Arapahoe Basin
 
 

Sunshine Village Utilizes Google+ Hangouts to Stream Live Events

With all the bashing Google+ receives for their low engagement and user numbers, it’s easy to overlook a few cool features that the site does offer marketers. One of them is the idea of Hangouts: a social take of video chats allowing more than 10 friends to banter and connect through their web cams.

Hangouts have been evolving since the launch of Google+ with YouTube integration being a primary focus. One of the newest features is called “On Air”. As you guessed, “On Air” is a simple way to broadcast live video to you followers on Google+.

The first resort to get in on the action that I’ve seen is Sunshine Village. They’ve been broadcasting a handful of events including concerts and the classic, Spring “Slush Cup” that many resorts throw as the season winds down.

The idea of a live-broadcast has me split in terms of a marketing sense. Part of the value of getting people to the resort is to, well, get them to the resort. Once there they’ve added one more day to their seasonal tally making season pass fence-sitters a little bit more likely to renew, they can they spend money on food and drinks, and being at the resort gives them the full experience.

On the flip side, it’s not feasible for destination guests to visit every weekend to participate in each and every event your resort throws. In that sense, I like that it gives out-of-towners a chance to be involved with your mountain in a real-time setting outside of their annual or semi-annual visit.

Good or Bad?
Like most things, I think using live streaming certainly has it’s place. Unlike an Xgames broadcast that puts Aspen’s slopes in front of millions of eyes that AREN’T customers, letting skiers come to the mountain virtually should be used wisely.

While my marketing jury is still out on the early use of this technology, I think I’d prefer to see streaming events limited to destination guests. Perhaps emailing all your guests outside of a 2hr drive radius and offering them “exclusive viewing as a thank you for booking a vacation last winter” might curb my fears that you’d be giving locals an excuse to not come up.

For Sunshine, I think it’s a pretty good fit. With a record season then kept going and going, it was a good reminder to fans and followers that, yes, they were still open for skiing and let them remember the vibe on the mountain to get them back. Either way, love to see Sunshine once again adopting new technology to work toward their marketing goals.


 

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  • http://www.wackytourist.com Shawn_Alain

    Thanks Gregg. Yes these hangouts definitely are a new technology and there is lots of room for improvement for us and Google. When I first came up with the idea I looked to see who had done this before to get some tips but we really couldn't find anything like this to reference. Here's a link to a recording of one of the actual live hangouts we did http://youtu.be/_CPclQ0VCbo.
    There are two types of GHangouts, one is where you broadcast "On Air" and the other is just a chat room. The difference is the "On Air" one automatically records to your YouTube and you can only join if you have an invite but anyone can watch it (the slush cup broadcast ended up being our 3rd highest viewed day on our YouTube since we opened our YouTube account in 2007). The other "Chat Room" style hangout allows up to 10 people to come in and chat. We did both and we found that many of the people coming into the Hangout weren't locals at all but were actually from places like Egypt, Columbia, Peru, Brazil and the US. Many of them had never seen snow in person before and were just fascinated to see people skiing by and able to talk to someone who was actually there now.
    Our Social Media goals for this were pretty simple, get more GPlus followers, and we did. Running this every weekend for our concert series ending in Slush Cup we had a 30 day growth of 25% on our GPlus .
    Because of the limitations of technology (including poor quality sound) nothing beats actually being there in person, but now these viewers from around the world are able to walk away from this with a story and perhaps even a dream of coming to Sunshine Village one day and seeing snow for themselves.

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