EP117 – Skiing to Success: The Oxford Ski Company Journey

Author Sarah Hailwood 5 min read time

Welcome back to the Marketing Freaks Podcast. In this episode, we dive deep into the fascinating journey of renowned Luxury Travel Brand, Oxford Ski Company with its founder and CEO, Rupert Longsdon. We explore the inception of the business, the pivotal role of marketing in fostering growth, and valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. We uncover the evolution of marketing strategies, the significance of a well-balanced marketing mix, and Rupert’s perspective adapting during challenging times.

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Key takeaways:

  • Practical Advice for New Founders: Gain insights into the mindset, strategies, and approaches that can pave the way for successful business establishment and growth.
  • Momentum through marketing: Trace Oxford Ski Company’s marketing evolution from its early activities to current success, offering practical lessons for startup branding and momentum building.
  • Adaptability in Crisis: Discover firsthand how to reshape marketing strategies in response to challenges.
  • Founder’s Marketing Wisdom: Discover key aspects of marketing’s role in business success, guiding entrepreneurs to prioritise efforts and make informed decisions.

25 Years of Excellence: Navigating the Slopes of Success with Rupert Longson and The Oxford Ski Company

Lessons on Finding Your Niche, Targeted Marketing, Creativity, Global Expansion, Adaptability, Database Management, Branding, and Making Marketing a Top Priority

Rupert Longsdon started the Oxford Ski Company at the young age of 25, driven by his love for the mountains, a passion for the service industry, and an aspiration to offer exceptional skiing experiences. Cut to 2023 and The Oxford Ski company is one of the leading Luxury Ski Travel agents facilitating high end ski holidays to customers from all over the world and celebrating 25 years of success.

The journey to this milestone wasn’t always a smooth downhill run, there were a couple of detours into the backcountry when plans went off-piste! Rupert shares his wisdom on conquering challenges, his evolving marketing strategies, and invaluable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Find your niche: In the fast-paced world of business, finding your niche is often the key to success. For Rupert, that niche was luxury ski holidays. As he reflects on the company’s 25-year journey, it becomes clear that specialising in a unique market segment can set you apart from the competition. In a world where standing out is essential, having a niche can be a game-changer.

Segmentation and targeting: One of the first lessons to be learned from the Oxford Ski Company is the power of segmentation and targeted marketing. Rupert recognised the importance of understanding your audience early on. In the early stages of his business, Rupert created a list of potential customers by reaching out to personal contacts. The key was to send the right information to the right people. This practice is still vital today, as the company has grown its database to over 25,000 clients, all with unique preferences and needs. Tailored marketing ensures that clients receive information relevant to their interests and location, improving conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

The importance of creatives: In today’s digital age, visual appeal reigns supreme. The Oxford Ski Company understood the significance of creative marketing from the outset. High-quality photography and videos showcasing stunning ski destinations became pivotal in attracting clients. In a niche market like luxury ski holidays, where clients seek not just a vacation but an experience, visuals play a crucial role in making a lasting impression. Creative assets are the window through which potential clients glimpse the magic your business can offer.

Going Global: Expanding your horizons can lead to significant growth opportunities. The Oxford Ski Company’s journey took it from a local Chalet operator to a global specialist agent for skiing holidays. Going global not only broadened the company’s client base but also presented unique challenges. Understanding the cultural differences and specific needs of clients from different parts of the world and tailoring their marketing strategy to fit became essential. Embracing this diversity led to more extensive client relationships and a thriving international business.

Stay competitive: In the ever-evolving world of marketing, staying competitive is a constant challenge. Rupert Longson shares that adapting to changes in SEO and the competitive landscape has been an ongoing struggle. However, it’s also a source of motivation. To succeed, businesses must strive to stay one step ahead of the competition, whether by investing in SEO, adopting new marketing strategies, or embracing emerging technologies

Database Management: As the Oxford Ski Company’s client base grew, so did the importance of effective database management. Rupert emphasised the need to maintain a segmented and well-organised client database. Knowing your clients’ preferences and needs is essential for providing personalised services. Investing in database management ensures that marketing efforts are precise and relevant, resulting in higher client satisfaction and engagement.

Create a brand you are proud of: A brand is more than just a logo; it’s the essence of your business. Rupert Longson highlights the importance of being proud of your brand. In the competitive world of luxury ski holidays, a strong and trustworthy brand can set you apart. Customers need to know that you’re more than just a pretty website. They want to trust your expertise and rely on your reputation. Building a brand you’re proud of is an investment that pays dividends in the long run.

Rupert’s final and most important piece of advice was to make marketing a priority. In hindsight, Rupert admits that if he could go back 25 years, he would have made marketing a priority from day one. The lesson here is clear: don’t underestimate the power of marketing.

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