I’m Moving!

Welcome to my new and ‘improving’ blog. I’m currently in the process of moving my blog from ericinparkcity.wordpress.com to here – www.ericinparkcity.com. I’ll be posting in both blogs to announce once the move is complete, but for now it’s a work in progress, so please feel free to browse around, but be aware that things may change or even break at anytime!

I missed an Anniversary and I don’t mind.

Ok, I did remember my Wedding Anniversary last week, which is far and away the most important anniversary in my life, but I completely missed the fact that my one year Anniversary on Twitter was almost a week earlier. When I finally realized the missing date and looked back at my first batch of Tweets it reminded me why I shouldn’t worry – there’s nothing there to remember! Lesson to take from this – be memorable and then perhaps you’ll have reason to celebrate. Read ‘em and weep (well, I did at least):

my-first-tweets

You know where the fish are, now to get them to bite.

The idea of “Fish where the fish are” – listening and monitoring to figure out where your customers are in social media before jumping in – is a basic and important business concept. I remember reading abut this in Chris Brogan’s eBook several months ago, but have been drawn back to the fishing analogy by a number of recent posts that I’ve run across.

I think that the fishing parallel can be drawn even further as more people and brands moving into social media. The rate of change is very rapid right now, at the Social Media Club of Salt Lake meeting this past Thursday, it was mentioned that 6,000 businesses are creating Twitter accounts every day. With that many more fishing setups, there are bound to be more hooks being dropped into the part of the pond that you’re trying to fish in. With more options, fish are going to be more picky. Sure, a fish might still snap up the hook closest to it, but they’re at the point where they’re ignoring a lot of hooks and looking more for the ones with the bait that they’re most interested in. Also, many are at the point where they won’t nibble unless they’re hungry – so both content and timing are more critical than they ever have been.

In order to figure out what will trigger your fish to bite, you need to continually monitor your analytics using short url services like ow.ly and bit.ly. See what posts or tweets people are interested in and test new ones to figure out why. Another shortening service, su.pr, even recommends the best times for you to fish based upon past click-through rates (be aware that this service is still is beta mode at this time, follow @stumbleupon for information on when it will be rolled out further).

There will be days when the fish aren’t biting as well as some when you can’t throw your hook back in quick enough, but the days of only a few people fishing have drawn to a close and we all have to be careful to make sure we’re fishing with the right setup and at the right time.

Photo credit: modomatic

Inbound Marketing for Ski Resorts

In my San Francisco Inbound Marketing Takeaway post, I noted that I was putting together some thoughts on how to leverage inbound marketing in the resort industry. Finally, over a month later, here it is!

Inbound marketing is essential for any business because the ski business is seasonal and the participants so passionate the opportunities are tremendous.

The content element of inbound marketing is an aspect that ski resorts can easily leverage. Most are already taking lots of photos and videos, the next step is to publish them to social sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Even better, give customers a way to publish their own content to a common channel that can be displayed on a page on the resorts’ website. For example, the photo above was taken by a guest at Park City Mountain Resort and tagged so that I could find it and insert it here via Creative Commons license rights.

Another technique is to use blogging and micro-blogging platforms to convey current conditions with more personalized information than is possible using snow report pages, emails or texts. Through the use of hashtags (the # sign)  resorts can even leverage reports from guests and aggregate them in a common stream. Resorts should be sure to use these techniques to interact/engage with their customers as well as to direct them to useful and relevant content. In addition email should be integrated with these efforts  and with segmentation and triggers it can really continue to personalize communications with customers.

Lastly, resorts should be very strategic in how they do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on their web content and make sure that the keywords and phrases that they’re optimizing for are directly in line with their overall business strategies. By this, I mean that rather than optimizing for general terms like “ski resort” a resort should optimize for more specific items, like “best beginner terrain park”. They should also tag appropriate photos with this and create a video showing off their park – of course a blog post and some tweets linking back to this content this should be done as well to fully leverage the inbound marketing potential of this content.

These are just a few quick examples for resorts and I plan on drilling down further on more specifics on using networks like Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. Are there any additional social networks out there that you think are just ripe for use by ski resorts?!

Photo Credit: bgautrea

Market Research – AKA our trip to Hawaii.

Sometime you have to get away from your desk and do some ‘market research’. I like to think that I did some good research as I just got back home this past Monday after a two week vacation to Hawaii. We’ve been to the “Gold Coast” area on the Big Island several times already, but this was one of the best yet, with my wife, our 2 year old daughter, my wife’s mother and my parents.

We stayed at a comfortable home just steps from a gorgeous beach (see the sunset photo that I took just steps from the house). We spent almost every morning at a beach, sometimes just walking out the door and sometimes driving a bit. I think the consensus was that the ‘best beach’ on this trip was Kua Bay, but we also visited Kauna’oa Beach (Mauna Kea) multiple times in addition to Hapuna Beach and of course Waialea Bay – where we were staying.

