Archive for October, 2009
Wow, this is exactly one year to the day that I first posted to the Resort Marketing blog (don’t feel obligated to click back to it as it’s pretty awful). I have to say that I’m satisfied to have made it through a year. But, I do think that there are things I’ve done well along with others I can do to improve in the coming year.
Here’s what I think I did well:
- Wrote posts that are topical and timely.
- Kept to a consistent posting schedule (this is post 81).
- Had a decent level of commenting (154).
- Started a series about the various social networks that ski resorts can use to market themselves.
- Moved from wordpress.com to my own self-hosted blog.
And here’s where I’m aiming to improve:
- Write more on other elements of resort marketing and not just digital marketing.
- Have more posts written and “in the can” in order to have good, quality, content ready and waiting for when I get busy or don’t know exactly what to write about.
- Get a guest authors to post about their Resort Marketing ideas.
- Create more post than can become a series.
- Add more photos and video that are created specifically for this blog.
As a reader of the “Resort Marketing” blog, please contemplate leaving a comment to let me know how you think I’ve been doing (what you like, ideas, if you’d like to guest post, etc.) – and most importantly, I want to extend a huge “Thank You” to you for reading!
At the event in Scottsdale I was busy absorbing a bunch of information and didn’t take the opportunity to do much networking. This year, in addition to getting a ton more great information out of the sessions, I made it a point to take full advantage of talking to as many of the insightful and smart people that were in attendance as I could.
I finally got to shake hands with (yeah I know, Swine flu whatever – there were people in white coats here so I felt safe) many people that I’ve corresponded with online, like Sonny Gill, Mack Collier, Ann Handley and Amber Naslund (if only for a brief moment), but I also had the good fortune to engage with some very amazing people including Stephanie Miller, Ron Ploof, Will Egan, Gretchen Harding and many many more.
I’m winding up with a quick vacation, so I’m still digesting many of the things that I heard at MPDM. But, my big takeaway is that there are a lot of brands doing some amazing things in the digital space but that the best approach is to (still), keep it simple, measure, adjust, and keep moving forward with anything that you do online, whether it be email, social, search or whatever. And oh yeah, I traveled all the way to Chicago to meet the energetic and enigmatic DJ Waldow, who now resides in Utah (see the photo) – sorry ’bout your Wolverines DJ!
Photo credit: MarketingProfs Live
Twitter is a very useful tool in my social networking arsenal. I find myself using it both for work and personal objectives and many times I find the two to be interconnected. To me, the most useful aspect of Twitter is the ability to see information coming across the web in pretty much real-time via my Twitter stream, or more often through Twitter search. I find a ton of fantastic links to timely content via the search and by scanning my Twitter stream (I tend to only look at the tweets from certain people) I’ve found some incredibly useful stuff that I never would have found otherwise.
To manage my Twitter accounts (my personal @eric_hoffman and work @pcski) I am currently using Seesmic Desktop (formerly Twhirl from the same developers) because it allows me to sort users and keep searches in it’s easily read column format. I like that it also allows for the stream from all of my accounts to be consolidated into one column, same as with replies and direct messages. I have a Windows phone so I’m using PocketTwit for mobile tweeting, it’s definitely not as slick as many of the other mobile Twitter apps, but it’s as good as I’ve found for my OS, it has multi-account support and does have a pretty slick kinetic interface.
Finally, I also use Twitter as a sort of cloud based note taking by virtue of using hashtags, at meeting, conferences and even online webinars. I find it helpful to be able to review my tweets once I’m done, but it also can generate interesting discussions with others who aren’t at the meeting or on the webinar and I’ve even followed conferences I couldn’t attend via their hashtags! Just a ‘heads up’ on this topic, I’ll be attending a meeting on October 21-22, so when you see a ton of tweets coming from me with #mpdm please be aware that this is what I’m doing and I’m not intentionally trying to over-tweet you!
Continuing my series on “Social Networks for Ski Resorts,” let’s talk about another marquee player. Facebook is one more “no brainer” social network that ski resorts should be using. As with many of the social networks, the question is not if, but rather how?
In my mind, Facebook is one of the best social networks for ski resorts because the tools and the community are very well established and easy to use. Creating a fan page is quick and easy and the various tools to import blog posts, images and video are just as simple to setup. Facebook also offers up “Insights“, a nice analysis tool for fan pages The one big quirk with Facebook is that because it’s a closed network, there are limits to how a brand can interact with it’s fans and possibly the big on to me is that it’s not searchable for brand mentions in the Facebook network.
Which ski resorts do I think are using Facebook well?
- Diamond Peak – I know the Marketing Director here and think she’s doing a great job of using a variety of things, but in particular a “Where’s Waldo” style contest to drive interest and engagement on the Diamond Peak Facebook fan page.
- The Canyons Terrain Parks – It’s great the way The Canyons is using this terrain park centric fan page to create a high level of engagement with the core audience for their park users. I also like how they are posting ‘behind the scenes’ things to really keep visitors coming back for more.
- Whistler Blackcomb – With well over 18k fans, this is the most ‘faned’ of any of the ski resort fan pages that I’ve found on Facebook. Lots of interaction, contests and info keep the feed fresh.
- Valle Nevado – It’s not just North American resorts than are doing good things on Facebook, check out the action on the fan page for this Chilean favorite. My spanish is awful, but from the volume of posts and comment, this page is doing great.
