Archive for October, 2010

Is Online Video Advertising an Opportunity for Ski Resorts?

Many ski resorts have embraced online video production and I expect to see more and more as we get into the coming 2010-2011 Winter Season. In fact, I’ve already posted example of a few interesting ski resort online videos:

Producing videos to show off a resort once a visitor is on your site, or a video that can be shared, or found via search is wonderful. However, a recent presentation from eMarketer got me to wondering if perhaps ski resorts should also be focusing in on online video advertising as well. Here’s the presentation:

What do you think?

Happy 2nd Birthday to the Resort Marketing Blog

It’s been two great years of blogging on the Resort Marketing blog and I can honestly say that it seems like it’s been a heck of lot longer than two years that I’ve been nurturing the blog for. In reality, it’s been 192 posts (including this one), 370 comments (plus over 3,500 Spam comments, thank goodness for Askmet), 2 blog hosts (wordpress.com and now Bluehost) and over 15,000 page views.

After starting off with a whimper with this (rather painful to re-read) first post, I like to think I found a stride of sorts. Here’s a randomly ordered top five of favorite and most popular posts on the Resort Marketing Blog:

  1. Ski Resorts on Twitter post, which may not have been the first, was the first I saw.
  2. My summary of the Marketing Profs Chicago Digital Marketing Mixer 2009, which was really cool in that we continued several conversations in the comments of the post (somehow a few have gotten loused up, I’m hopeful to fix, but not sure I can).
  3. Our New Tankless Hot Water Heater is just a fun post for me because it’s probably the only live blogging I’ll ever do, even if it was completely off-topic.
  4. Because it had the largest traffic spike that I’ve ever seen for the blog, Shaun’s Private Half-Pipe, certainly was a classic example of long tail SEO, plus it was cool to post the pic my friend randomly took of the pipe.
  5. A review of Scarpa tele boots and NTN bindings, which generated a couple of great customer service comments and gave an early boost to my faith in social media.

The Resort Marketing blog also had it’s first face lift a few weeks ago when I updated the theme from Cutline 2.2 to Mystique, which is in some ways it’s 2nd major change, the first being when I migrated it from it’s original “home” on WordPress.com to it’s current WordPress.org self-hosted place mid-summer last year. The self-hosted solution doesn’t come free like the Wordpess.com site was, but I strongly believe  it’s worth it to have the flexibility of WordPress.org, and while I do experiment with affiliate links once in awhile, I don’t anticipate turning to other forms of advertising because the hosting costs are minimal and I don’t want to distract from the focus of the blog.

Enough looking to the past – here’s to the future and to everyone that has read or commented on the Resort Marketing Blog, thank you!

Good Tweeting Knuffle Bunny

I recently attended an event in which I listened to a speaker spend some time talking how to best use social networks to your advantage. Truthfully, it made me envious to hear about free shoes, trips and the like, knowing that I know that I’ll never see anything like that by virtue of my dabbling in the social space. However, one day after said event, I had a very successful social media experience that I’d like to share as an example of a company doing a great job on Twitter.

I have a number of keyword searches setup in Seesmic Desktop, my current Twitter app of choice,  one of which is a search for “Park City” that I’ve refined with a number of qualifiers – mainly to keep the auto-post real estate tweets out of it. Today this tweet caught my eye:

Q: Where is Knuffle Bunny? A: Most likely in the van traveling to Park City, UT. En route to CALIFORNIA!
@KCTYAonTour
KCTYAonTour

My 3 1/2 year old daughter is a bunny fanatic and is a huge fan of Knuffle Bunny books (Amazon affiliate link), so having seen that Knuffle Bunny is actually  travelling to “Park City, UT” I had to ask:

@KCTYAonTour Are you performing in Park City? My daughter loves Knuffle Bunny!
@eric_hoffman
Eric Hoffman

The answer wasn’t quite what I was hoping…

@eric_hoffman Sadly not this time around. We will be in Provo, UT Nov 22-23 though! Not too far!
@KCTYAonTour
KCTYAonTour

But, I just need a little more info,

@KCTYAonTour Nope, not too far at all - tix options?
@eric_hoffman
Eric Hoffman

Which promptly got me,

@eric_hoffman KB will be performing at the Covey Center for the Arts http://ow.ly/2WBOv Tix are avail through their website. Enjoy the show!
@KCTYAonTour
KCTYAonTour

I double-checked with my wife and then snagged three of the best seats in the theater for next months show. Now bad return on investment for a few tweets that were all triggered by me seeing a random tweet. Plus, I get super bonus point with my daughter for bringing her to her first bunny musical! Well tweeted Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour. Oh, and yes, I paid full price for the tickets and didn’t even flinch because I’m sure the experience will be more than worth it.

