$1,500 Yellowstone Pass That You Can’t Use For 150 Years; Marketers Say Genius Promotion

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A newly released Yellowstone National Park pass that can’t be used for 150 years is getting high marks for creativity from some marketing experts around Wyoming.

The park’s fundraising arm announced last week it would offer the opportunity to purchase two annual passes for $1,500 — one for use immediately and one for use in 150 years.

The new pass is being made available to help mark the park’s 150th birthday, a tie-in hailed by longtime Wyoming marketer Jim Wilkinson.

“I think it’s a genius move on their part,” said Wilkinson, who has traveled the state for almost 15 years promoting the tourism industry. “Any nonprofit can go out and ask for money, but the way they’re doing it, incorporating the 150-year anniversary into it and incorporating generations of people who will be able to enjoy Yellowstone National Park for the next 150 years – you know, what a cool concept. I don’t think anybody’s ever come up with anything like that before.”

Lisa Diekmann, CEO for Yellowstone Forever, the park’s fundraising group, told Cowboy State Daily last week the special pass program is designed to raise money for work at the park.

“This [pass] is really making a donation to Yellowstone now for projects that provide that margin of excellence, protect the wildlife, preserve the history, the heritage, the trails and enhance the visitor experience,” she said.

Give It Attention

Dale Steenbergen with the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce said he thought the idea of selling something that cannot be used for 150 years could work if the program is given regular attention over the next one and one-half centuries.

“So you’ve got this initial kind of a push, and I do think from the park’s standpoint, it implies this conservation idea into the future,” he said. “So if you can figure out a way to leverage this every 10 years or something as you move forward, and then certainly in 150 years, somebody is going to get a bang off of it.”

But Steenbergen cautioned that in order for the investment to pan out, Yellowstone Forever must have a way to keep the public’s interest for the next six generations or more.

“If you had tied something to it, like some kind of marketing scheme, that every decade we’re going to bring this up,” Steenbergen said. “You know, ‘140 years and counting, 130 years and counting, still doing well,’ or do a report every decade to highlight its longevity and stability.”

Credit The Creativity

Florian Herrmann, the owner of his own marketing firm in Lander noted that 150 years is a long time to wait to use something — even though the number does tie in nicely with the park’s 150th anniversary.

“In our American lives, I think it’s really hard for us to look at three years out – where are we going to live? What are we going to do?,” Herrmann said. “So we’re looking at 150 years, and that’s very challenging to understand.”

Herrmann stressed that he is a big supporter of Yellowstone National Park and appreciates the creativity of the promotion. But he pointed out that the world is most likely going to look very different in 150 years.

“I mean, how do you even issue that?” he asked. “Like, how can you lock it in that form? What systems do we have in place? Do we even have the internet 150 years from now?”

Calling Card

Wilkinson agreed some people might not appreciate the long-term view of the program.

“Some people are gonna go, ‘Are you kidding me? What am I going to do? You know, giving you $1,500, and nobody’s going to reap this reward, you know, for 150 years. That’s just crazy,’” he said. 

“But there’s others that really appreciate what we have here in Wyoming, and what Yellowstone means to the state of Wyoming” he continued. “I mean, this is our calling card. So I think those type of people that get it and understand what this thing’s all about, I think they’re going to open their wallet and say, ‘Let’s do this thing.’”

All of the marketing experts interviewed expressed their support for the National Park Service, and applauded the efforts by Yellowstone Forever to encourage donors to invest in Yellowstone’s future.

“It’s unique, it’s fresh, and it really hits the nail on the head of what Yellowstone is all about,” Wilkinson said. “It’s how we can support something and keep this thing going, so generations long after we’re gone are going to be enjoying the same view that we get to enjoy right now. And it’s really important that we protect those resources.”

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