There was much anticipation in the social media world last week as the FTC came out with their newly updated Guide covering endorsements and testimonials in advertising (PDF) – it was time, they were last updated in 1980! The implications of this update are covered very nicely in this Slidehare version of a webinar from WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association):
It will be interesting to see how the travel and tourism industry, in particular ski resorts, adopts these updated guidelines. To me this is because ski resort PR has traditionally involved offering up anything from a comp day ticket up to an entire “Fam trip” to journalists or other interested parties that providing coverage of the resort. Resorts typically have policies about who might receive these comps, but don’t require any sort of disclosure (at least that I’m aware of).
From now on, I think that resorts should require some sort of signed document at time of ticket pick up, stating that the person using the product will disclose the comp as per the new FTC guidelines. The difficult part for ski resorts and travel/tourism in general is that there are many journalists who aren’t covered under the guidelines for when they are writing for their media outlet, but those journalists also have their own blogs now which are covered by the guidelines.
An additional element of this guideline update will be the off-hand mentions on other social networks like Twitter or Facebook by people that have received comp tickets or passes such as “Great day on the slopes at ____” because according to the guidelines, that needs to have disclosure. This will not be easy to ensure and I know that many of these will slip through the cracks.
And, I haven’t even touching on the myriad of review sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp which already have their own review policies in place, but now may wind up being compelled to work with the FTC to ensure appropriate disclosure of any “material connection” to anyone writing reviews.
I know that many brands and bloggers will, both intentionally and unintentionally, push the envelope on these new guidelines so it’s going to be interesting to watch. But, to me, the key takeaway regarding these new guidelines for ski resorts is to be sure to be completely transparent and disclose any “material relationship” online and also monitor to ensure that people that have these relationships with your resort are doing so as well. What do you think about how ski resorts should adopt the new guidelines?
I’m trying to figure out exactly what the heck is going on this fall with so many resorts opening before the leaves even fall off the trees. I understand that Loveland Ski Area and A-Basin (both high in the Colorado Rockies) are usually leading the charge, but wow, Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard (under an hour from the Vegas strip) just missed out to Loveland by a few hours, both opening this past Wednesday while A-Basin and Boreal in California open today. According to the “Skiing Examiner“, this is the earliest for Loveland in 40 years and the earliest openings ever for A-Basin, LVSSR and Boreal.
So, what in the world is going on with these early openings? Here are a couple of quick thoughts and questions:
- Is the rush to open so early this season driven by the economic turmoil our nation’s economy is still recovering from – are resorts anxious to open early for the “positive PR” that it brings?
- El Nino – bring it on!
- Will these resorts be able to continue operations throughout the fall or will they need to close and then reopen once winter begins?
- That’s going to be a ridiculously long season at the Basin, if they make it through til June (like they often do) that will mean that they’ll be skiing and riding over nine months!
- I’d be so screwed if I lived by one of those resorts – I still have to rake my leaves and put the patio furniture away, ugh!
What do you think of this batch of super early openings? Let me know if the comments below.
If you haven’t seen any of the “Shift Happens” videos, and even if you have, I highly recommend checking out the latest in the series, “Did you know 4.0”. Even as a person that is very involved in the digital space, I’m always impressed by the stats and figures that are shown in these videos. In fact, I personally am reminded of the Mac SE I got in college (yes, I’m that old) with it’s massive 20 MB internal hard drive and speedy 8 MHz processor as I have my (2 year old) phone sitting next to me with 96 MB of built in memory and a 400 MHz processor. What were the specs of the first computer that you owned???
So, take a few minutes to watch this clip and as you do, try to keep in mind the intentions of the producers of the clip, that we all need to recognize that our world is changing rapidly and that it’s not just for us, but also for our kids, that we need to continually keep abreast and ahead of trends and directions in technology. Enjoy!
I don’t get the opportunity to attend many conferences, but last year I was lucky enough to attend the first Marketing Profs Digital Mixer in Scottsdale (Email and Social Media: True Love Always is my all time favorite session at any event – photo is of that panel). It was such a great experience that I made sure that I could make it to Chicago for the Marketing Profs Digital Mixer 2009 coming up in under three weeks.
I’m confident the 2nd Mixer won’t be like the first one in that I know that I won’t have another conversation with Chris Brogan about Gary Vaynerchuk that started in the restroom and wound up in the hallway for 20 minutes. But, I’m positive that same openness and high level of engagement amongst all of the attendees will once again be a key ingredient in the MPDM.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to at MPDM 2009:
- Getting more of the energy and motivation that came from hanging around a group of such motivated and engaged people.
- A check up our digital marketing strategy and tactics – I want to be sure I’m not missing any low hanging fruit in our 2009-10 plan.
- Having Mack Collier review our blog and blogging strategy – this time in person!
- Finding ideas for work and myself that I never would have come across otherwise, from one of the sessions, the 1 on 1 sessions or the great networking that goes on.
I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting a bunch of people at the Mixer, if you’re going, please feel free to give me a shout out either in this posts’ comments, or on Twitter @eric_hoffman and finally, if you follow me on Twitter, let me give you a “heads up” that there will be a few Tweets coming from me with #mpdm in them on October 21 and 22!