Glass half-full

Full posts or excerpts? That is the question…

Glass half-full

Half-way or the whole thing?

I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking and reading on the topic of displaying full posts or excerpts on a blogs landing page as well as its RSS feed. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t a consensus of which approach to take. It seems like “it depends” is the way most people see it and I tend to agree. For the Resort Marketing blog, I’ve decided that I was the content to be freely distributed and easily browsed and scrolled through, so I’ve chosen to display full posts on both the landing page as well as in the Resort Marketing RSS feed. I do use a nifty WordPress plugin called RSS Footer which allows me to easily add links to the bottom of each post in the Resort Marketing blog feed which will link directly to my blog and posts like this:

Full posts or excerpts? That is the question… is a post from: The Resort Marketing Blogwritten by Eric Hoffman.

This all said, I do think there are circumstances in which excerpts makes sense as well. If your blog is a publishing center, which you have to drive traffic to, then it definitely makes sense to post strategically crafted excerpts that will drive click-throughs to your blog. If you do the same thing on your blog’s homepage that will certainly allow for more content to be displayed on the landing page. This is very important for blogs that have frequent posts and multiple authors, because if they didn’t post excerpts, content would make for a tremendously long scroll, as well as the inability to find content readily on repeat visits, great examples of this are Huffington Post and Mashable.

There is one other factor that I don’t know that people are currently paying enough attention to, and that is that more and more blog readers are looking to read via mobile devices. This means that first off, you should ensure that your blog will display well on mobile devices, and secondly that if those people are reading the RSS feed on a mobile device, they probably want to read the full post and not have to click through to the full posts. This is similar to the situation of giving people the option to subscribe to your blog via email, but then only providing the excerpts to email subscribers, I would doubt that you will find many subscribers will remain for long, and unless you have the geekiest blog in existence, there will always be people that will want to use email to subscribe over other methods and if you’re not looking out for them, you’ll lose them.

So, to sum up, my answer to my question in the title of this post is the lame, “It depends.” What to you think, is there a clear cut best practice for blogging and full posts or excerpts?

Photo credit: Flickr user Dawn Huczek
Snow groomer technology

High-Tech Ski Resorts

Snow groomer technologyA recent post titled the Top 10 High-Tech Hotels, prompted me to think about technological innovations that have been adopted by ski resorts. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, the top high tech uses by ski resorts (I haven’t tied many of these to specific resorts as many are in use at multiple resorts):

  • Epic Mix by Vail Resorts, taking RFID lift ticket scans and blending it with social media is an intriguing direction that we’ll all be watching in 2010-2011.
  • Groomers using GPS, like PistenBuly’s SNOWsat, to more effectively groom trails by optimizing mountain travel and passes on each run.
  • For skiers and riders that are searching for the best lift ticket deals, using the online only site, Liftopia is probably the best use of tech for searching out lift ticket deals.
  • Ski resorts with all-mountain cellular coverage – this one isn’t really up to an individual resort, as cell tower placement is obviously driven by cellular providers, but it can be awfully nice to have cell service around a mountain.
  • Renewable green power efforts, most notably the Jiminy Peak and Grouse Mountain on-mountain wind turbines, are a beneficial way to use technology to reduce carbon emissions as well as save money.
  • RECCO avalanche rescue technology, which allows for a beacon style rescue that uses technology that is embedded in many ski boots and clothing and will even give directional bearing to many cell phones.
  • High-speed detachable lifts, which have completely changed how we ski and ride – on the chairlift topic, does the addition of heated seats to a lift add a technological boost to lifts, or is it just something else to break?

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of how ski resorts are integrating technology into their operations, please add additional examples in the comments!

Photo credit: Flickr user Leo-setä
Voting for Readers Polls

Resort rankings – do people still pay attention to them?


Voting for Readers Polls

Vote Here

This post was inspired by the Ski Magazine’s 1st Resort Awards Gala this past weekend – which was a great party with a great vibe – it was more about the passion and direction of the sport of skiing than about the awards, which was really cool.

Ski Magazine has been doing an annual reader’s poll resort rankings for more years than I can remember while Transworld Snowboarding has been doing a their own reader resort poll (with different topics of course) for a heck of a long time as well. There are plenty of other online polls but those two are what I would consider the standard bearers for ski and snowboard resort rankings.

I recall seeing people when I went to ski shows about 10 years ago who would bring the resort ranking issues with them to the show and then dutifully visit the booths of each resort that ranked well in the categories that they had dog-eared. Having worked a similar ski show the past two years, I don’t recall seeing many people, if any wandering the show’s aisles in that manner. This leads me to ask the question in this posts title, are people still paying attention to the various resort polls and more to the point, do they pay enough attention to warrant making serious efforts to move up in the polls, or at least in the categories that a resort can get better in. By this, I mean that it’s pretty tough for a resort like Telluride to make moves on any of the Park City area resorts, but with the appropriate mountain improvements they certainly can move up in challenge or perhaps family amenities. But, even if a resort does make improvements with an eye to move up in Ski Magazine or Transworld Snowboarding’s reader polls will they see results to justify any investments?

