Turns out that most of what we’re doing here is meeting with PR, marketing, and other executives from Colorado Ski Country. DL Byron has the details. It’s pretty smart. They get a few bloggers to come up and give them consulting, maybe get a link or two, in return for some free snowmobiling and skiing. Considering that some of my friends are getting paid $4,000 a day for doing consulting like this it’s a fair trade. But, how many people talk about how they are being compensated on their blogs? I’m taking vacation days from Microsoft to be here, by the way.
Yesterday we spent quite a bit of time with Kate Osborne of Keystone (here’s a photo I shot of her). She runs PR. Deals with press from all over the world. Says she’s treating the bloggers the same way she’d treat the New York Times. With one exception: the New York Times pays for everything she sets up. She says that most of the professional press insists on paying their own way. To me, this is a HUGE difference between the bloggers and the professionals. She says, though, that many pros get around the rules of the newspaper brands by going independent. If you’re an independent journalist turns out the rules are more relaxed.
Anyway, the resort here is massive. I also find myself wishing Kate had a blog. She knows EVERYTHING about the market. She is an instant authority. How do I know that? She can tell you what each of her competitors do right too. What are Keystone’s advantages? She shows why they get more families here: more diversity of things to do. They are working on making their snowboarding features better. That’s where the growth in the winter sports industry is right now.
Some other things I’ve learned? Colorado is in the midst of the best winter in decades. Almost 300 inches have fallen.
Best promotion that Keystone has done? It opened its season with its second annual “36 hours at Keystone” event. Last year 20,000 people came. This year? 40,000. Why? Cause you can ski for 36 hours for $36 and you get lodging for $36 too.
It’s interesting, though, just how business-savvy the folks are here. Make no mistake: this is a huge business employing tons of people. And, like at most businesses I’ve talked with lately there’s a lot of fear of change. They are very worried about how their brand is being perceived on the outside world. No different than the 180+ businesses we talked with about blogging for our book.
We’ll see if we can get the execs here over their fears and show them some of the relationship building advantages (and morale building advantages!) of letting their employees have conversations with their customers on the Internet.
Along these lines: congrats to Steve Rubel for joining PR maven Richard Edelman (they are working to get more companies blogging too).
Update: here’s Maryam and me snowmobiling yesterday.