Almost a foot of new snow fell in the Sierras over the past 24 hours and I will be heading up shortly to enjoy. However, before I put the get all my gear together and put the boards in the the car I wanted to share some information about how Vail Resorts has adapted to the changing climate to help get the message out to snow enthusiasts everywhere.
I am assuming that everyone reading this has at least heard of their flagship resort Vail. What many may not be aware of is that Vail Resorts Management Company is the owner of this as well as four other resorts (Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone, and Heavenly in Lake Tahoe) as well as twenty hotels and six golf courses making it a major player in the recreation and travel industry. Cited in an Advertising Age About Digital report the CEO of Vail Resorts Rob Katz discussed recent changes to their marketing strategy.
According to Mr. Katz, there were recently two major “explosions” that led to major rethinking in their strategy. The economy, which has led visitors who traditionally have booked four to six months in advance to last year having the majority of bookings within two weeks, and Media which has been rapidly changing. Essentially he stated that everything that they thought about marketing a couple of years ago has completely changed.
With traditional media outlets of which the majority was print magazines such as Outside Magazine, Mens Health, Ski, Skiing, Conde Naste Traveler and the like they would be required to commit four to six months in advance to the campaign and message that they wanted for the season. Traditionally by this time almost 80% of their marketing budget would already be committed. This year the print budget has been greatly reduced and they are currently retaining almost 80% of their budget in reserve to allow for continuous changes to the messaging. While newspaper, online display advertising, and search engine marketing continue to play an important role, social media has taken a leading role. In the past the industry made a decision prior to the season and lived with it, now at least in Vail’s case, the decisions and messages are on a weekly calendar.
One of the items cited in the video was the importance of video in selling their product. Myself a connoisseur of “ski porn” a term he used for the conveyence of emotion in ski videos that are watched by avid skiers understand this. Not only is their the video displaying the acrobatics of professional skiers on bottomless powder days, but there is also quick access to live cams and weather reports. By embracing social media and the latest technologies Vail Resorts can change their message quickly to reflect the changing conditions and changing industry environment. While currently the economic environment is one of caution and bargain hunting, as their changes they can adapt their message.
To see examples of how Vail Resorts is embracing social media all you need is a quick search in outlets such as Facebook, Twitter or others. In one quick search in Facebook there were pages of groups associated with the company as well as fans of their properties that can serve as models for those thinking about as well as working with social media.