Tweet retreat: Friends know the conditions now with social media

The social media movement has changed how you eat, who you date and even who you marry.

Now, it’s changing where and how you ski.

If you remember double chair lifts, you might remember getting up at oh-dark-thirty to catch the early ski reports from your favorite resort.

Some abysmally perky marketing assistant would spout the latest snow numbers while you stood in your bunny slippers, sipping your coffee and wondering what you really would find waiting on the slopes.

No more.

Today’s latest ski reports, supported with eyewitness proof via webcams and instant videos, are ready any time of the day and night.

The immense and worldwide reach of such social media sites as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, instant text and others have brought a new level of transparency, and more means of communication, to the complex relationship between snowriders and snow resorts.

“It’s certainly brought new transparency, which I consider a great thing,” said Jennifer Rudolph of Colorado Ski County USA, the trade association representing 24 of the state’s ski resorts. “It keeps us on our toes and I think it gives our viewers a sense of reality for what they’ll find at their favorite resorts.”

Loryn Kasten at Steamboat (http://www.steamboat.com) said social media are “a great conversation tool between ski resorts and their guests.”

Kasten said that applies both to compliments and complaints, and gives the guests a sense their voice is being heard.

“A lot of social media is having the ability to speak directly with your guests and have a two-way conversation, versus other communication methods like email and direct mail, which is just a one-way conversation,” Kasten said.

Telluride spokesman Tom Watkinson said social media gives snowriders a direct and personal link to the resort.

“It also broadens our way of sending out messages, helping people to get to know the place and gives them a chance to give feedback,” Watkinson said.

Telluride CEO Dave Riley has a popular blog on the Telluride website (http://www.TellurideSki Resort.com), and somehow Riley finds time to answer personally the many messages he receives.

“He’s pretty amazing, I can’t even get through all my emails,” admitted Watkinson. “But he’s done it since he got here (five years ago) and I think our guests really enjoy that personal feeling of communication.”

Steamboat’s Kasten said “our guests are excited when we continue the conversation with them and when we provide information that is helpful and/or exciting.

“Some of our most popular posts are pictures and stats about snow days.”

Everyone knows ski conditions change rapidly, and perhaps the biggest rap against snow reports in the pre-Twitter days was the lack of immediacy.

New snow gets skied off, sunny days go from hard-pack to corn, and late-night snowstorms may drop the 6 inches that doesn’t make the TV or newspaper deadline.

But now, if a snow flake falls, every skier in 50 states can see it hit the ground.

“We can communicate our snow totals and can show pictures instantly so (guests) can see what is going on immediately,” said Tricia Tittle at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.

“We also do a text messaging program where I send a text when there is a powder alert or any other important news,” she said. “We have about 650 signed up for that.”

To get the Powderhorn Powder Day alert, text “Powderhorn” to 69302.

Ski Country’s Rudolph said that website (http://www.coloradoski.com) has about 10,000 Twitter followers and nearly 6,400 Facebook viewers.

Telluride’s Watkinson said the resort has close to 17,000 Facebook followers and about 5,000 on Twitter.

“We try to do both about three times a day,” he said. “You have to be credible, because people can see what is happening right as it happens.”



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