Most of you know the Vertical Challenge doesn’t charge racers any money to participate in our racing or festival events. You probably also realize we can do that through the support of partners – brands who think the values of the VC audience line up with their own.
This post gives a short overview of some of the reasons companies sponsor the VC.
The Vertical Challenge: More Than Racing
The Vertical Challenge is a series of free casual ski and snowboard races held at ski resorts throughout the Northeast during each winter season. The VC includes a festival element, featuring snowy activities for all ages and prizes given away throughout a fun day at the mountain.
It’s also a lot more.
Over our 30 years of operation, we’ve made it a priority to make a difference in the lives of our attendees. We mentor our crew and they, in turn, mentor our young participants. They help an eight-year-old overcome trepidation about her first ski race; They show a child how he can help other kids through school fundraisers; They adopt families, often forming bonds that last well beyond the day at the slopes. Multiple generations have made the VC an influential part of their lives.
Vertical Challenge General Information
- The Vertical Challenge provides fun ski and snowboard races for all ages and ability levels, including adaptive.
- The VC brings a festival atmosphere, with family-friendly activities and contests, so a family will have a good time no matter if they race or not.
- The VC is free with the resort lift ticket. There’s no extra cost to race.
- The VC raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Cynthia’s Challenge charity through raffles and more (including a 24-hour ski-a-thon). The VC crew makes an effort to help kids learn about how they can make a difference through philanthropy – “kids helping kids.”
- Each of our crew members looks to “adopt” a family at every stop. They help the kids that day and those relationships often last well beyond a single day at the mountain.
- The VC has been in continuous operation since 1991, the longest running ski and snowboard promotional tour in North America (and probably the world!)
- Last season, we ranked second in the country behind only Aspen in total number of unique ski racers, and every other resort in the top six has at least double the number of races (Aspen has four times the number). More people get their ski racing through the VC than almost any other source.
The Vertical Challenge Audience
Our patrons’ understanding of how our partners help support the tour they love can be a differentiator. 93% of survey respondents answered yes to this question: “If a company supports the Vertical Challenge, are you more likely to consider their product/service for future purchases (assuming price and quality are the same)?”
Our tour attracts a lot of parents who make decisions about their family’s diets and children who can learn to enjoy healthy foods at a young age. They’re already engaging in an active lifestyle just by showing up. But our survey data also indicates 78% of them buy organic products. And note the order in which they ranked their priorities on this question in our most recent survey:
If you buy food for children in your family, rank these factors in order of importance in making your dietary choices, with one (1) being the most important and five (5) being the least important:
- Brand name I trust
- Tasty to the kids
Our participants and spectators offer high disposable incomes – 63% have household incomes above $100,000 annually, with 12% above $300,000. More than 70% spend more than $500 monthly on food; nearly a quarter spend more than $1000. More than 80% own a home, and more than 60% say they are “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to renovate it in the next 12 months.
Nearly half of our audience members work in one of these capacities: “Business Owner,” “Company President or CEO,” “Executive: Vice President,” “Executive: Department Head (not VP title),” or “Manager.” These are decision-makers.
Our regional tour serves some of the nation’s top markets. Our tour has typically staged events in 6-8 northeastern states. These states and the ones that border them account for more than one fifth of the U.S. population, nearly 70 million people. We annually get entrants from 25+ states, and we’ve had participants from as far away as China.
In addition to winter sports, our research indicates many members of our audience also share these interests:
- Domestic Travel (and foreign travel to a lesser extent)
- Family Outings
- Going Out To Eat
- Wildlife/environment issues
Potential Assets for Partners
Any packages we create are customized based on what makes sense for the individual partner. So this list provides just a few general possibilities – we work with all our partners to ensure any asset mix is geared to meeting their company goals.
We have great options for sampling, and our audience knows to look for the tents (as well as to try new things).
Partners have a number of options for utilizing VC-related content, either through VC channels or their own websites or social channels. We offer a lot of content marketing possibilities, with consumers/crew interacting with product in a beautiful natural setting.
We brainstorm ways to weave partners into the fabric of the event. We create fun games incorporating product, photo contests, sweepstakes, and more.
A visual presence can establish a brand as an official VC sponsor, which is useful for the trust factor with our sponsor-loyal audience.
We leverage our winter sports assets to drive traffic for partners.
B-to-B: We have relationships with the resorts with whom we work and can also offer customized hospitality options.
Who Can I Talk To If I Want To Know More?
Heather Clifford spearheads partner relations for the Vertical Challenge!
Co-owner and CMO