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Snapsportz Revisited: The “Rome+Breakfast” of Terrain Park Marketing?

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I’ve mentioned this before, but I recently read Dan Ariely’s book, “Predictably Irrational”. It’s a fascinating compilation of experirments that show us how there is a pattern to the illogical manner we sometimes (okay, often) make decisions. One of my favorite examples dealt with choosing a hotel in Rome versus choosing a hotel in Paris.

The basic experiment went something like this. If given the choice between a nice hotel in Rome and a nice hotel in Paris, people don’t chose one more often than the other. It’s a 50-50 split. However, if you give a third option – nice hotel in Rome with free breakfast – with no comparison Paris is forgotten about, and between a hotel with or without breakfast, the decision suddenly becomes “easy”.

The takeaway is simple: we humans like to have something to compare to when we make a decision even if the difference makes us a very small part of the experience.

Snapsportz is something I touched on in an interview with founder Ben Kottke more than a year ago. You stick an RFID chip on your person, ride through a terrain park (or tubing hill, zipline, etc.), and RFID scanners trigger cameras as you ride that take photo-sequences of you doing tricks on the various features.

I, for one, love the idea. It takes on-mountain photography even one step further than Vail Resorts did with their free EpicMix photos last season. Rather than taking the same photos over and over again at the top of lifts, you get unique, action shots of you doing things you’re much more likely to show off to your friends and family.

Two Models
There are a couple models that exist for using this technology. The first is the amusement park style where you get off the “ride”, can see a watermarked photo, and then pay to download it.

The other is the free model. All photos that are taken are free for the subject to use and share. This is oversimplifying their system (that is actually becoming quite robust) but you get the idea. Both models feed social sharing but only the first generates revenue directly from the system.

How I’m Seeing It
I see a resort with Snapsportz much like the “Rome hotel and breakfast”. Like free breakfast, a photo of you doing a trick is a small part of the skiing experience, but it differentiates the resort and gives your skiers a comparison. Rather than being Resort A (Paris hotel) and Resort B (Rome hotel) where the reasons to go to both could be as identical as two hotels, Snapsportz helps people make a decision.

It’s not just Snapsportz, many add-ons fall into this category from the skier-perspective:

  • Cookies (Beaver Creek) or S’mores (Northstar) at the end of the day
  • EpicMix or a mobile app recording your day on the mountain
  • A unique bar or experience on the mountain or once you finish skiing

These add-ons, like so many other things in marketing, provide unique comparisons between two resorts that help us humans make sometimes irrational decisions that no focus group will ever pinpoint.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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