Archive for December, 2008

Ski vacation this year?

I’m wondering what your plans are for a winter ski (or snowboard) vacation this year – to Park City or to any other ski resort destination:

Also, please feel free to leave a comment about why you are or are not traveling – thanks!

Did you 'catch' this?!

One of the most outrageous football catches I’ve ever seen (be sure to wait for the slo mo to truly see how great this catch was):

Yummy and Delicious

I’ve been using the Delicious social bookmarking service for nearly two months and I am really enjoying it. As a matter of fact I wish I could convince more of my peers to jump on and use it because of how easy and helpful I think it is. Here’s what I like:

  1. I can access all of my bookmarks from any computer and I won’t lose any if I change browsers or my computer crashes!
  2. Use tags to filter and sort bookmarked pages.
  3. Tags are automatically suggested based upon your existing tags as well as those that other users use for a page.
  4. Sharing of  bookmarks with friends that are in your Delicious network is as easy as clicking on the network for:<username> tag.
  5. Installing the Internet Explorer or Firefox add-ons takes the whole Delicious experience to another level of ease and usefulness, personally I love the feature that alerts you when someone bookmarks a page a tags it for you.
  6. I enjoy browsing through Delicious just to see what other users have bookmarked, kind of like StumbleUpon but without the slot machine pull aspect (although I have been known to stumble a bit every now and then)!
  7. It’s also fun to find the Delicious account of someone you know or are interested in and check out what they’ve bookmarked. Please feel free to browse mine at http://delicious.com/eric_hoffman
  8. And you always have the ability to keep selected pages private.

There are many other social networking tools out there, but Delicious is quick to learn, easy to use and very helpful, I give it a solid A.

Photo Credit: Autumn Sweater

Social media peeps are cool

081218-blogThe Park City Mountain Resort blog that I helped to launch, and am a contributor to, was reviewed today by social media guru Mack Collier as part of his Company Blog Checkup series and I’m happy to say that we did came out pretty darn good! Of course, I wish we could have aced the “check up,” but I knew that our blog could use some improvement and also that I’m not always the one to see the changes that could or should be made. Here’s the summary that Mack gave us:

Content: 27 (Out of a possible 35) – I like how the blog is currently positioned to cover the current slope conditions. I would like to see more videos as I think these are also a promotional vehicle for the resort.

Comments: 31 (Out of a possible 35) – Very active comments section. I’m not completely sold on bloggers replying directly to each comment in the comment, but the sheer volume of comments from the readers, and the promptness of replies from the bloggers, is impressive.

Posting Schedule: 8 (Out of a possible 15) – Looks to be decent now, but big gaps in the offseason, would try to work on closing those.

Sidebars: 10 (Out of a possible 15) – Pics of the bloggers at top of blog makes this score. Also like the weather-related links.

Total Score: 76 (Out of a possible 100)

The rest of the post is very informative too and has given me some great ideas for continuing to evolve and improve our blog.

It’s well worth mentioning that the reason Mack reviewed our blog, was because of a referral from his friend Sean Howard, who had written a post called The Role of Messy in Social Media on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog on which I had left a comment. Sean looked up our blog, thought that Mack might like to review it, and was kind enough to pass along a note which got the ball rolling. This just affirms what I’ve been learning about social media and the people that participate in it – they’re really cool!

Time for fun!

Here we are, remembering what it’s all about:

Shot this morning, (you can catch a glimpse of me skiing in the red coat behind Nikki)…thanks to Erik for shooting and editing, Dogger for guiding, Matt and Nikki for modeling, JT, Allison and Steph for driving and Billy for letting us get up there!

Game On!

It’s been snowing all day and we’re all hoping that this will wind up being a big Utah powder dump. That’s because it’s  time for us to dial in our game and get ready for what we’re hoping will be a Holiday crowd of happy skiers and riders. I’m feeling a bit pessimistic as I look at the current economic news of  doom and gloom that’s hanging over our country and know that it will impact business at the resort. A great summary of current trends in the mountain resort business can be found the Industy News article, “Down but not Out: That’s the Latest Snapshot of North American Bookings,” and as you can tell from the title, it’s not the brightest outlook.

This Fall, I’ve been pushing harder than ever at my job: deploying emails, kicking our blog into high gear, polishing the resort’s presence on a slew of social media sites, employing a variety of social media monitoring techniques, getting our video library up to par along with the usual chunk of tasks I have at the start of every ski season. In addition, it feels like I’m always thinking of something I should try, grabbing my laptop and plugging away at it until the wee hours…I know much of it won’t amount to anything in terms of business revenue, but I know it would gnaw at me if I didn’t.

The big picture tells me that without snow, there’s not all that much I can do to impact visits, because without snow our business doesn’t even open. So, now that snow has come, I’m going to get out, make some more turns, try to forget about the struggle at hand for awhile and hopefully “they will come.” And if it does turns out that not as people come this winter, then I guess it’s just more turns for me.