Personally , I’m not sure that it’s worth it any longer, or that it ever really was, worthwhile to invest merely to move up in rankings. A resort should invest inline with its strategic plan and if that helps to boost rankings, hooray, but if it’s other areas that need improvement or rebuilding, so be it. Am I right or wrong?

Photo credit: Flickr user GirlReporter
Ski sweater family

Families and Skiing

Bet you thought this post would be about families and ski trips and some angle like how they’re a key demo to market to. Some other time, this photo was just too funny:

Ski sweater family

The family that skis together, _______ together.

Photo from: Poorly Dressed

Trail Maps or “Fail” Maps?

I remember collecting all the ski resort trails that could as a youngster, laying them out on top of each other, and then paging through them and imagining all of the amazing lifts and runs that I might one day ski. The lines and drawings on the maps gave me many happy hours of daydreaming back in the day, and an article about the recent “update” of Heavenly’s map set me to thinking about something that I think many of us take somewhat for granted – the trail map.

The trail map is a tool that first and foremost should guide visitors around the mountain. It should show them where terrain that will appeal to them is and how to get there. It also needs to allow a resort to manage guests around the mountain in a way that  is most beneficial for the resort, i.e. getting guests to the largest on-mountain restaurants or using lifts that are otherwise underutilized. Another element is having something that makes sense to a guests, but also looks good. It’s interesting to note that many of the most popular resorts use one artist, James Niehues, to do the background art for their maps and I was very interested to watch this CNN clip on his website that show how much passion he has for his work:

There’s also a great repository of current and old trail maps online at Skimap.org. There are some great maps that resorts are producing, but there are also some maps that I would classify as “Fails”. By this, I think that they don’t portray their resort in a manner that makes a viewer really undertand what the resort looks like and/or don’t stimulate the viewer to want to ski or ride the slopes that they portray.

To cut to the chase, here are some maps that I think fit my criteria (there are some links to pdfs and I have linked to pages that probably will change over time):

  • Heavenly – I like the new angle
  • Jackson Hole – to me this map really shows the size, both vertical and breadth of the resort
  • Sunday River – for a really wide resort, this map keeps it in perspective while staying easily readable
  • Welch Village – it’s the resort I grew up skiing at and this map does a fine job of representing the lifts and runs for a smaller hill

And here are a few maps that don’t fit my criteria (not really “fails” but the title sounded good – I really can’t hate on any trail map):

  • Nakiska – all those browns and straight computer generated lines just don’t look fun or exciting
  • Alpine Meadows – lots of green, but not much variety of hue, seems almost copy and pasted
  • Stowe – I find that the brown color of the trees on the lower half of the map dominates and just doesn’t make for fun looking map
  • Mt Ashwabay – I’m sure there’s not a lot of budget for a map, but this is to representative and awful dull

What are some examples of great and “fail” trail maps that you’ve seen, or in the past?

Follow up to Vail Resorts Purchase of Mountain News Corp

Back in May, there were some ripples after Vail Resorts announced that it was acquiring Mountain News Corp – see my post on the purchase and some of the comments it got. However, I recently browsed upon a Conduct Protocol which was published in Vail Resorts Corporate Blog that puts concerns about the two companies editorial or advertising becoming unfairly intermingled to rest. It goes straight to the point with the first item of the protocol stating:

MNC will treat Vail Resorts’ hotels, resorts, businesses and properties (“VR Properties”) in the same manner it treats businesses that are competitive with Vail Resorts (“VR Competitors”).

This seems pretty clear cut to me and the rest of the compact goes into further detail as to how the two companies will continue to act as separate entities. Read this Conduct Protocol for yourself and I’m interested to hear if anyone thinks this could be interpreted otherwise.

Double Rainbow – Double Diamond

There have been nearly 17 million views of this shaky cam amateur video with some rather excited commentary of a “huge” double rainbow:

In our “viral” crazy world, why not borrow a little something from this video’s popularity and create a video that plays off the passion of the original but with a winter resort twist? Stowe Mountain Resort took a photo, did a little Photoshop and created a nifty little video that does exactly this:

Well played Stowe, I look forward to seeing more videos in this vein – what other resorts are doing a good job with online video?

HT to @KaufmanwithAK for tweeting about this clip.

Edit – sorry for not double checking this post once it went live, but for whatever reason the videos disappeared, I just re-embedded them, sorry.
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