Posts tagged resort marketing

Test Tubes

Do you test?

Test TubesBy asking “Do you test?” I mean, do you do A/B or multivariate testing online – whether it’s on your website, email, online ads or social networks? I know that we’re all busy with various projects, writing content, updating backends and the like, but testing is a sure fire way to show that you’re doing your job as an online marketer by demonstrating that what might seem like simple changes can really make a difference to a stated goal.

A wonderful website to see the impact of online teting is a website called Anne Holland’s Which Test Won? One of my favorite tests from the site is one in which Delta tested a form vs a grid, this one was a bit obvious to me (particularly as a fairly frequent user of the Delta website), but there are tons more, along a new test to guess at each week.

As I’ve mentioned before, I look at this blog as a way to test various ideas for myself. An example of this is my posting schedule which I upped to once every other day earlier this summer. I’ve noticed that this has provided more views as well as more RSS views, but it’s still been limited to Monday through Friday with minimal traffic on the weekends. This isn’t unexpected as the topics I cover are ones that I think are more relevant to the work week. So, I’ve recently changed to posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to see if this schedule makes for more consistent traffic. Guess what this is – A TEST! 🙂 We’ll see how it does in another month or so…I’m predicting the three posts per week schedule will have more consistent readership than once every other day – what do you think?!

Photo credit: Flickr user Horia Varlan
The PhoCusWright Conference

The Resort Marketing Blog is Going on the Road

There’s going to be a lot of cutting edge travel news and information coming to this blog in mid-November. That’s because I’ll be blogging from The PhoCusWright ConferenceThe PhoCusWright Conference in Phoenix on November 16-18. The best part is that I’ve been chosen to take part in their New Media Summit in which PhoCusWright offers accredited travel industry bloggers special access to all parts of the conference. I’m excited and humbled to see my name on a list of travel and tourism bloggers that I have been reading and learning from for years, including Tim Hughes, Jessica Spiegel, Stephen Joyce and many many more.

I haven’t attended a PhoCusWright event yet, but I’ve heard and read many wonderful things about them, and I see that they’re promoting a chance to get $500 off the conference registration fee simply by leaving a comment on their Chaos Calls video page. If you’re still not convinced, take a peak at the full conference schedule and then tell me that this doesn’t look like a kick butt event – I hope to see you in Phoenix in November!

Which Ski Movie has done the Most for the Winter Sports Industry?

Now that “Hot Tub Time Machine has come out on DVD, it got me to thinking about which Hollywood movie has done the most to promote the winter sports industry. Take a moment and vote for your favorite!

Mt Ruapehu Lift Tower

Great Response by a Ski Resort to a “Twisted” Situation

Mt Ruapehu Lift TowerI came across the initial posting of a lift tower issue at Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand on forum section about a week or so ago. But, I hadn’t had the chance to head over to the resort’s website until just recently. It’s rather obvious from the photo at right that the issue at hand is a lift tower that’s out of commission.

There is a listing of ‘Headlines‘ on the resort’s website in which there are already four updates on how the resort is rapidly dealing with the replacement of the tower (I guess this happened just prior to the resort’s opening day). With that in mind, there’s a line in the first post about this incident in which someone writes, “The good news is the snow cover for this time of the year is excellent as illustrated in attached photos taken today around the site of the damaged tower.” You have to admire whoever wrote that for trying their best to accentuate the positives! 😉 In any case, I think it’s pretty amazing that it now sounds like they may have this lift back up in another week (for well under three weeks total repair). So, in addition to the excellent work by their maintenance team, the marketing group has done a fine job communicating the issue and resolution steps as well – great job!

Photo credit: Mt Ruapehu
Lift ticket

Lift Ticket Opportunities

Lift ticketThere are a lot of resorts that are moving to using either RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or other plastic, credit card-style ticket stocks and moving away from the old paper, or paper with adhesive style tickets. There are a lot of benefits, in particular, to the RFID system in terms of CRM, with labor savings in ticket scanning staff, along with accuracy of scanning, but are there personal touches that are being missed?

