140915-trends

Use Your Full Quiver

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Looks like it was a busy week for searches about Park City Mountain Resort over Labor Day weekend, could there possibly have been some other reason for the big jump in searches but perhaps it was simply the great work of the marketing team?! Goes to show, don’t forget to set up subscriptions for Google Trends reporting for your favorite, or just interesting, web searches, so you can tell what searches might be ramping up without looking into Google Webmaster tools reports:

Google Trends:

140915-trends

Google Webmaster Tools:

140915-webmaster-tools

Note that there wasn’t much increase in the clicks to the site for this search, so I probably would not have noticed the increase in searches without delving into the deeper in Google Analytics’ Search Engine Optimization reports, and even there, I wouldn’t have been able to see how individual search queries performed, just overall queries. Be sure to use all the tools at your disposal and even if you’re not using a tool regularly, be sure you have it configured to alert you if something interesting comes along – you have the full quiver available, use it!

 

141020-tv

Two Unique Videos (One About Skiing) from TV Manufacturers

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If you haven’t seen Sweetgrass Productions AFTERGLOW video, take a look now, and marvel at the effort that went into shooting this film:

Then take a look at this video that Samsung sponsored about five years ago (excuses the low quality of the clip):

Then take a step back, think about the videos that you’ve posted for your brand and step of the box like these two groups did. The results might just surprise you!

141013-evolve

Change and Evolve

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141013-evolveIt’s been an interesting few weeks in our quiet little mountain town of Park City and I have no doubts that things will continue to be “interesting” in the coming months and years. I am not going to detail these events as they’ve been plastered up and down the walls of the internet, however, I think that this time of change is a great example for looking at ourselves and how we fall into routines and habits which sometimes get shaken up to help us to continue to evolve and improve in our jobs.

Digital marketing is a space that is in continual evolution and change, which is part of why I really enjoy what I do (be able to promote skiing is a bonus too). In order to keep up with all the new ideas, tools, techniques, opportunities and everything and everything else, I try to spend a few minutes each day catching up on what’s going on in the digital space. I usually don’t have a lot of time, but I have a few emails, blogs and other sources that I will take a glance at.

Over the course of the day, I try to break up my work with periodic breaks to keep me from getting burned out, which I can often feel coming on after two intense hours of concentration on a single project. With five minutes browsing on topics completely unrelated to the subject I was working on, I can reset and get myself back on track to spend a few more hours on my project, plus I get to spend a few minutes looking into topics that I can possibly join into future efforts.

The other thing I try to do is to establish new habits when I can find something that I want to change in my behavior. I got some great insight on habits when I saw BJ Fogg keynote at the Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer in Chicago back in October of 2009, and I’ve continued to follow his tips online. I highly recommend Dr. Fogg’s Tiny Habits program is for anyone who has ever had the urge to do something consistently (create a habit) but can’t figure out how they can do it. It’s really simple, only takes a few minutes per day, and if you follow his steps, you really can create a new habit for yourself. I continue to use the process I learned in this program and as things shift in my workplace I have confidence that this technique will help me to adjust and be successful moving forward.

Photo credit: Flickr user Kevin Dooley
141006-snowmobile

More Hyperlapse

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Several weeks ago I wrote a post about the benefits of Hyperlapse video processing technology and two weeks later, Instagram posted an app that they call Hyperlapse which made this technology available to the masses – although it doesn’t use anything but the video that you capture on your iPhone.

This is great stuff, but I love this application of hyperlapse which hacks Google Street View imagery to create easy hyperlapse videos that pull from the huge inventory of images that Google has captured, and is capturing:

I created a quick test of a Street View snowmobile track at PCMR track – I’m working on embedding the code on here, but for now, visit:

http://hyperlapse.tllabs.io/#40.62561,-111.52932000000001,40.625363882839466,-111.5234781523987,40.629850000000005,-111.52101,14.153875000000024,129.84375

Duplicate

Moving or Duplicating a WordPress Blog

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DuplicateI’ve been using Wordpress on various projects over the years and one of the things that has always been a bit disappointing to me is the difficulty of moving a blog, from a development site to production or from one host to another. It’s easy enough to use the export content function, but in configuring and building a good-looking and working blog, there are so many configurations, widgets, menus and more that are setup and need to be setup again that I always spend way more time than it seems necessary going through all the entire CMS to make sure I’ve made all the updates.

