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?!
I first saw the news on Twitter this past Sunday that Tamarack Resort was finally hitting the end of their financing and having to shut down all operations as of the closing of their lifts today. Now that today has come, I find it very strange to browse through Tamarack’s website and while I see that they have done a good job of noting their closing throughout the site, they still have left all of their site’s content up aside from a couple of PDF links on their home page. I almost of feel like I’m going to an open casket viewing at a funeral…it’s a bit surreal.
Up until now, it has been interesting watching the impact of the current economic issues on the ski resort industry, surprisingly there are resorts that are having a banner year. However, it appears that most of the industry is off by a good chunk and is cutting where possible so that they can withstand what looks to be at least another year of lowered revenues. Personally, I’m fortunate to be working for a company that has it’s finances in control and isn’t burdened with mountains of debt like Tamarack was. Even so, it still hasn’t been smooth sailing as there were a number of people, including a co-worker in my department, let go just over a month ago.
In spite of this, I still think that the winter resort business is in good shape even as our economy bumps along. I know many people that have managed to carve out time and money to take their winter ski or snowboard trip even though it looked like it wouldn’t happen this year. The airfares that were through the roof to start the season have started to come back down. And, truth be told, there’s still nothing like hitting the slopes, whetherit’s an epic powder day or just a quick cruise around the mountain.
In the meantime, RIP Tamarck.
UPDATE: I’ve moved my blog and am no longer updating the list on this page. The current Ski Resorts on Twitter List can now be found on www.ericinparkcity.com I hope to see you there!
Here it is, a list of ski resorts that are ‘hanging out’ on Twitter! I’ll try to update it as more resorts create accounts and, if I’m missing any, please leave me a comment and I’ll add them. I also have a few destination marketing organizations included here, but I’m primarily interested in ski resorts for this list.
Ski Resorts on Twitter
@AZSnowbowl Arizona Snowbowl
@skialpine Alpine Meadows
@skihomewood Homewood Mountain Resort
@MammothMountain Mammoth Mountain
@skisugarbowl Sugar Bowl
@Sierra_at_Tahoe Sierra at Tahoe
@skilaketahoe Lake Tahoe Ski Resort CMO (Thanks @Jenn)
@tskifeed Lake Tahoe Ski Feed (thanks @Smash)
@bearmountain Bear Mountain
@arapahoe_basin Arapahoe Basin (updated 6/23/09, thanks @martin001)
@WinterPark Winter Park
@steamboatinfo Steamboat (snow report feed)
@aspensnowmass Aspen Snowmass (thanks @martin001)
@SilvertonMtn Silverton Mountain (1 update)
@ColoradoSkiUSA Colorado Ski Country
@beavercreekmtn Beaver Creek
@monarchmountain Monarch Mountain
@visitsunvalley Sun Valley CVB
@SkiIdaho Ski Idaho
@BOGUSBASIN Bogus Basin
@jhupdates Jackson Hole
@SilverMtnResort Silver Mountain Resort (thanks @martin001)
@SchweitzerID Schweitzer (thanks @martin001)
@skilookout Lookout Pass (thanks @mrtin001)
@sundayriver Sunday River
@sugarloafmaine Sugarloaf Mountain (thanks @Matt G)
@crystalmountain Crystal Mountain
@Welch_Village Welch Village
@bridgerbowl Bridger Bowl
@moonlightbasin Moonlight Basin (thanks @KcMX)
@loonmtn Loon Mountain
@skiwildcat Wildcat Mountain
@crotched Crotched Mountain
@bretton_woods Mount Washington Resort
@waterville Waterville Valley
@renotahoe Reno CVB (thanks Mike)
@diamondpeak Diamond Peak
@windhammountain (thanks @Kirt)
@mtbachelor Mt Bachelor
@timberlinelodge Timberline (thanks @chaserules)
@skior Ski Oregon
@pcski Park City Mountain Resort
@thecanyons The Canyons
@brightonresort @brightonparks Brighton (thanks @grant for @brightonparks)
@KillingtonMtn Killington Resort
@mtspokane Mt Spokane
@grousemountain Grouse Mountain
@redresort Red Mountain (thanks @martin001)
@WhistlerBlckcmb Whistler Blackcomb
@skifernie Fernie Alpine Resort
@Reality_in_Banf Banff/Lake Louise Tourism (thanks @Jenn)
The ski resort business is seasonal. Sure, most resorts offer some summer activities, but the vast majority of our visitors come during the winter months of December through April. So it’s now been about seven months since a paying skier or snowboarder has gotten on a lift, and since then there have been quite a few changes in the world:
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped nearly 5,000 points, from nearly 13,000 to just above 8,000 – less money in consumer’s stock and retirement accounts.
- The median price of a home in the U.S. has dropped by about 9% – people feel less wealthy with declining home values.
- Average scheduled daily flight departures from the Salt Lake City Airport has dropped 32,852 from December 07 to December 08 – fewer opportunities for consumers to get to Park City.
- Cruise lines have added seven new large ships this year with around three quarter of a million passenger nights to fill between them all – another winter vacation option for consumers.
- Oil has risen to nearly $150 per barrel and then plummeted to about $50 per barrel – if driving is cheap again, will consumer fly?
These ingredients along with the general malaise in the country will almost assuredly cut down on the number of visitors that we see this winter. The Christmas/New Years Holiday, which is a real barometer for ski resorts, is just over a month away, and already some local lodging properties are starting to offer deals for this peak demand time. Yikes – only another month and we will know how what’s been going on for the past seven months will truly affect the ski resort business.
Photo credit: Me
I thought this would be a topical subject as the corporate ownership of the resort I work for has just been given an award by the EPA for being a “Green Power Leader.” Now, I do think that our ownership/leadership fully understand that to have any chance of lasting as a viable business, winter resorts such as theirs, need to do whatever they can to reduce their carbon footprint as well as to educate their customers on what they can do to help counteract climate change.
I find the balance between what a ski resort can realistically change in their operations and what probably needs to change in our society quite interesting because without change in the current global trends in carbon emissions, the prospects for snowy winters 100 years down the road is quite dismal.
So, realistically how much can a ski company do? Well, committing up to 1% of revenue to promote energy efficiencies and alternatives is a good start. However, this probably is more than balanced out by all the energy needed to run the lifts, snowguns, lodges and snowcats that the resort needs to run. I think can be best summed up in what our Director of Environmental Affairs likes to say, “doing something is always better than doing nothing.” And with my personal saying (for the season) being, “you do what you can,” I think that while a ski resort could always be more environmentally friendly, ones that are trying to do what they can to to reduce their energy needs as well as educate their guests are doing more than just a simple greenwash.
Perhaps I’m just kidding myself, as this is the industry I work in and a sport I truly have a passion for, but I do feel much better working for the company I am with the environmental direction that they have taken.
A few mountain resort environmental links: