At the recent Mountain Travel Symposium in Banff, Canada, executives from various tourism companies commented on how social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have completely changed how ski resorts and other mountain travel companies promote themselves.
Julie Canning, president and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism commented: “Technology has taken us on a journey that has absolutely changed the way we communicate.” She went on to explain that the traditional concept of sales has been turned on its head by social networking websites. “Campaigns are no longer about the message,” she explained. “They’re about the conversation.”
David Barry, CEO of Alpine Helicopters/Canadian Mountain Holidays, explained that because of the conversational nature of marketing, it must be authentic and genuine. Consumers will see through phony “selling”. “Authenticity is the voice that an organization or brand has,” Barry explained. “And the use of that voice is really precious.” Barry believes the shift in communication has made stories more important than traditional marketing campaigns. “Stories motivate, explain, inspire and provide context,” he said. “The backstage pass concept is something people look for.”
Thomas Storey, president of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, summed up by describing today’s marketing plan as focusing “less on making a lifestyle statement and more about making a statement about someone’s life.”
Barry and Storey continue: “The product is the experience and the memories it creates,” Barry explained. Storey agreed. “Brands that represent value, pleasing design, functionality and social awareness are becoming the new ‘must-have’ products,” he said. “People are buying these products not because they are the cheapest or because they make them look good, but because they make them feel good.”
In a time of economic uncertainty, these three executives gave the audience at the Mountain Travel Symposium some optimistic and progressive thoughts for how to move forward in gaining success in the mountain travel business.