Archive for January, 2010

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Social Networks for Ski Resorts – Yelp

Yelp logoI recently read the story “You’ve Been Yelped” in February’s issue of Inc. magazine and it prompted me to get back to writing my Social Networks for Ski Resorts series that I’ve been neglecting.The article does point out some of the short comings of a user review site like Yelp, but it also nails the benefits of the network for a business that takes advantage of the tools that Yelp provides for business owners.

If you’re not aware of what Yelp is, it’s a social review site that has a core of active members that are typically quite frank, or perhaps brutal, when it comes to reviewing all sorts of local services. The nice thing is that once you ‘claim’ your business listing, you get the ability to reply to reviews either publicly or via a private message to the reviewer. Yelp even provides a great Business Owner’s Guide that will help an owner or manager respond appropriately to reviews. This is quite important because as the “You’ve Been Yelped” article describes, Yelp contributors can be quite opinionated and if they are messaged in a way that they feel is not appropriate, they are more than likely to respond publicly and vociferously. Resorts can also post additional information including photos to their profiles which once created will give you measurement of page visits and the option to post “offers and announcements” in addition to the  opportunity to create a Yelp ad.

So cutting to the chase, which ski resorts do I think are using Yelp well? Easy answer, not many at all. As a matter of fact, in a quick survey of ski resorts on Yelp I found that only my friend Milena Regos at Diamond Peak was publicly responding to user reviews (I haven’t even done any as of yet), and only a few resorts, mostly in the Tahoe area had posted “offers” to their Yelp profiles. I’m sure there are more ski resorts that are engaging with their customers on Yelp, I just haven’t been able to find them. If you know of some, please let me know in the comments section.

Travel Site Stats

December Online Travel Web Stats

I just downloaded the Hitwise Monthly Category Report – Travel (pdf) for December of 2009 and I have a couple of observations. The first based upon what brought me to the report, that 7 of 10 “Fast Movers” were ski resort web sites. Interesting, but not too surprising given the seasonal nature of the ski resort business.

The other item that jumped out at me is this graph showing how big of a trough the trend of visits to travel websites is right now, is this typical for Fall/Winter or is it a sign that travel is still in a downward trend? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Travel Site Stats

Interactive Content Editor and SEO

Here’s a quick observation on the speed of Google in terms of targeted SEO.  I recently posted about the Interactive Content Editor position that we’re in the process of interviewing for at the resort (sorry, the application process is now closed). I wound up Googling the phrase “Interactive Content Editor” as I’m in the process of fleshing out some details of the jobs’ flow and I was amazed at the results:

Yep, in just about two weeks our blog post about the job has vaulted to the top listing in Google for that exact phrase and the top five listings are all for our job posting! Wow, that’s impressive, it got me to head back to Google to check again on a search for the phrase”Resort Marketing Blog”, and, drum roll, yeah – this blog is number two and my old blog on wordpress.com is number one – woohoo! So, the lesson here is to be aware of the power of blogs on targeted Google search results.

Snow Reporting Research – Interesting, but Flawed

I saw this story about a Dartmouth study on ski resorts and their snow reporting, beguilingly titled “Wintertime for Deceptive Advertising?“, on NPR.org a few days ago. I immediately sent it to our snow reporters, so I could kid our weekend reporter about how he “exaggerates” more than our weekday reporter, but all kidding aside, I will personally vouch that they both are exceedingly careful about the information that they communicate. They get snow amounts via our grooming crew, who physically take readings from snow stakes, as well as automated weather stations which are available for anyone to see here and here. Myself and anyone else in the marketing department do not touch these numbers, unless we are making a mid-day update, which allows us to keep our snow reporting as accurate as we possibly can. I think this is important because it’s a rather simple expectation that if a resort reports a foot of new snow, that a visitor should be able to find a foot of new snow somewhere on the mountain!

This all said, I was disappointed in how the researchers used other data sources to dispute ski resorts’ snow reports, the SNODAS data is from a 30-arc-second-grid, which I’m not very familiar with, but a 930 meter by 660 meter plot is one would cover an extremely large a variable amount of topography of any ski resort and the NOAA matching data is even broader as they used stations of which, “The average matched station is 26 miles away and 160 feet below the summit for Eastern resorts and 52 miles away and 280 feet below the summit for Western resorts. Twenty-eight out of 437 resorts do not have matching weather stations due to the elevation restriction (19 of these are in Western Canada).” To put this in perspective, 52 miles away could put a weather station match for any of the Wasatch Mountain resorts in two completely different mountain ranges – the Oquirrh or Uintah mountains!

In the real world, snow reporting will vary dramatically depending upon a whole slew of variables, but the biggest issue is the fact that snow doesn’t accumulate evenly as rainfall does, due to wind, settling and many other factors. This means that snow measurements can vary greatly over the course of even just a few yards, but when a snow plot is in place, measurements will be taken from there. So, to my mind a large section of this report is missing a very important facet.

However, the numbers that show a higher amount of snowfall being reported on the weekend definitely says that many resorts do obviously feel some pressure to promote their weekend snowfall numbers which may certainly be the result of the factors described in the report…I haven’t seen this from any resorts here in Utah, but unfortunately the authors chose not to segment even by state.

Anyone else have anything to say about this report – positive, negative, indifferent…please leave a comment and let me know, thanks!

Photo Credit:

Cool job opportunity!

Are you looking for a interesting, fun and challenging job in which you’ll be working working alongside some of the smarter people (I think) in the resort industry? Check out our job listing for an “Interactive Content Editor” by visiting our jobs page, and then searching for year round jobs. The job requirements include:

– Work with marketing team to develop and implement a detailed digital editorial calendar
– Create, produce and edit videos to achieve persona-based objectives
– Research, write and edit content that relate to snowsports, mountain lifestyle and family travel
– Assign articles and multimedia projects to team members and contracted freelancers (to include writers, photographers and videographers) and manage the process of distributing across the appropriate channel
– Work with marketing team to ensure timely and accurate publication of all content and ensure messaging is consistent with corporate objectives
– Produce content to be shared on social sites
– Produce content to fulfill media needs i.e.  B-Roll video and stock photography

Please feel free to pass this posting along to anyone you think might fulfill the requirements for this job (or apply yourself) – and Happy New Year!

PS – the listing will close on January 8th, so apply soon!

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