Imagine a day on the slopes followed by an après-ski drink at a picturesque lodge, all accompanied by your close friends. You can thank the community-driven marketing efforts from leading ski resorts for the mental image you’re painting right now. Leading ski resorts have mastered the art of community-driven marketing thanks to their brilliant understanding of their audience. Through community-driven marketing, ski resorts have amplified the social aspect of skiing to keep visitors returning every winter. But even more so, they’re telling a powerful story through the eyes of their most passionate fans, creating some serious #FOMO for those who stayed home.
Squaw Valley turns Powder into Passion
With hundreds of acres of skiable terrain, Squaw Valley Resort is in a unique position: hundreds of acres of content all waiting to be shared and experienced by loyal fans. At Squaw Valley, every time a skier submits photos under the #JanuBURIED or #FebruBURIED tags, they’re submitting a completely original perspective of their experience. Whether they’re on the lift, shooting photos of another skier, or enjoying an après- ski refreshment, fans are collecting picturesque content. This content, once shared, can be used in innovative ways to scalably drive more visitors to the resort. In 2018, the #JanuBURIED photo contest on social media won a Poppy award for Best Social Media Campaign of 2018. It’s not just the loyal fans that love their marketing strategy.
Big Sky and Big Community Wins
Big Sky Resort in Montana boasts the largest outdoor LED ski lift display in the world. That prime real estate features the best content the brand has access to: the stories their customers are sharing on social media. After selecting posts that meet their brand criteria, they’re able to feature a dynamic and engaging collection of inspiring images featuring real fans from that day. This live content display creates brand affinity for Big Sky and encourages their fans to share their stories, amplifying the word-of-mouth power of social sharing. Retailers looking to add value to their in-store experiences stand to benefit from adopting similar interactive displays.
Breckenridge Shows that Content Matters to Travelers
With thousands of geotagged photos submitted every month, Breckenridge recently found an avenue to monetize these photos, putting them to work as advertisements. The ads pulled new customer photos in real time and gave viewers an authentic and timely view of the mountain and resort. It was a powerful way to highlight real-life customers and increase ad engagement to a new audience. These paid ads were displayed across a variety of travel sites such as Travelocity and Trip Advisor. With the #BreckBecause campaign, their marketing team saw nearly 18,000 photos submitted in a recent campaign, with a 35% higher click through rate on ads using user-generated content.
Community-driven to Succeed and Stay Agile
Diverse and authentic user-generated content (UGC) tells the best story the brand can to their audience, but it also enables them to adapt their brand message as conditions change. Ski resorts collecting UGC can respond to reports of more snow or less snow by pivoting their UGC to feature recent posts, while happy tourists and skiers share their experiences on the slopes. With over 400 inches of snow in Tahoe and other western skiing states like Colorado & Wyoming being hammered with fresh powder, social media has been abuzz with videos of flurries of snow on the mountains, and neon skis cutting new tracks into the snow. Resorts that aren’t currently collecting this content are missing an opportunity to collect the best content that the region has seen in years.
The biggest takeaway brands (particularly travel and hospitality) should glean from these successes is that marketing with your community’s authentic voice pays off. By harnessing the power of your passionate customer’s stories, you’ll drive more loyal brand advocates, create return visitors, and help your community create unforgettable memories with their friends and family.