In between beaching it, we got out for some shopping and dining and that’s where I found myself doing my ‘research’. I must say, that I felt the most Aloha that I ever have on this trip, wherever we went, people were incredibly friendly, helpful and accommodating. However, it was a bit disconcerting to see the number of empty store fronts in the resort areas along with the decrease in inventory in many stores.

Here’s a quick list of my recommendation on where to go and what to do from this trip:

  • Lodging – 2 Papayas – Mary, the owner/manager was great and the properties they represent are in my absolute favorite part of the Big Island.
  • Dining – Blue Dragon Coastal Cuisine & Musiquariam –  The interesting name says it all, but this is  great ‘supper club without a roof’. Great local foods with local music…I knew we would be eating great when I saw a fellow carrying a huge, whole, fresh from the ocean across the street, fish into the kitchen.
  • Music – John Keawe – He played the night we went to the Blue Dragon, and we were lucky enough to have his wife, Hope,  perform her Hula with him. He’s a great Hawaiian slack-key guitar guru.
  • Dining – Sushi Rock (Google maps link as I can’t see that they have a website) – Hidden way up on the Northern end of the Big Island in Hawi this little coffee house feeling sushi joint is awesome. With local ingredients (sense a theme here) and unique integration of those ingredients into their rolls, this place may not thrill traditional sushi aficionados, but it sure converted me, I’ll be back.
  • Shopping – Hilo Farmers Market – Not what most people probably call the best shopping on the Big Island, but I certainly get a kick out of all the funky foods along with the spread of local artisans displaying their wares. Also, since we went on the day after we arrived, we had fantastic local produce for our whole vacation – yummm…
  • Dining – Bamboo – Located just a block or two down the road from Sushi Rock, this restaurant seems a bit odd at first, but I found myself quickly sinking into the atmosphere of Hawaii-ana that it conveys so well and enjoying the evening (lunch here is great too). Fun gifts at the shop here too.
  • Beaches – Kua Bay, Hapuna and Kauna’oa (Mauna Kea) Beaches – Each of these is wonderful in their own right, Kua Bay has perhaps the most gorgeous azure blue color to the water, while Hapuna and Kauna’oa are both fantastic in terms of being huge sandy stretches of beautiful beach with great spring swimming and snorkeling. Caveat – while I haven’t been to any of these beaches aside from May/June, I’ve been told that they can all be tricky at times, in terms of surf, particularly during the winter.
  • Research – the Tripadvisor Hawaii Forum is a fine way to dial yourself in for a trip to the Big Island. Use the search function as a ton of topics are usually in discussion, but always feel free to post asking for recommendations. Be aware that while some of the local experts can seem a bit short at times, they are very helpful.
  • Research – Twitter – Another great research resource, I got a number of timely recommendations from @nathankam.

Well, it’s back to “reality” tomorrow – first day back in the office after three weeks off – cheers!

Share it

A little while ago, I participated in two panels at the Utah Tourism Conference and I’m confident that we were able to share some quality and actionable ideas for how to implement social media for tourism related businesses. Both of my fellow panelists, Thomas Cooke (@Motorad666) and Jay Evenson (@Jayevenson) were brought some fantastic insight to the discussion and I was hoping to share the video here, but I’m linking to the Ustream recordings instead, yes I wrote recordings, because the wireless kept cutting out so I wound up with a bunch of clips, some long and a few short ones – sorry!

In any case I also wanted to post some links that were brought up during the discussions:

Photo credit: dianew

Social Media Panel at the 2009 Utah Tourism Conference

2009UTCpostcarddraftsecondimageI’m excited to say that I have the distinct pleasure of sitting on a what I’m confident will be a great panel at the 2009 Utah Tourism Conference this Thursday afternoon from 2:00pm-3:30pm and again from 4:00pm-5:30pm. The title of the panel is “Using Social Media Technologies to Promote Tourism: It’s Time to Join the Conversation” and I’m looking forward to discussing this topic with Thomas Cooke from the Salt Lake City agency Welikesmall and Jay Evensen from the Deseret News.

Thomas is incredibly knowledgeable about marketing in the Utah tourism industry and also brings great insight into the social media world, I know this from sitting through several marketing meetings with him and most recently we were both at the San Francisco Inbound Marketing Summit. I admit that I’m not acquainted with Jay, but I have seen that he’s been blogging for the Desert News for a year or so with some very good engagement (commenting).

The topic is wide enough that I think that we are going to try to do some basic introduction to the social media space, what it is, why tourism businesses should be paying attention to what’s going on there and how they should then engage in this space. I imagine that we’ll be able to get into more specifics as well, so please bring your questions, concerns and ideas.

If you aren’t able to make it to the conference, we’ll be streaming the panels via our ustream channel at www.ustream.tv/channel/utc-09. Just a quick disclimer, it may wind up being via the camera on my MacBook Pro unless I find an external video camera that I can grab a live feed from, neither of my video cameras seems to work. Hope to see you at the conference or on the web on Thursday!

PS – I have a draft of an inbound marketing for ski resorts post that’s been sitting around on my WordPress Dashboard for a few days, I’m thinking that i may split it into a multi-part post, stay tuned…

Photo credit: Utah Tourism Conference