) and utilized secondary relationships through their ski bus members.

To be more specific, the ski bus solves time, money and efficiency problems that alpine lovers hate. Normally, I don't get suckered in to the things like this but money is an issue and I don't want to sacrifice the snow season either. Here's an imagined conversation with said ski bus company.

Me: I am a snowboarder and I have friends who snowboard. We carpool together and share motel rooms and we've done the whole quick, dirty, cheap snowboarding trip thing. It's not that great, because we spend our first day of the weekend driving! This is why: Driver A thinks it sucks because he has to stay awake while everybody is napping. Then, we stop on the side of the road for gas, and Driver A switches with Driver B so that Driver A can take a nap. Then somebody absolutely has to go to the bathroom, especially the girls who have small bladders, and another wants a snack from the 7-11. We spend more time driving than snowboarding!

Ski bus says:No problem. We'll hire someone to drive, have no stops, keep a lavatory on the bus for emergencies and everybody can take a nap on the way to the slopes.

Me: I just updated all my gear--boots, bindings and board. I don't want to pay for a lift ticket and your bus ride. It sounds like it will be more expensive.

Ski bus says:: You can ride our bus for the same price as a lift ticket with transportation included, because we reduce our costs by not advertising. Instead, what about YOU do our marketing for us? Tell your friends about us and we will give them SKIBUS dollar discounts if they sign up and also, you'll get more discounts if they tell their friends.

Me: Yeah, I would totally refer my friends because I will do anything not to pay my entire year's salary just to have some fun and I know my friends don't want to pay huge amounts either. Not only that, but I'll keep using this service since I get discounts through them and don't spend all my time trying to drive up to Tahoe.

The only thing that is a bit annoying about this site is that they have an e-mail address called "typos at skibus dot com" because who ever is doing their copy doesn't know how to spellcheck their work. They know that us snow people are the types who say "Will do anything for snowboarding/skiing" and they really employ high level participation to the max. I mean, typos--that's not our job to notice things like that. It's yours.

If you want a $5 discount to go snowboarding, just comment to let me know. Like I said, if it works on me, it'll work on any ski bunny. OK, I admit, it is a sort of plug for said ski bus but think of it more as me glowing in admiration.

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