This year's National Ski Area Association annual convention was held in Nashville. That town rocks and so did this year's convention. Many thanks to the NSAA crew and all the presenters, supporters, and volunteers. 


Here are a few of my take-aways which will be framing our thinking going into next season.


Data & Website Personalization

CRM - Email - Website Graphic

We are already identifying where the visitor is and serving up more relevant content based on location. No need to push Ski & Stay to a guest already at the resort. But how can we step in deeper and tap the data resorts hold and connect that with the website to offer more personalized experiences? We can do this by two primary methods today. One is to get the visitor to log-in, make the handshake, and then set the cookie that establishes that visitor's profile that we then message to. The other is via the email connection through Ryan Solutions or another email/CRM data partner. In this second scenario, the email going out knows who the visitor is. Any links from that email back to the website, can pass that identifying info back to the website. The the website can take that identifier, match it with the CRM and then offer personalized promotions, imager, navigation... 

Also cool, we can close the circle and feed the guest's website traffic patterns back to the CRM. Consider the guest who previously booked room and tickets but not ski school. They visit your ski school section, and drill down to private lessons. That's a lead. We can then push that analytics data back to the Ryan Solutions/CRM to trigger an email with a special lesson promotion.


Website ADA

Blindfolded user testing a site for accessibility

More websites are getting hit and no end in sight. Given the ease by which current and future copy-catters can use automated ADA testing tools to identify targets and generate these demand letters, there's nothing keeping them from printing money like this. I agree, that this is only the start, and so far the courts are only fueling it. I do disagree with the notion that these cases are easily defendable. Greg Hurley didn't say that directly, but implied it, and I think that's expensive and not the path. Do not not sit and wait to be served, and then defend. Be proactive and avoid being targeted as quickly as you possibly can. Before remediation and legal fees, the price tag in current demand letters start at $34K. I have more on this here. 


Building and Leveraging Advocates

Resorts have seriously loyal fans. They love you like their favorite sports team, and they align their personal brands with yours... and they like to brag about it. One of my favs was hearing from Erik Forsell from Mammoth share their #MammothBeanie campaign, which was as analog as it was digital. Here they started with a simple hat, and then promoted the campaign with 3 dimensional billboards and with a hashtag campaign that encouraged people to share... and naturally, they did. Simple and easy to adapt to your resort.


Micromoments of Content

person asking question into phone

People are inquisitive. And both Siri and Jeopardy show that we often prefer the form of a question. As mobile consumers go to the search engine, social, or website to research micro questions, having the right answer (with an awesome visual) puts you in the right place. FAQs and How-to's are great vehicles for delivering organic SEO that put your answer in the right place (mobile), at the right time.


Final Thought : We Need To Address The Perception Issue

Yet again, I come away with the one overwhelming concern. We're still not addressing the perception issue. We're studying it, but doing nothing. NSAA spent a lot of money to have RCC study millennials, and we learned that their perception of this sport/lifestyle is mostly negative. We're missing this massive generation. 

To change the perception that skiing and riding is too expensive, too cold, too hard, and too dangerous we need to address this at the national level. We need to consider spending less to lobby government and more to lobby hollywood. Its through the movies, shows, and videos we watch that influence perceptions and motivate us to take actions.

Resorts and regional associations cannot combat this individually. This requires national leadership, organization, and funding. We need to invest in marketing and pro-active PR to share what we all know to be true about this sport... that its much more than a sport. Its a lifestyle that bonds and invigorates people and families of all ages. We need to move away from "extreme" and get back to the romance and family values of this lifestyle.


See Dave's Photo Gallery of NSAA 2016 Nashville on Facebook