As winter resorts and destinations look for guidance on what the 2020/21 ski season will bring, there are only three things that count: Mother Nature (whether it’s COVID or the weather); the government; and customers.
To get some perspective on what customers are thinking and talking about, Ski Area Management (SAM) magazine partnered with leading conversational analytics firm Metric Centric and consumer luxury-experience strategy group Collective Work to delve into what skiers and winter outdoor recreation fans are thinking and saying about the ski season.
To do this, Metric Centric “listened” to skier conversations online across all social media platforms, as well as in forums and other digital media, taking a series of Consumer Voice (CV) Snapshots. The purpose of listening – as opposed to polling – was to get a more organic sense of what is on customers’ minds as they use social media. While the process “listens” for key words and phrases and the context in which they are said, it is a more organic way of understanding sentiment, rather than through prompted questions.
The first snapshot report tracked 2020 through mid-November. The second, slated for Spring 2021, will look BACK at the current ski season.
The initial snapshot report revealed some interesting takeaways about the consumer’s sentiment and perception towards the ski season in 2020:
- People are realistic about the changed experience due to the pandemic. They believe it will be different from the past, but are uncertain as to the specifics. One of the trends is that customers have greatly increased their need for control across multiple dimensions – meaning being armed with information. Ski resorts should not hesitate to do whatever they can to help the consumer feel more certain during uncertain times.
- It pays to know your customer. The initial report found a significant difference between the concerns of the general public and those of ski fanatics. While the public is concerned about whether the facilities are open and available food options, fanatics are understandably more concerned about season passes, capacity levels and the lodging/indoor experience.
- Skier sentiment varies by geography and at the metro/regional level. Although the initial study focused on “key [destination] states” such as CA, CO, NY, UT, PA, VT, WI – the surprise was that most of the social discussions were taking place outside of those areas. The study concluded that localizing certain communications efforts may greatly influence certain ski resorts that have overlooked nearby audiences who are within a drive-to radius.
- For skier fanatics, forums matter. The sheer volume of conversation about ski and snowboarding takes place in online forums. By listening on these channels and engaging with transparency and authenticity, ski resort operators can connect directly to their consumers to better understand their needs and expectations. There is a great opportunity to generate enthusiasm for the current ski season through smart communication, particularly to those who are winter activity fanatics.
This Spring, Metric Centric and Collective Work will conduct another analysis of conversational data collected online from skier and snowboarder dialog during the period of November 2020 through March 2021. This will allow SAM to fully comprehend the overall sentiment and perception towards the 2020/21 ski season in its entirety.
About Ski Area Management. Ski Area Management (SAM) magazine is the professional trade publication for the mountain resort market. It is published bi-monthly with an all-paid circulation. It is wholly independent, working closely with all trade associations, but the official organ of none. SAM readers are key decision-makers and influencers in this market. The influencers who read the magazine also consume content through SAM’s online channels and attend their various industry events to gain knowledge that will help them, and their operations, be more successful.
About Metric Centric. Metric Centric leverages the best tools and latest technologies to aggregate conversational data. Their proprietary approach distills the findings into a set of custom snapshots and scorecards that provide at-a-glance actionable business intelligence. Metric Centric insights enable organizations to anticipate marketplace opportunities, proactively manage risks, benchmark directly against the competition, and to quantitatively measure consumer sentiment and perception. To learn more about how Metric Centric helps Fortune 500 businesses, financial investment firms and global reaching associations and organizations, visit www.metric-centric.com.
About Collective Work. Collective Work is a multi-disciplinary insight-driven strategy and experience firm focused on the luxury and emerging luxury consumer. Their conviction is that innovation and reinvention flow from one thing: the customer. They work to uncover what luxury customers value and crave, and then design offerings and experiences that will satisfy that craving. Collective Work help clients in hospitality, real estate, and lifestyle identify new opportunities, reposition, develop new, highly relevant brands and services and drive distinctiveness and loyalty.