Ski Utah's latest marketing push a pass good for one day next season at each of the state's 14 resorts reflects the growing importance of social networking to the industry.
The $495, limited-edition Yeti Pass on sale now is named after the abominable snowman mascot who, in the five years since its inception, has become Ski Utah's face on Facebook.
Because the Yeti has 7,631 followers there, Ski Utah is offering a day of helicopter skiing to the first purchaser who uses the pass at all 14 resorts and proves it with pictures posted on Facebook from a ticket window at each ski area.
"This is the year of the Yeti," said Jessica Kunzer, spokeswoman for Ski Utah, marketing arm of the state's $1.2-billion industry. "Our mascot embodies the ultimate mountain enthusiast. We're sharing his passion for snowsports through a couple of products and social media outlets."
Ski Utah also is trying to entice Wasatch Front residents to investigate the diversity of the state's ski offerings.
"If you've never ventured out of the Cottonwood canyons or Park City and wondered about the rest of the state, this is the opportunity to do so," Kunzer said, citing the appeal of Beaver Mountain above Logan, Eagle Point outside of Beaver and Brian Head near Parowan.
"I would call those resorts our hidden gems … fantastic family resorts," she said. "Visiting them would give a skier or boarder a greater appreciation for the magnificent ski industry Utah has."
Ski Utah is making 100 Yeti Passes available this season to test the enthusiasm of locals. Future adjustments may be made, depending on the pass's popularity, Kunzer said.
She thinks the pass will be popular with parents of next winter's fifth- and sixth-grade passport holders. Those passports, also Ski Utah products, provide three days of free skiing at each resort to fifth-graders, one day for sixth-graders.
"This way, parents can more affordably join their [children] and, hopefully, give some Utahns a chance to explore different resorts," Kunzer added.
Besides the Facebook photo-posting enticement, good for a day of heliskiing with Wasatch Powderbird Guides (Kunzer estimated its value at $1,200), Ski Utah is promoting the pass with races Sept. 3at the Downtown Farmers Market in Salt Lake City.
The Yeti Pass Skootch'n Dash will challenge participants to race either in ski boots or with a snowboard.
Half of the proceeds from the $5 entry fee will go to the Utah Avalanche Center, which provides daily avalanche forecasts in winter for the Wasatch and Uinta mountains.
The fastest racers in several divisions will win prizes from Rossignol or Smith Optics. Whoever wears the best costume will receive a Yeti Pass for the 2011-12 season.
"We're trying to get locals excited for a wonderful season," Kunzer said, noting the Yeti promotion was timed to build interest in resorts' season pass sales and retailers' equipment sales that begin around Labor Day weekend.
"We don't deny skiing is an expensive sport," she said. "But if you plan ahead, you can make it more affordable."
O Apply for the all-resort pass or learn more about the Skootch'n Dash.