I recall, and still once in awhile see, people wearing a sheaf of paper tickets on their ski coats and I used to love the funny and sometimes cryptic messages that resorts would print on their tickets. But don’t paper tickets also give a resort the opportunity to give guests a discount on a secondary revenue stream, like rentals, or food or even a return visit? There’s also the chance to solicit consumer research through online surveys, or even to just direct visitors to a resort’s various online points of presence.

While I’m not sure how well these ideas can be implemented on the smaller card-style tickets, I certainly think it’s a lot more effective than just printing the days’ date and time like a credit card receipt. Any other ways to use some of that great real estate and location of a lift ticket to a resort’s marketing advantage?

Photo credit: Flickr user _rockinfree

The Passion Principle

One of the things I love about being in marketing at a ski resort is that we have an incredible resource to tap: the passion of our customers. This isn’t true of many industries, but in sports it’s often something that a brand can really get some great mileage out of if done right. Here’s an extremely well executed example of a brand taping deep into that passion:

This makes me drool drool for the once every four year spectacle that is the World Cup – even though I’m a red-blooded American who lives for Football, Baseball, Hockey and Basketball. How can ski resorts capture some of this passion? After all the Winter Olympics were just a few short months ago…

Best and Worst - it's not Just Ski Resorts

Thoughts on SAM’s Best/Worst Advertising 2010

Sam Rufo, one of the authors of Ski Area Management magazine’s article on the Best/Worst Advertising of 2010, was kind enough to volunteer to ‘guest host’ this past week’s #mrktchat Twitterchat. For anyone who isn’t familiar with what a TwitterChat is, please take a quick read of Sam’s excellent description on her blog post, “TwitterChat 101“.  We had a good discussion about the ratings, but to some extent I think we just glossed the edges a bit, in that we never really delved very deeply into what the article.

Best and Worst - it's not Just Ski ResortsI don’t want to get into the debate of what a best/worst list is all about, after all everyone seems to do them (note, the image is just for an example, I’m not a reader of Star’s 55 Best and Worst Beach Bodies!). The article had a lot of positive and negative things to say about a variety of resort marketing efforts and called out a number of trends:

After combing through this season’s ski area ads in print, broadcast and online sources, SAM found standout campaigns in all channels, as well as some ho-hummers. We looked at branding, messaging and consumer response, and some of the most powerful advertising still derives from print and broadcast media. Creativity knows no boundaries.

Resorts that had a clear understanding of their customer demographics and the audience for each medium were able to engage, inspire and attract followers. But beyond showcasing deep powder, scenic vistas and après-ski activities, more areas are exploring their inner selves—their “social brand”—and these efforts often produced the most memorable and compelling messages.

Resorts express their personalities in a variety of ways: profiling the people who work there, showcasing the lifestyle of the locals, and using major events, from town festivals to snowboard competitions. Social media add a new strategy: letting your customers define the place in their own words and images. This creates a human connection with undeniable authenticity.

This all sounds great, but it doesn’t fully address the biggest thing advertising is about – accomplishing strategic goals and objectives. If a resort is just trying to drive database growth, then I’d say Mountain High did well with 20k plus acquisitions; even then, are these really consumers that will spent or will spend money at that resort or just a bunch of freeloaders that signed up for a contest? It’s awful hard to say one way or another as an outsider looking in.

As an interactive marketer, I’m also a bit disappointed in the examples presented as great interactive campaigns. Maybe it’s because there just isn’t enough room to go into Northstar and Sierra at Tahoe’s behavioral campaign, whoops think I meant to say re-marketing campaign, nah I like the description behavioral targeting. 😉 I thought the summaries of the Copper and Jay Peak campaigns were adequate, but to include a screen cap and a print creative for these two progressive interactive campaigns seems almost criminal – at least give us a link, I’m sure the resorts would be more than happy to post or provide creative for this piece. And I won’t even touch on the Social Media section of the piece because by only listing the ‘worst’ I can’t find anything to discuss.

