Archive for November, 2013

And we’re off!

Snowmaking and final slope prep

Almost ready…

Ski resorts have been starting their lifts and opening their doors for the 2013-14 winter season and this past weekend, it was time to crank things up here in Park City. It was just a few lifts and a few runs, but it was great to stretch out the ski legs a bit, to take a few runs and to see everyone out and having a great time.

More than anything, opening day is the culmination of many months of planning and effort by many different groups at each resort. From the ops teams who make the resorts function to the sales/marketing teams that got people to show up for the start of the season. As part of a marketing team, I really enjoy watching people on the first few days of the season to see if they’re enjoying their first turns as much as I am and to double-check who they are. I know that the majority of visitors the first few weeks are locals/passholders, but there seem to be more and more vacationers who come out the first weeks of the season. To me, the destination visitors are the ones to concentrate on, to see if they’re from the geographic areas that we’ve messaged and to see what messages are resonating with them.

These first bits of informal feedback usually serve to remind me that ski resorts are not just for the hard-core skiers and riders, in fact it’s the opposite, they’re really for all of us who enjoy getting outside on a cold winter day and spending time with friends, family or simply on their own sliding down a mountain covered in snow…and I for one, am very thankful that we’ve only just begun the 2013-14 winter season.

New Tools

It’s amazing how many interesting and fun ideas there are available to experiment with on the web these days. Whether it’s an upcoming social network like Snapchat or new ways to interact with our mobile devices like Google Glass or Samsung Galaxy Gear (ok this one isn’t so exciting, at least to me, but it’s a start).

In the travel world, there have been lots of efforts to create something new and unique and while it’s not  groundbreaking, the new Google Tour Builder tool is easy to use and has lots of opportunity for those willing to experiment and spend a bit of time with it. Check out a tour that I put together in just a half an hour or so this past weekend. It should only take a minute or two to experience and I would love to know your thoughts about the tour as well as about other potential uses for this software, please let me know if the comments on this post.

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Yearly web traffic trends for five major websites

Ski Resort Website Traffic – Can the Peaks and Valleys be Smoothed Out?

I’ve had this post, “leveling seasonal web traffic with content and SEO” marked in my Evernote blog post ideas swipe file, since it was published back in April of 2010 (seems like it was originally on a different blog then, but I digress). I like Mike’s ideas about trying to even out seasonal traffic to ski resort websites, but I do think it’s something that a ski resort can’t place too much emphasis upon as almost all websites see some sort of fluctuation in their traffic over the course of a year.

To show some examples of this, I pulled some traffic number from the site intelligence service Alexa:

NFL.com
nfl.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice how traffic plummets during the offseason, and then there’s one spike during the draft?

MLB.com

131111-mlb-graph

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a lot of surprise here either, aside from the fact that there’s no real bump in the offseason for baseball fans, don’t think the baseball draft will ever have the interest of the NFL draft.

Expedia.com

131111-expedia-graph

 

 

 

 

 

 

This traffic graph shows a bit more complicated picture, but one can still make out a clear drop in traffic during the 2nd half of 2012 bumping up in the first part of 2013 and then looking up through the summer travel season.

Sixflags.com
131111-sixflags-graph

 

 

 

 

 

 

This example is probably closest to most ski resorts web traffic (although in opposite seasons) in that Six Flags does the majority of its business in the summer with some business still ongoing in winter, but only at a few of its properties. Most ski resort max out their traffic in the winter but do have some summer activities that drive traffic, just nowhere to the level of winter.

I think it’s great to try to even out the valleys, but if someone isn’t looking to come out in the offseason, or start planning their trip then, it’s futile to try to lead that horse to water, because they’re not going to drink. Instead, focus on creating content that you can seed and launch to best effect as your web traffic starts to build and search engines are looking for fresh, relevant and popular content.

Email Marketing – Still as Valuable as Ever

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 8.42.19 PMThe Park City Chamber Bureau hosted their annual Fall Tourism Symposium this past week and one of the pieces of advice posited by the keynote speaker is one that I think has a lot of merit. She noted that email isn’t being used by travel companies very well. I subscribe to a lot of emails (mostly from Ski Resorts) and most don’t send consistent emails and many go months without communicating with me which really is a missed opportunity in that a person that has opted-in to an email list is someone who wants to hear from you. So if you haven’t already, pull together a content calendar and start sending your emails on a regular basis, not just when it snows big or you have a flash lodging sale.

It’s not just that people have opted-in for your emails, it’s that they now have constant access to their email inbox via their cell phone and tablets. This is one of several points made in, the article Why Email Is Still More Effective Than Social Media Marketing. I think the Social Media part was added in more to capture attention than anything else, but its main points about the effectiveness of email marketing are very salient.

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