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Nine Marketing Questions from Ten Years at Diamond Peak

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

The recent news that Milena Regos, Marketing Director at Diamond Peak, was stepping down to move on to her next adventure was a bit surprising. While I haven’t had the chance to meet her in person, I’ve heard only good things about her decade-long tenure in Tahoe. Interested in the highlights and takeaways from Milena’s marketing reign, I shot her a handful of questions. Classy as always, she obliged. Here they are:

SlopeFillers: What is the biggest marketing lesson you learned about the ski industry?
Milena: Two things: customer service and bringing new people to the sport. You need to make sure your guests are happy, had a fantastic time and will return to your ski resort. I’m sure that applies to other industries as well. Without happy customers you don’t have a ski resort. Although the ski industry has been growing over the year, too many ski resorts concentrate on growing their market share by taking away skiers/riders from other mountains. At Diamond Peak, we concentrated on bringing new people to the sport and making sure they have a great first time experience. When your guests are happy, they will come back season after season.

SlopeFillers: What is the biggest marketing lesson you learned about social media in general?
Milena: Social media is where people are and how they want to communicate. The reason companies are trying to figure out how to use social media for business purposes is because they understand that traditional marketing has its limitations. Social media continues to grow and evolve and together with mobile is a critical component to a successful marketing strategy. You need to stay on top of all trends, make sure you have a well thought out strategy and use your resources wisely. I realized that to be good at social media I need to concentrate all my time and energy there and hence the move away from Diamond Peak and towards my own social media company with Out&About Marketing. Even for someone passionate about social media I needed more time in the day to do everything at Diamond Peak. Companies should consider hiring someone to be responsible for social and not just taking on more duties among the existing staff. It’s a new industry that changes too fast and needs daily attention to do it well.

SlopeFillers: What is the biggest marketing lesson you learned about Twitter?
Milena: Twitter is by far one of my favorite social networks. The biggest lesson I learned is that it’s all about relationships on Twitter. You are better off knowing 1,000 people than having 10,000 followers. Meet people, provide valuable content and don’t worry about the follower count too much. Companies miss the mark there by just blasting out messages they old way. Twitter only works if you actually listen to what people are saying, engage in conversations, and provide valuable information to your followers all in 140 characters.

SlopeFillers: What is the biggest marketing lesson you learned about Facebook?
Milena: People are on Facebook to have fun, connect with family and friends and live in a world that makes them feel like rock stars. Things that work on Facebook are fun, easy contests, exclusive deals and discounts and valuable information like how much snow you received or if the roads are open. The biggest accomplishment on Facebook for us was winning the Hermes Platinum award in social media by doing a really cool birthday celebration offer. By celebrating people’s birthday on Facebook we immediately became their friends and it worked out well for us too.

SlopeFillers: What is the biggest marketing lesson you learned about tahoe?
Milena: Tahoe remains a drive up market and people from the Bay Area are looking for deals. With a tough economy it’s still important to make people feel they are getting a good deal. The Bay Area is also very tech savvy so social, video, and mobile should be at the forefront of a successful ski marketing strategy. People want to know the conditions, where you are located and the rates. Tahoe is a very competitive market with many ski resorts so close to each other. Finding a niche that resonates with your customers is crucial. Diamond Peak’s positioning with kids and beginners has worked out extremely well and it matches the resort personality.

SlopeFillers: What is the biggest marketing lesson you learned about integrated marketing?
Milena: All marketing efforts need to be going in the same direction and driving the same message. It’s super important to have a consistent voice on traditional and new media and to create events and promotions that complement the brand. We concentrated more on kid friendly events and less on hard core terrain park comps because we realized we needed to be consistent with our audience. Find your voice, make sure it works for your brand and then stay consistent on all platforms. You’ll still need to modify the message slightly to fit with the specific audience but overall consistency is really important.

SlopeFillers: What was your favorite marketing moment at Diamond Peak?
Milena: Hmmm, I really have too many of them: from talking to customers who tell me what our brand is to the teeth, to helping out operations on a busy day, acting as a model in photo shoots, creating fun special events, strategizing for next season with various vendors, being out with Diamond Pete (Diamond Peak’s mascot, a really good looking penguin) and Santa with the kids, or shooting the next kids commercial. If I have to pick one moment, it’s being with customers on the mountain- riding the chairlift and talking to them and understanding what drove them to Diamond Peak and why they love the place. That’s probably the reason I like social media so much: it’s getting the feedback from your customers that you can’t get from a TV or a radio spot.

SlopeFillers: What are your plans now?
Milena: I’m planning on concentrating on my own social media and digital company with Out&About Marketing and helping companies in the health& fitness, recreation and outdoor industries connect with people online, transform their marketing efforts and create legendary marketing. When a company provides an outstanding product or service with excellent customer service they are guaranteed to do well in social media and I can point them in the right direction with a well thought out social, digital and mobile strategy. I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun doing this, meeting new people along the way and improving the world in general by creating remarkable marketing that people actually need. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I’m ready for the challenge.

SlopeFillers: What does the future of ski resort marketing look like?
Milena: Connecting with people on social and mobile and providing them the up to date conditions with audio, video, text messages, photos. The technology is there for ski resorts to use it. RFID, QR codes and smartphones has changed the way people consume content, purchase lift tickets and connect with friends on the mountain. Ski resorts need to play catch up with people who are already using this technology. The IT and the Marketing departments will have an even more crucial role in the future. Skiers/riders are extremely tech savvy and they will continue to request that they receive information they way they are used to it. I see exciting times ahead for the ski resort industry!



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