I recently helped a friend move their move and since he had a ton of custom work done on it, I didn’t want to go through this process again. Instead I used a great plugin called Duplicator which made the process amazingly easy.

  • First, you download and install the plugin in the WordPress CMS of the blog that you are wanting to move.
  • Next, you run the plugin and create a “package set” that you will need to download to your local computer.
  • You then will need to create an empty MySQL database on your new web server.
  • Then upload your package set to an empty directory on the new server.
  • Click the installer file, enter a few configuration file entries and in a few minutes, you will have moved you WordPress site to a new host, exactly as it was on the previous one.

I’m no WordPress guru, but this plugin worked exactly as described and is one I will certainly look to use again if I ever have the need.

Photo credit: Flickr user JimmyMac

 

Hipmunk search result screen

Travel Search Data

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I’ve beaten the Google drum quite a bit, but Google is by no means the end all be all of search. There are plenty of searches happening on other search engines (did you know the current number 2 is YouTube – owned by Google of course), searches via other mediums like driving directions, search done in-app on mobile devices and searches done for things other than web pages.

Travel search is an area that Google has entered for things such as flight and hotel search, but there are several sites that are providing some very interesting variations travel search results page. I first came upon Hipmunk almost 3 year ago at PhoCusWright, and the site has really gained some traction since then. Their main differentiator is that they sort their flight results initially by what they call, “Agony”, which is “…a combination of price, duration and number of stops.” Definitely a nice way to sort flights for those of us who are not fans of multiple airport connection hops:

Hipmunk search result screen

That’s some helpful stuff, but what I have had a lot of fun checking in on is the travel search dataset that flight search site Hopper is sharing via their Hopper Research. I first found this when they posted about the cheapest way to fly to all 30 major league ballparks – can you believe that it was just under $2,400?! That’s criss-crossing the country, as they worked off of MLB schedules and the 14,154 mile cheap trip checked in at $2,368 while the 9,004 mile trip wound up at $2,970. Perhaps baseball isn’t your cup of tea, then try their tool for finding the best deal to follow your favorite NFL team on the road. If you are more into outdoor adventure, then take a look at their Adventure Planner which lets you select from hiking, biking, camping, diving, kayaking and surfing and then see several top locations for your favorite activity overlaid with the best airfares to nearby airports. Finally, my favorite Hopper tool is the ability to see reports on flights from a selected airport, or flights between certain city pairs. This is something like what Farechase used to offer before Bing removed those results from their Bing Travel, but they are better in that they have more detail and depth are worth exploring to see what trends are going on in the world of travel. See below for a chart of the cheapest flights from Salt Lake City and digging deeper into the report shows routes with the highest demand and capacity – good things to know and keep on top of for any destination marketer – thanks Hopper!

Hopper SLC report

111108-google-logo-plus

Don’t be Afraid to Fail

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“Don’t be afraid to fail” is a common refrain in business. It’s one which is easier to say than to do. This is why it’s so interesting to see how one of the most powerful companies in the world, Google, really does act out this mantra.

As a recent example, here’s a recent Google+ post in which it was announced that Google search results will no longer display authorship results:


Google has used authorship as a ranking factor in their search results dating back to about 2011, but they have been phasing it out over the past year or so. There’s a great read on the history of authorship for search in Search Engine Land if you want to know more about how this project came about and then wound down.

 

To see how many projects have been “retired”, I do hesitate to call them “failures”, see the list of products from Google on Wikipedia and see the “Discontinued Products and Services Section.” It is quite impressive and quite telling in that many of the products have made re-appearances or been incorporated into other successful projects.

A company with the resources and size of a Google can afford to have many of their efforts not fully succeed because they have so many that do succeed and several that wind up being home runs or even moon shots. But, every company should remember that they cannot succeed until they have tried and not being afraid to fail is the first step in this process.