I wish there was more discussion of how these advertising campaigns fit into each resort’s overall strategic objective. How these campaigns focus on each resort’s target demos and to what level of success, because as the article’s authors state in the 2nd paragraph quoted above, the most successful marketing will attempt to appeal directly to consumers – in essence creating buyer personas and using them to create advertising that is most effective as it is the most targeted.

I do find much of the thought that went into this article to be very spot on, and in most cases the authors did a great job of drilling down to specifics in terms of what was ‘best’ or ‘worst’ about a particular campaign. Keep it up Sam, Ken, David and Katie! BTW, what about the Vikings go Skiing ad from Capital One, I really enjoy this one even now – definitely a solid add to the ‘Best of 2010’ in my book!

Photo Credit: CC2 licensed image by Flickr user Slava

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 is number one – woohoo! So, the lesson here is to be aware of the power of blogs on targeted Google search results.

Social Media Upends Ski Resort Marketing

Hmm, some post title eh? Not really. It’s actually the title of an Ad Age video of Vail Resorts’ CEO Rob Katz speaking at the Cable Communicators forum in Denver a few weeks ago. It made some ripples through the online resort marketing community when it was published and Katz does make some solid points in the clip, but more than anything, I think that he’s mainly just acknowledging a global shift in marketing and advertising that is already well underway. While it’s encouraging to hear an industry leader in the ski resort business verbalizing this paradigm shift, as an interactive marketer, I would be concerned if he wasn’t saying these things. What do you think?

One week to go!

091113-liftThe lifts will start turning for the 2009-2010 winter season at Park City Mountain Resort exactly one week from today at 9:00am! They will keep turning for 141 days, churning to a stop after closing day on April 11, 2010. For the operations departments – snowmaking, lifts, grooming, F&B, etc. this means that they will be front and center for the next, nearly five months (not that they haven’t been busting tail to get things ready for opening either).

For those of us involved in marketing and sales who have been working hard to put together and enact the marketing and sales plan, we can’t sit back and rest on our laurels. We have to keep pushing hard to ensure that everyone gets the word about how the season is unfolding (snow message, snow message, snow message), and just as importantly to work to engage with the skiers and riders that are at, planning to go to or have been to the mountain.

It seems to me that resort marketing and sales departments have traditionally turned to a more receptive mode once the season has started – sure, they have their snow reports and such – but they really have not kept their marketing program moving forward and evolving as the season has been in progress. With the big push into social media this year by resorts, there will be a lot of new things for resort marketing departments to really key on, here are five:

  1. Keep the flow of information in regards to conditions and updates coming on a much more frequent – real time if possible.
  2. Monitor online for real-time mentions of their resort and respond as appropriate – but this must be done in a very timely basis.
  3. Adjust marketing as needed to ensure that marketing messages don’t get stale – this is easily accomplish in online marketing – and also keep revising campaigns and testing.
  4. Check that internal communications keeps up with external, one of the toughest things about social media is ensuring that a companies employees are as up to date as its customers. A ski resort with staff all over a mountain can wind up in a situation with employees who don’t have radios, being not as informed as skier or riders who have smart phones with Twitter, Facebook, text or email updates.
  5. Be flexible – “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” are evolving and moving forward at a speed that nobody can readily predict or even fully keep up with. Who would have predicted Google 12 years ago, Facebook 8 years ago, YouTube 5 years ago or even Twitter just a year or two ago would have the tremendous reach and impact that they do today?!

To wrap up, I hope that NSAA President Michael Berry is correct in his prediction for a good season, and I  think that as usual, if it snows early and often, it will be a lot easier for ski resorts to attain that projection, but we can all hopefully attain a greater degree of success if we keep in mind a few of the things I note above. Think snow!!! 😀

Photo Credit: Me, posted to the PCMR Flickr account
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