Archive for July, 2010

Aspen Airport

Delta and Frontier Flying Away from Aspen

Aspen AirportWhat happens when things happen that are out of a marketers control? We can look to Aspen as an example this season because they will be losing at least 20% of the available seats in and out of their airport for the coming 2010-11 Winter Season, according to an article in the Aspen Daily News. The most difficult element of this, is that with both Delta and Frontier dropping service, United will now be the only scheduled commercial airline service to and from Aspen. Once competition disappears, prices almost always increase, sometimes dramatically. How Aspen travelers react to potential fare increases will remain to be seen, but certainly dropping available seats to a ski destination is not a great situation.

My first thought while reading about this is to wonder about how the local destination marketing groups in Aspen could respond. To me, this is a prime example of a situation where social media would be a means to get the word out that there are still a huge number of available seats and to perhaps even work with United to show how many flight options there still are. With this happening mid-summer, there is plenty of time to put together a campaign and still have it up well before winter bookings start to ramp up. What other sorts of things do you think Aspen could be doing to counter this news?

Photo Credit: Flickr user chuck.miser
Travel Weekly 2010 Consumer Trends Cover

Travel Weekly 2010 Consumer Trends Report

Travel Weekly 2010 Consumer Trends CoverTravel Weekly just published their 2010 Consumer Trends report and there’s a wealth of interesting information contained within it. In looking at this from a ski resort point of view, I found several key takeaways:

  • The average American traveller took 4 vacations in the past year and spent more than $3,500 on leisure travel services.
  • Travelers are segmented into 4 attitudinal groupings of which I would consider “Familias” and “Touristers” as most likely to take a ski vacation.
  • There is a drive to track down the best deal possible (consumer visit on average 20 sites before purchasing), but too much discounting by a travel provider can create cognitive dissonance in consumers and cause them to abandon their purchase.
  • Women are the travel decision makers and are more willing to spend extra to make sure the whole family is happy.
  • There is a disconnect between passion and practice in most consumers booking “green” travel.
  • “Milestone” travel is gaining momentum, in part spurred by the ease of planning these types of occasions via social networking. I found it even more interesting in that there’s great example of a heli-ski trip planned for a 50th birthday in the article.

Finally, even with uncertain economic times, this report states that 16% of all travelers state that they plan to take more overnight trips this year versus 14% that they plan fewer and even better, among affluent travelers (those w/HHI of $125k or more) 20% plan more trips versus only 9% who plan fewer. Certainly good news for us ski resort marketers who depend upon the more affluent for more and more of our vistors.

K2 Skis and Facebook

During the weekly Twitter #mrktchat conversation this past week, @motorad666 (thanks again for guest hosting), brought to light the fact that K2 Skis has been redirecting their entire corporate site’s web traffic to their Facebook page. The K2 team has a decent incentive for someone to visit their Facebook page in that users that “Like” the K2 page can then get a “sneak peek” at the 2010-11 ski lineup. Certainly a nice motivation for a die-hard fan, but not something that I think would be a real incentive for most people. But, in a comment on the All Facebook post about this, someone who I assume is a K2 representative notes:

The goal isn’t to gain fans – it is to reward K2’s Facebook friends with an exclusive preview of 2010-11 skis for 2 weeks prior to launching the new website to the public. K2 sells the vast majority of its products through local retail shops so there is no money lost in shutting down the 2009-10 site.

This strategy makes good sense to me and I hope that K2 has it in their plans to further engage with their dedicated fan-base as the 2010-11 winter season approaches and most of us get more into the hard goods buying mode. I’m not sure what it would be, but perhaps some way of letting your friends know what setup it is that you’re thinking of buying, or even a way to show them what you think they should be riding on…

Two last points in regards to this strategy, @elisabethos smartly pointed out that redirecting your entire sites to Facebook does have some SEO implications. And finally, when looking at K2 Skis page stats, their fans have increase significantly, from 24,190 on 7/17 to 31,133 on 7/23 and counting. What do you think about Facebook fan pages and what great (or not so) promotions have you seen winter snow sports companies doing?

The Power of Search and YouTube

This is another case study based upon a test I did this past weekend.

I took my wife to see Ben Folds with the Utah Symphony. No, that’s not the test, but it was a really good date night. During the concert, I took a couple of videos with my phone and posted them to YouTube. I didn’t tweet that I’d posted them or link them to my Facebook, I merely posted the videos to my YouTube account with descriptions, titles, tags and geo-tags and now within a week the stats are:

Video Views Comments Top Link followed to Video Top Link Percent of Total Views
Picture Window 59 7 YouTube Search 70.7%
Not the Same 98 0 YouTube Search 61.9%

The numbers are not “viral”, but still pretty impressive for a couple of clips that were never promoted whatsoever.

Key takeaway, tag and title your YouTube videos according to what your customers are likely to be searching for. And, for your enjoyment here’s one of the clips I shot last weekend:

Fascinating Research and Analysis of Social Networks

I recently read this presentation by Paul Adams of Google on John Battelle’s Searchblog, and wanted to share it myself as I was quite taken by a number of the things that are put forth. First, I’m amazed at how quick of a read it is at 216 slides with notes! Second, as John notes, it has a number of digs at Facebook, but I also find that Paul does put forth a number of very positive design recommendations.