Powder Photo

Dare to be Different

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Powder PhotoThis is something that always gets me in ski resort marketing.

  • The powder shot
  • The happy family
  • The carved turn on a groom groomer
  • The rail slide
  • The big hit in the park
  • The refreshing aprés ski beverage

Do all the ads you see for resorts feature the same looking people doing these things? I thought so. Seth Godin recently wrote a post on this topic about the ads he saw in an issue of Vanity Fair in which out of 108 ads, 84 featured models were all Skinny, Sad and Pale. Sound similar? What to do? Find a new way to market based upon analytics that move the business forward. Each resort has features that sets it apart from others as well as things that drive revenues above and beyond others – find those points and use them to build unique and new marketing pieces.

Photo Credit: Eric Hoffman
Dashlane Dashboard

Passwords, yeah, passwords.

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Passwords are the necessary pain in the backside that we know are very important, but that also cause us all to waste a lot of time trying to remember our passwords, and trying to make sure we change them when prompted, yet keep from wasting large chunks of time when we have to “recover” a password that we forgot. And yes, when passwords are used by someone who shouldn’t have them, it can certain wreck a lot of havoc – yikes!

As someone who is online nearly constantly during my work day, and quite a bit outside the office as well, I have to admit that my personal password management has not been great until the past few months. When the Heartbleed Bug surfaced back in April, I looked at how I managed my personal passwords and realized that I was following all the traps that I should have avoided:

  • Using the same password on multiple sites
  • Not using strong passwords on some sites
  • Having some passwords on note applications or other non-secured placements
  • I have used 2-step verification on the sites which provided it and continue to do so wherever possible

I quickly realized that I needed to buck up and get a password manager above and beyond those basic ones built into Chrome and Safari. I did a good amount of research and decided for my cross-OS needs (Mac/Android) that I would try Dashlane. It isn’t perfect, but it generates strong passwords, has a great dashboard to show me where I need to improve my passwords and has helpful plugins for Chrome and Safari browsers (the 2 that I most typically use, there is a Firefox extension as well). Now that I’m several months into using a password manager, I have a great way to make sure my wife can get access to critical passwords as well as peace of mind that my very important internet logins are a lot safer than they used to be – even though, as you can see in the screen shot, I still have a number of passwords to change out as I had used the same password on a number of site, and I still have to make several passwords a bit more secure, but I don’t have any compromised passwords and I have the somewhat comforting words of “Kind of Safe” for my

140818-drone

Drones and Ski Resorts

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Drones, particularly those that can film video or still photos, present a huge opportunity for ski resorts. With that opportunity come many challenges as well.

It wasn’t many years ago that the only way to get quality aerial images and video was to head up in a plane (tough to get video and not easy for photos either) or a helicopter (better for photos, but need a special mount to get usable video). We even tried a small tethered blimp which could lift a decent digital camera, but it didn’t work out for usable images.

Fast forward a few years and technology has advanced tremendously and a drone that can lift a GoPro (another impressive technological improvement), which can shoot HD video at impressive quality levels, is within the price range of most resorts and people that patronize the resorts. We are now seeing more and more amazing videos and photos of ski resorts that we never have seen before which has made for some great resort and user-generated content.

The part that gives me pause, is that these drones, while they work well, are not infallible, and many people seem to think that because they have flown their drone a few times in a field, or neighborhood park, that they are now ok to fly their drones wherever they choose, over crowds of people, operating machinery (like chair lifts) and roads with moving traffic and the like. This might not sound too bad, but there have already been multiple incidents of drones crashing in relatively controlled circumstances, take a look at this couple on their wedding day:

And when you go to watch a “Great Bull Run”, you would think you might be more concerned with bulls than with a drone:

And for those who choose to fly more powerful models, there can be even more severe consequences, read this article about a New York man who was flying a larger RC helicopter and was killed when it crashed into him, “and the top of his head was sliced off.”

If that hasn’t scared you off, be sure to practice (a lot) with your drone before taking it anywhere near a ski resort, fly where people aren’t and then, follow the directions of the map below to be sure you are flying your drone somewhere that isn’t prohibited:

Featured Image Courtesy of Flickr user Don McCullough
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