As a ski area, there are many factors outside your control, like the weather, but one thing you can control is hospitality which extends to and includes your use of social media. Last year I touched on some challenges facing midwest ski areas and briefly mentioned the lack of social media in “Why Isn’t Your Ski Resort Thriving?“, but it’s a topic I’ve been meaning to come back to.
These examples are all local ski areas, and all facebook, but the lessons should apply to other businesses and other social media platforms, too.
What message are you sending to your fans?
People are trying to determine whether to spend their money on your snow, or to go to the movies or the bar or the bowling alley instead and they’re using social media to do this. Are you part of that conversation?
- Pine Knob has 3,500+ fans on Facebook. There have been 15-20 inquiries about their opening date since Thanksgiving (2 weeks ago) and nobody from the resort responded to any of them. In fact, nobody from the resort has updated their page since opening day 2010.
- Mt. Holly has 1,380+ fans on Facebook. The most recent 8 comments have been about opening date/time/etc., yet the resort managemeht hasn’t responded to any of them. In fact, nobody from the resort has updated their page in nearly two full years (January, 2010).
Social Media is NOT something you use once a year. If you’re creating a forum for discussion (merely opening a social media account gives this impression) and then refusing to take part in the conversation, you might as well tell them “We don’t need or want your money and we don’t care if you come here”.
Is that really the message you want to convey to your customers?
Social Media might be “free” but it can still cost you in the long run
You wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars making a radio spot or a print advert that was deliberately ignorant of your customers, or wasn’t true, etc., but because social media doesn’t have the huge fixed costs associated traditional media, people take shortcuts and get sloppy.
But that doesn’t mean that these mistakes don’t cost you in the long run in lost revenue when people don’t show up to buy what you’re selling.
- Mt. Brighton has 1,600+ fans on Facebook. You might remember Brighton from last week. They were doing a good job at least interacting with their fans, promoting themselves, and fueling some serious stoke but after that “opening day” debacle they haven’t said one word. It’s funny — they couldn’t keep their mouth shut when they probably should have, and now that they should be sharing some real, positive information, they’re not saying a word.
Social Media isn’t rocket science
There are tons of ways you could be using social media but at the very least you should be treating it as an additional customer service contact point. Fortunately, some ski areas use it more effectively than others.
- Crystal Mountain has 8,000+ fans. They routinely post pictures and resort status updates, progress on resort development, etc., which is all stuff that gets people excited to come back and gets people talking about your business.
- Alpine Valley has about 1,500 fans on Facebook. Sure they are not perfect but they are light years ahead of most of their competition.The Facebook page gives periodical status updates, like when they are blowing, why they aren’t blowing (i.e., it’s raining and it’s a waste of money), even an announcement of when they are opening.
- Even tiny Apple Mountain in Freeland (1,000+ fans) is thoroughly engaged with their fans and demonstrates that you don’t have to be a big, 4-seasons resort & spa to more effectively use social media.
It starts with the basics: When your fans ask you a question on Facebook or twitter (you’re on twitter, right?) they expect an answer! When you give out information, your customers expect it to be accurate. It’s so simple a snowboarder understands it.
Social Media is a Two-Way Street
Social Media is more than just push-marketing as we see with Mt. Brighton. It’s also a way of receiving feedback from your customers. Even if you’re not listening, they’re telling you exactly what they want, what are their expectations, concerns, etc. All of this information is key to your success.
So, if you’ve got a social media account for your business, and you’re not listening, why aren’t you?