When you believe many of the people in your largest potential market think you’re Canadian it’s time to get creative.
How about an ambush trivia contest with cash prizes?
Or, even better, what if you boot contestants off a chairlift mid ride if they get too many questions wrong?
This is the idea Kathleen Goyette hatched to promote White Pass Ski Area recently while she was commuting to work from Yakima.
As the mountain’s marketing manager she’s always looking for ways to catch the attention of the Seattle market.
“We are very unknown north of Tacoma,” Goyette said. “We are better known in Portland than Seattle.”
She says the most common response she gets when she tells people from Seattle where White Pass is located (southeast of Mount Rainier) is “I thought White Pass was in Canada.”
So, to combat that problem Goyette enlisted the help of fellow ski area workers, got approval from general manager Kevin McCarthy and launched a new game show called “Cash Quad.”
Inspired by “Cash Cab,” a Discovery Channel game show in which contestants ride in a taxi while the driver asks questions.
At White Pass, host Wes Vimont, a ski patroller, plucks willing participants from the lift line then they hop on a Great White Express four-seat lift that is set up with as many as three cameras.
The questions all focus on Washington’s ski areas and those who make it all the way to the top win a White Pass gift card. Participants can even use their cell phones to call friend for help.
Participants get $5 for the first question then the value doubles for each next correct answer up to $160. They’re also entered to win a K2 snowboard or skis.
The real fun comes when contestants get three wrong answers. Vimont radios down to the control room and the lift is stopped. Then the participants are lowered by rope to the snow and left to ski back down the mountain.
It takes about 4 ½ minutes to evacuate two skiers, Goyette said. To keep other skiers from getting upset about delays, episodes are typically filmed on weekdays when crowds are smallest. The ski area is currently only open on weekends.
If weather is good, Goyette says the ski area is likely to film this weekend although they’ll use a different approach to evacuate trivia losers to keep the lines moving.
Only one episode of “Cash Quad” has aired so far on the ski area’s website and it has about 1,000 views. But Goyette says it seems to already be taking on a life of its own.
Recently a mother recognized Vimont when he was responding to an injury to the woman’s son.
“She said, ‘Hey, you’re the guy from Cash Quad,’” Goyette said. “Wes said, ‘Yes I am, but right now I’m here to help your son.’”
Goyette hopes their internet program will not only lure more Seattleites to White Pass, but also paint a picture of what visitors can expect at the ski area.
“The point is that we have fun,” Goyette said. “That is the culture at White Pass.”