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TV / Video
If I Were a Smaller Resort, I’d Stop Making Resort Videos…Seriously

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I typically focus on a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to many of my posts. This week, I’ll be focusing more on the smaller mountains and sharing some insights and ideas specific to them. It doesn’t mean you big guys can’t benefit, but I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the little guys.

Have you ever created a video? I mean 100%, start to finish: planning, shooting, downloading, editing, rendering, and uploading? It’s no easy task. During grad school, I jumped on the chance to take a video production class and was blown away by how long it actually took to make a quality (relative to my more hasty work), 30-second film.

I remember a one 3-minute video I put together that took nothing short of 8 hours to create. With practice you get faster, of course, but making even a short, scrappy video is typically a 1-2 hour commitment.

Three Strikes, Video is Out
For a large resorts with striking visuals, big-budget events, lavish accomodations, and the ski experience reaching the level of a “luxury”, a large volume of in-house video can be a critical piece of the pie because the revenue generated from videos justifies an allocation of marketing dollars for videos.

However, at a smaller resort, I see three reason why you should, for the most part, stop making marketing videos themselves.

Many of these videos are being created by well meaning, but underskilled, marketers. They may be great at branding, but only dabbled in lighting, framing, audio, and editing. The result is 4-5 hours of work for a video that detracts from the message, the brand, and the experience you’re trying to share. Like putting me in the kitchen for 3 hours to make quiche, I’m just not a good enough cook to make an end product worth the time spent to create it.

I’ve seen a large number of videos that are almost exclusively shared on social media. These are posted right along side photos that take 5-10% of the time a video takes to create and share, but actually get less engagement than photos. Plus, it’s 100x easier to get a near-professional photo than it is to get a near-profession video. Consider Instagram. In less than a minute you can capture, enhance, and share a photo on multiple social profiles.

The time you spend creating videos is time not spent on other responsibilities. When I browse your YouTube channel and don’t see video after video with just a couple hundred views, I can’t help but do some mental math. The conclusion is always the same: a half day of work simply can’t be worth 197 views. With so much on resort marketers’ plates these days, video should probably take a pretty low spot on the priority list at smaller mountains.

The Bottom Line
For most of you, the time you spend creating videos is simply not paying off – you simply don’t have the time, skills, resources, or audience for a positive ROI. Instead, consider photos for social content and evaluate other ways you could better use that time.

If you still want to create videos, turn to professional videographers or, even better, your guests. Chances are they are already shooting, editing, and uploading their own footage from their days on the mountain. Many of these “budding filmmakers” would be completely pumped to work for free if they could put your resort’s name on their resume.

That’s what I’d do.

  • A recent article I read on independent testing of EdgeRank on Facebook actually ranked a video, not only as less than a picture, but even less than just a plain old text only status update. It's like WTF, go to all that work for a single post that doesn't even get the reach of a plain old status update? I'm not saying forget about videos all together, but it's another reason especially for smaller resorts to, like you said, focus your time and resources on posts that get better results.

    • O I see your link to that article now showing the weight of all. One thing I would add to that article is that I find the single photo does even better than an album of photos.

    • Less than text updates? Eesh. That's crazy stuff.

    • Their EdgeRank is pathetic, that's why I just had to sprinkle the ol' company Amex on a Facebook promoted post when we launched the Valhalla MTB edit last week. Sigh.

  • jjj

    Do the slicker videos from top resorts also record very low view counts?

    Also, something I've heard only anecdotally is that a video posted to YouTube and labeled "Chipmunk skis at XYZ ski resort" and truly containing that kind of goofy content has a chance to garner many more views, especially over the long run, than one labeled "Powder Day at XYZ ski resort" that shows great skiing in fresh snow.

  • Ken

    Hey Gregg,

    Very interesting post, and I have a few comments.

    Totally agree with your point. Small resorts should not make their own videos for all the reasons you give, however, I believe that skiers/riders making and posting their own videos is completely different. The resort gets the exposure they need via compelling video content from their customers (without all the cost and trouble).

    To shamelessly plug my company, we at FrostByte Video are putting in automated video systems at resorts to accomplish what I describe. It truly is a win-win-win (us-resort-skier).

    Finally, I also noticed a new trend for resorts to promote and support skiers via helmet cam video rentals. Check this out at Mt. Bachelor… Very interesting…

    Again, the skier is doing the editing / uploading of video, and the resort enjoys the ancillary revenue and more importantly, the very compelling social media content driven by their customers (not the resort themselves).

  • Ken, great points and I wondered if I'd get your attention with that headline ;) UGC is definitely an area that these resorts can capitalize on when it comes to video. It's the resort-created videos that aren't worth half the time put toward them that need to be cut or vastly improved in both creation and promotion if they are going to pay off.

  • Ken

    Yes, I agree with you totally. The resort-created video is way too much time, hassle, and cost. This is why I am suggesting that these smaller resorts focus on promoting and encouraging skier-generated video content instead.

  • In regards to "making it worth it": If resort X makes a great video hyping snow conditions and does not place it on their snow report page for 24-48 hours (the most trafficked page for most ski areas), they are wasting the effort. Youtube or vimeo is great for hosting, but embed where your relevant traffic is if you want it to convert web visitors into actual visitors. Snow report not able to embed a small video? Then you have a silo problem.

  • Tim

    Great post, Gregg. I know all too well the reality of pouring hundreds of hours into a project that gets little to no views. The excuses are many — my promotion sucked, my seo sucked, my story sucked, etc — and while I agree that small resorts need to ensure they don't waste time chasing a medium that's not going to pay dividends, I do think there are ways to use video that don't require high production value. For instance as Alex mentioned, a short snow report. Show the powder, the smiling faces and the snow piling up. The trick is to do it in a way that the low quality doesn't take away from the point.

    As an editor I always want to see the best content, but you hit the nail on the head when you talked about the reach and value of a photo vs. a video. Which is why I think you should write a post on how to take photos. I can't tell you how many horrible photos I see that end up on Facebook and in my inbox that were a total miss. The worst part is I don't post them and resorts loose out.

  • Pingback: Want Resort Video but Don’t Have the Time or Talent: This Should Do the Trick : Ski Resort Marketing -

  • We have most certainly suffered in the past from the additional production time for little return (although we create systems for video production that cuts time needed drastically). I think there is far more value in creating "timeless" content vs a "daily report" as the time specific material has a very defined shelf life (unless something outrageous happened in the clip that people will want to watch over and over – eg: blooper). Having said that, so few resorts do decent daily reports (Australian resorts seem to have this well under control), so there is definitely a market, though just not big enough to warrant the time. Catch 22 really. Who'd have thought photos would trump videos in value and viral ability?

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