Photo credit: jaiel

Social Media Happenings in Utah

Some neat things are happening in the social media world here in Utah, with a number of meetups/tweetups and more coming up in the next weeks.

Tomorrow night in Orem, there’s a Tweetup at CoworkUtah. Jack @coworkutah has a slate of top notch Twitter users that will share their tips on Twitter and the CoworkUtah crew will provide pizza and beverages. Directions and more info is downloadable via this event pdf.

Even more exciting is the first ever meeting of the Social Media Club of Salt Lake City on January 15, with monthly meetings to follow on the third Thursday of every month.  Social Media Club is a national organization, based out of San Francisco, with numerous local chapters throughout the country, and their tagline of, “If you get it, share it.” is what they’re all about.

Down the road a bit more is the 2nd PodCamp SLC, scheduled for March 27. There are not a lot of details on this event yet, but the organizers of the 1st ever PodCamp (which was held in Boston) Chris Brogan and Christopher S. Penn, are two of the more interesting people in social media today and I know that any event following in those footsteps will be very interesting.

I highly encourage anyone who is at all interested in social media to attend one or more of these events because one of the most important facets of social media is meeting the people that you are interacting with online and learning from them (and with them) in face to face settings.

(Yummy) Photo credit: edseloh

Telemark Gear Review – NTN binding/Scarpa Terminator X

scarpa-in-action-bigOk, I admit it, I get out skiing quite a bit. But, due to my job, I often wind up heading out for only a run or two and therefore, I’ve tried to save time whenever I can to make the process of “gearing up” as painless as possible. I started to telemark ski about 10 years or so, and until last year, it was always a pain to get in and out of my bindings because I needed to kneel down every time I got in or out of my skis. However, last year, I made a change and got myself a set of Rottefella NTN (New Telemark Norm) bindings and Scarpa Terminator X boots, to see what it would be like to not have to do the tele-bend-over.

I quickly noticed a number of benefits to my new setup, the first being the ease of walking, as well as the comfort of, the Terminator X boots. Because of how the bindings attach, these boots no longer have the awkward “duck-bill” front that otherl telemark boots have. Secondly, I loved being able to get in and out of the bindings with easy, the NTN bindings are essentially step-in and out bindings, another unique trait. Also, I noticed a significant improvement in control of my skis from edge to edge with this pairing of boots and bindings. There is another positive feature of these bindings that I haven’t been able to fully test yet, that being the benefit of being releasable, I’ve pushed out of the bindings in practice but not yet while skiing…

So, after a season, for this frequent resort skier, the NTN bindings and Scarpa Terminator X boots were a great investment. I get in and out of my gear much quicker and I have more comfort and performance out of the deal as well! There is one item that’s bugging me and that’s the fact that I found out that Scarpa was offering to replace part of the shell on my boots for free this past summer, and although I sent them an email at the email address specified ([email protected]), I never received a response. I’m sure I’ll be fine in my boots this winter, but it would have been nice to hear back from someone to at least keep me abreast of what the replacement offer was about. In any case, I still would highly recommend this equipment, particularly to someone who telemarks and is in and out of their ski a lot.

Photo credit: (Updated 1/9/09  when I put up this pic in place of a CC Fickr shot) Matt of me skiing with my Scarpa boots and NTN bindings!

Slowly ramping up

Getting a ski resort open for the winter season isn’t a matter of pushing a few buttons, having the chairlifts turn and people hitting the slopes. There are a slew of seasonal staff members to be trained in a wide variety of positions, carpets to be cleaned, snow to be made with snowguns then pushed and groomed with snowcats, sales contracts to be fulfilled, kitchens to be stocked, vehicles (from trucks to snowmobiles) to be tuned up, chairlifts and towers to be padded and on and on.

This season has presented an even greater challenge than usual because, due to an unusually warm and dry Fall, the resorts are opening quite a bit slower than planned. There aren’t as many skier and riders on the hill generating revenue, but it also means that many people are not able to start their seasonal jobs as quickly as planned. In addition, this work slowdown is found not only at ski resorts but also at the many hotels, restaurants and shops throughout Park City.

I saw the effects of this earlier tonight when I met a friend for a beer, and the bartender (another friend) mentioned to me that she would love to baby sit for my daughter this Friday night as she was about flat broke (she’s always wanted to babysit for us as well). While I know that its not atypical for many people to be short of cash in resort towns this time of year, I feel better knowing that we’ll inject a few dollars into our town by giving my friend some cash for babysitting and spend some more money at the restaurant that we’ll be dining at.

Here’s hoping for snow soon, to get the mountains open and for everyone that’s waiting to get to work – let it snow!

Photo credit: Me (Snowcat at PCMR November 2008)
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