Travel Data from the Bureau of Labor Stats

I found this recently released report from the Bureau of Labor Stats (BLS) while reading the Uptake Travel Industry blog. The data is quite interesting when taken from a ski resort perspective in that it illustrates how small of a chunk of the average consumer’s paycheck might go to paying for a day on the slopes. Looking at the below chart, the small blue segment indicates how much relative to other travel expenses are available for “entertainment”, it’s not much until you get to the top 20 percent of incomes, and even then it’s still the smallest fraction after transportation, loding and food & beverage:

Average annual travel expenditures as a function of household income

This seems readily apparent that there isn’t a lot of income available for lift tickets, particularly looking at the drop in overall travel expenditures from the top 20 percentile to the 2nd highest percentile – it plummets from $3,718 to $1,459, quite a significant change. The other takeaway I had is how small a percentage of overall household expenditure the average American spends on travel:

Portion of annual household expenditure spent on travel

That percentage is quite tiny at just 3%, and the other thing to make note of is that this is as of 2008, which is a year in which the recessions’ impacts hadn’t been felt much in the travel industry.

What is the takeaway from this report?  In my opinion, it’s that ski resorts should be very cognizant of the available dollars that they are going after with consumers – mainly those in the top 20 percentile of HHI. I’m sure there are opportunities to attract those in the lower quintiles, but the numbers certainly show the best chance is those in the highest, which is something that I’m sure most of us have always been well aware of.

Travelocity graphic on family policies on posting vacation information to social

Travelocity Survey Shows that Vacationers are Using Social Media to Share their Trips

A recent Travelocity survey reveals that over half of all travelers share vacation information via social media sites. The survey results are being used by Travelocity to urge travellers to use prudent measures when posting vacation items to social so as to not give miscreants any ‘hints’. See www.pleaserobme.com as a prime example of how easy this information is to procure via social networks; by the way, that site was developed by people trying to raise awareness about potential consequences of posting information online. Here’s Travelocity’s chart showing what sort of ‘policies’ families have for posting vacation information online:

Travelocity graphic on family policies on posting vacation information to social

Once we look beyond these safety issues of posting vacation details online (which are certainly important to consider) it’s easy to recognize that this is a huge opportunity for resorts to take advantage of these fifty percent plus segment of vacationers that are already sharing their experiences online via social media.

Most experts in the travel industry agree that there are at minimum three phases to a vacation: planning, experience and memories. I’d say that the vacationers that Travelocity surveyed are in the experiential and memories phase and while Travelocity notes several great ways for vacations to share their memories, I know there are a huge number of ways that resorts can help their guests share their experiences while on vacation, like signs asking guests to Tweet or share a photo on Facebook. What other ways can ski resorts leverage this growing segment of vacationers? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Favicons – Quick and Easy

Favicons are the little icons that show up in your bookmarks next to your favorite websites, or next to the website page title in your browser. They’re not much to look at, as they’re typically just 16×16 (32×32 in some cases) pixels in size, but they’re a nice way to add some additional branding to your website or blog. Most browser now support jpg and pngs for favicons, but many older browsers only support ico files – here’s a quick an easy way to create one.

Find the image or graphic that you’d want to use for your favicon and upload it to www.favicon.cc which will reduce it to a 16×16 grid which you can then edit as you deem fit, all the while being able to look at a preview. Here’s a sample of my image in the grid:

Once you have your image to where you want it, you can download it as a .ico file and then upload to the main root directory of your web site. Typically a browser will automatically request a favicon for your site if it hasn’t already been downloaded, but if you have an instance like mine, where your blog is the default content for you domain, but its content isn’t in the root directory, you may need to post some code in the header code of your theme. I also had to put the favicon in the theme directory, but that’s it for getting a favicon up for your site – enjoy!

Snow sport sales

Snow Sports Sales – Some Good News

SIA (SnowSports Industries America) recently released retail sales number (Word document download) for Snow Sports from the 2009-2010 Winter Season and it looks encouraging. While numbers didn’t quite rebound to 2007-2008’s record setting level, last season was a good bounce back from a disappointing previous season:Snow sport salesAnother interesting set of numbers from this report can be found in the sales statistics numbers:

2009-10 Sales StatisticsTwo segments stand out in posting year to year declines in sales – telemark and snowboard. Telemark isn’t a huge surprise as I personally know a number of people who are moving on from telemark to randonee/AT, as well as the fact that this segment is quite small to begin with. Snowboarding on the other hand is something that could be a concern to the winter snow sports industry. The snowboard category is much larger and has been a huge boost in filling the declining numbers of  ‘baby boomers’ who ski. The NSAA’s ‘Model for Growth’ is evidence of how the winter resort industry clearly recognizes the challenge of replacing these participants. As it’s an integral component to the future in winter snow sports, I plan on looking into the NSAA’s Model for Growth concept in a future post, but I’d love to know what you think about these retail number, please let me know in the comments!

Chart credit: SIA End of Season Summary Report

Prepare for Another Tahoe Snowcial

The date has been set (January 6-9. 2011) for the 3rd (I think) annual Tahoe Snowcial and once again, digital nomads, storytellers and other sundry hanger on’ers will converge on southern Lake Tahoe to network, learn, slide and engage in the general sort of debauchery that happens when ski industry folks get together in Nevada. I missed the first Snowcial and was hoping to get to the 2nd last season, but it was at the same time as my dad’s retirement party – truthfully, some ‘Sierra cement’ would almost have been welcome compared to the sub-zero arctic blast I got to ‘enjoy’ back in Minnesota. But, now we all have yet another chance to experience the wonderful world of “Snowcial” – check out this video to learn more:

Snowcial 2011 from Heavenly Mountain on Vimeo.

I hope I can find time to make the hop over to Tahoe as this sounds like an awesome event for those of us in the snow sports industry and there are more than a few people that I’d love to catch up with that I’m sure will be in attendance. Hope to see everyone in January!

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