Resorts Find Maximum Utility in Social Media

As I’ve mentioned and explored in my previous entries, the snowboard and Xsport industries are experimenting and utilizing social media – there’s room for improvement, but social media strategy is something relatively new in the business world.  Resorts on the other hand, seem to have a pretty strong grasp on social media technology and optimal utilization.  I’ve checked out a handful of resorts from across the country and will give an overview and analysis of their social media presence in this post.

First off, resorts have been using the internet for quite a few years now as a significant source of sales, especially since visitors travel from all over to stay and play.  This venture into the world of internet sales and marketing may not have been by choice for all of the resorts, but it is vital for staying in competition with the others.  All of this practice in the pre-web2.0 era has turned resorts into effective online communicators.

Resorts which may get their heaviest traffic during the winter also use social media to promote summer events and activities.  Many resorts have a wide variety of warm weather activities that people aren’t aware of.  These activities include: water parks, zip-lines, mountain biking, hiking, golf, spas, etc.  If promoted correctly, these activities can bring in a great source of revenue during the warmer months.  Facebook and Twitter provide a perfect outlet for promotion of summer activities.  People who “like” your page or follow your Twitter feed for winter activities can learn about what your resort has to offer during the summer without having to physically visit your homepage and search for it.

The first resort whose social media strategy I examined was that of my local mountain, Massanutten.  Being only 20 minutes away from where I go to school, it is extremely convenient to visit 4, 5, or even 6 times a week, even when class is in session.  Massanutten’s homepage has button links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts in a very visible location in the top right corner, above the search bar.  They frequently send out tweets and status updates and also respond quickly to questions and comments.  Massanutten has nearly 8,000 Facebook fans while just under 550 Twitter followers.  Many of the participants in activities at the resorts are in the young adult (18-24) demographic, which has been a slow growing population on Twitter, but it’s hard to attribute the smaller following on Twitter strictly to this.  Facebook is a much more dynamic and media rich environment, which is ideal for publicizing a resort like Massanutten.  Consumer generated media (CGM), such as video and photos, are a unique feature of the Facebook page, and the resort actually encourages visitors to upload their media.  Massanutten also offers the ability to have their Tweets sent to a user’s RSS feed, further increasing the reach of their social media campaign.

Massanutten Trail Map

Venturing west, I chose to look at a very popular destination for boarders and skiers, Breckenridge Resort, in Colorado.  It’s a much larger and more well known resort than Massanutten, and is in prime-time real estate for a ski resort.  Colorado’s “14’ers” (mountains with peaks higher than 14,000 feet) are ideal for snow sports as they get tons of fresh powder each year.  Breckenridge, as to be expected, has a more substantial social media presence than Massanutten when it comes to shear numbers.  That’s not to say they do it better, they are just a larger and more well-known resort.  Facebook fans are nearly 18,000 in number while Twitter follows are nearing 5,000.  That’s a much closer ratio (roughly 3.6:1 Facebook:Twitter) in comparison to Massanutten who has a Facebook following approximately 15 times the size of their Twitter followers.  Breckenridge uses Facebook to facilitate its Twitter account.  There is a tab on the Facebook page where you can see their Twitter feed.  On this tab you can also suggest your Facebook friends become fans of Breckenridge on Facebook & Twitter.  Pretty neat strategy that enables your existing fans to promote the resort for you.  Breckenridge posts regularly about their events, but Massanutten takes the cake when it comes to responding to comments and questions.  This is one area where Breckenridge could improve their social media strategy and improve relations with the online community.

Breckenridge's significantly larger trail map, in comparison to Massanutten

A third resort I chose to examine was Mammoth Mountain Resort in California.  They have a huge Facebook following with over 35,500 fans, and nearly 300 user-uploaded photos.  Mammoth frequently updates the page with event and activity notices, and images from such events.  They also do a better job of interacting with user comments and questions in comparison to Breckenridge.  Mammoth’s Twitter page has over 4,500 followers, so again we’re seeing a significantly larger community on Facebook for a resort.  Again, reasons for this include the demographics of the primary audience as well as Facebook’s multimedia capabilities.  Mammoth primarily uploads video to their YouTube channel and have nearly 150,000 views on video they have uploaded.  Mammoth links all of their social media sites with buttons on their homepage, as well as the Facebook page.  This massive resort also maintains a frequently updated blog with photos and event info, although it is not nearly as popular as the Facebook page.

Mammoth Mountain Trail Map

Plenty of other resorts including SnowShoe, Seven Springs and Park City, amongst many others, are utilizing social media effectively.  The resort industry is perfect for social media tools as they are able to cut down on advertising costs and reach out to specific communities in a more personal manner.  Event and activity promotion is also a great use of social media, and it’s something the resort industry has embraced.  Overall the resort business has been able to incorporate a social media strategy into their marketing and advertising better than the other sectors in the snow/Xsports world.

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~ by Eric Gustafson on July 17, 2010.

2 Responses to “Resorts Find Maximum Utility in Social Media”

  1. It doesn’t surprise me that the resorts are the most social media friendly. It doesn’t offer much risk and I can see how it would cut down on marketing and advertising costs. Additionally, its great to see that Massanutten is being so responsive on their Facebook page. Because they are a smaller resort it is important that they build the loyalty of the their fans and simply responding to them and engaging in a dialogue will definitely do that. Although the resort business seems to be doing the most with social media, isn’t their a way for them to do even more?

  2. I really like how Massanutten encourages people to post consumer generated media because this seems like a very effective way of engaging their audience. It’s also cool because it is such a small, local mountain and they are utilizing social media better than bigger, more popular mountains out west. Social media seems like a very ideal means for keeping the audience for resorts engaged even when they are not in season. By consistently posting relevant content throughout the summer, riders can keep these resorts in the back of their head as they see find this content in their feed.

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