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Is Bad Resort Publicity Ever Good Resort Marketing?

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
   

I alluded to this yesterday but wanted to dig a little deeper. Here’s the deal, during the last month, the Top 25 ski resorts on Facebook grew their fan counts by an average of just over 4.5%. The leader among them was surprising: Squaw Valley at over 8%. Last month, when the average growth was still near 8% (the leaders with 18%+), Squaw Valley grew by only 5.7%. What changed? Lots of things, I’m sure, many of which are hidden behind the scenes. One element that was different, and very publicly so, was the Facebook uproar caused by Squaw’s decision to close the Silverton lift mid-week.

The only way to show your anger at it’s closing (or support others who already had) was to become a fan, because only fans can “like” and post on their wall.

“Ok, Gregg, now back up a sec, are you trying to say that because every Squaw local hated their mountain for 48 hours, this caused their Facebook fan count to spike?”

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Now, am I trying to say that this was an intentional, planned event? No. Although, if they had, they wouldn’t be the first. Take for instance the guy that intentionally offended the daylights out of certain customers just so they would post negative reviews of his website all over the web. Why? Because all those negative reviews contained valuable links which drove his search rankings through the roof.

Even Gap was accused of creating their new logo merely as a publicity stunt. Some people thought the only reason anyone would switch to a logo that ugly was to get attention, bring Gap back into the media spotlight, and then pull up the curtain and say, “Just kidding!” Some argue that, if that were the plan, they knocked it out of the park.

Stuff like that reminds me of the freshman point guard who shoots a deep three to win the game instead of running the play the coach drew up. If it goes in, he’s a hero. If he misses, he’s a villain.

To intentionally play a game of social media good cop/bad cop takes guts. Announcing something from “management” (bad cop) that is destined to be offensive only to let your social media guy (good cop) come in and save the day carries some risky baggage. I don’t think this is what Squaw was trying to do, but heck, when it comes to Facebook fans, it might have just worked out that way after all.


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