Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook (1 Dec ’14)

Winter is here… sort of. It promised well a couple of weeks ago after a snowstorm blanketed social media with glorious images of fresh powder and even fresh tracks for a while. But since then… nothing much.

Average fan growth for the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook ticked up to just over 8% in November, from under 2% in October. Only four in the top 50 did better than that, however.

Val d’Isère is the stand-out story this month, growing its fans by a third to leapfrog into fourth spot. Fresh snowfall, the promise of early opening and the Criterium de 1ere Neige all boosted its buzz.

Then there’s the hackathon it is running all this week to develop a new resort app – high-concept, high-profile, ‘the highest hackathon in the world’:

Elsewhere, Risoul has had a makeover on social media and popped up this month in 41st spot, just in time to take advantage of the new snow:

Ditto Val Cenis, which jumped to 44th:

Le Lioran was the only other resort reporting above-average growth (+9%), after it launched a new, responsive website:

That’s it for now. Keep snow-dancing! Here are all the scores, as recorded on 1 December 2014:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 116,680 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 48,910
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 41,276
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 26,544
  5. Grand Massif – 13,361

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 170,276 fans
  2. Megève – 115,146
  3. Chamonix – 76,429
  4. Val d’Isère – 63,855
  5. Tignes – 58,205
  6. La Clusaz – 55,062
  7. Les Menuires – 52,244
  8. Courchevel – 51,639
  9. Les Arcs – 50,432
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 43,179
  11. Les 2 Alpes – 40,956
  12. La Plagne – 39,770
  13. Cauterets – 39,564
  14. Serre Chevalier – 35,924
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 31,608
  16. Avoriaz – 31,314
  17. Saint Lary – 28,385
  18. Vars – 26,495
  19. Méribel – 23,478
  20. Les Gets – 18,172
  21. Orcières – 17,917
  22. Ax 3 Domaines – 17,829
  23. La Norma – 17,641
  24. Le Dévoluy – 14,623
  25. Les Sept Laux – 13,730
  26. Lac Blanc – 13,427
  27. Peyragudes – 13,317
  28. Les Contamines – 13,176
  29. Châtel – 12,904
  30. Les Orres – 12,857
  31. Morzine – 12,410
  32. Montgenèvre – 11,454
  33. Saint François Longchamp – 10,865
  34. Valloire – 10,495
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 10,036
  36. Aussois – 10,024
  37. Sainte Foy – 9,951
  38. Piau-Engaly – 9,552
  39. Les Saisies – 9,384
  40. Le Lioran – 9,125
  41. Les Angles – 8,378
  42. Risoul – 8,055
  43. Chamrousse – 7,703
  44. Gourette – 7,309
  45. Val Cenis Vanoise – 7,185
  46. Praloup – 6,979
  47. La Pierre St Martin – 6,933
  48. Le Corbier – 5,670
  49. Samoëns – 5,621
  50. Luz Ardiden – 5,382

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 1 December.

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Making sustainability sing in ski resorts – spotlight on: Les Gets

When it comes to climate change – and there’s no doubt any more that it has come to that – many ski resorts have historically had a tendency to keep a low profile, because they don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they generally have, today, less (natural) snow.

This is ironic, because actually mountain resorts have enormous potential to differentiate themselves by engaging positively on the environment. All the motivation you could possibly need to respect and be inspired by nature is right there, on the doorstep. I know it’s why I live here.

#ActOnClimate

Protect Our Winters (or POW), a non-profit organisation fighting climate change on behalf of the snowsports community, recognises this and highlighted it powerfully by campaigning around the hashtag #ActOnClimate:

More specifically, acting on sustainable development in mountain tourism has great potential to build brand awareness and exposure, reputation, consumer engagement and loyalty.

I want to be part of that

So how to engage people in what the resort is doing to become more sustainable and activate them to become fans of the effort, without dwelling on the negative effects of climate change? So that, as POW executive director Chris Steinkamp put it“consumers say to themselves, ‘that’s cool, I want to be part of that'”?

This is essentially the key challenge of marketing sustainability and the question I decided to pose to a number of different French ski resorts over the next several weeks. Several of them are doing great stuff to make sustainability sing and I’m hoping to help just a little bit by identifying, highlighting and sharing some creative solutions and ideas that work.

Environment is core in Les Gets

First up: Les Gets.

“For us, communicating on sustainability started out as a natural strategy, not a calculated one, but now it is: it is part of our brand. We are a family resort, a charming village, a part of the Portes du Soleil and we protect the environment – these are our four core characteristics now.” (Gaëlle Le Coz, Les Gets Tourist Office)

Thanks very much to Gaëlle and Chrystelle Felisaz at the Tourist Office there for taking the time to take me through everything that’s going on in Les Gets.  There was plenty to talk about but three initiatives in particular stood out for me as cool:

Nature-friendly accommodation scale

Edelweiss label Les Gets

The resort has launched an ‘Escale Nature’ for landlords and hoteliers, whereby their accommodation can be classified as 1, 2 or 3 edelweiss, depending on how many eco-efficiency criteria they comply with. Criteria include energy economy, waste management and a reduction in noise pollution.

What’s cool about this? It raises awareness among accommodation providers, engages them in the overall resort effort and gives them a way to differentiate their offering from the competition, as well as encouraging them to make eco-efficiency improvements. Neat. At the same time, it also raises awareness among visitors to the resort about the choices they can make.

The resort just needs to make sure the system is robust enough, in terms of criteria and compliance, so that the edelweiss rating is credible and meaningful. It could also make it more prominent on its central reservation site, so you could easily search for 3-edelweiss accommodation, for example. It’s early days yet, but looks promising.

20% off a day pass for eco-citizens

Second, a special offer this year is delivering the clear message that it pays to be more environmentally friendly.

This coming winter, drivers of an electric vehicle can get 20% of a day ski lift pass, as well as benefiting from reserved parking spaces and two electric car charging points in the resort. Simple, and highlights the resorts new electric car charging facilities.

Night navettes

Better still, don’t use a car at all, electric or not.

les gets navette nocturne flyer

Les Gets has a free shuttle bus circulating during the day to outlying areas and the lifts to encourage people to leave their cars at home.

That’s not unusual, but often these buses only run until the early evening. If you want to go out at night and are staying centrally, you still have to get your car out, or get an expensive taxi.

This resort’s answer? In the evening, it subsidises a pick-up on demand service that will take you where you want to go in the Les Gets area for just 2 euros per adult.

Win-win… win

So three quite different initiatives with one thing in common: they’re a win-win – for the resort and its customers. Oh, and there’s a third win, for the environment.

These ski resort websites are getting personal

For a while now, I’ve been watching a trend towards making the ski resort website experience more engaging and personal. Two French resorts – La Plagne and Les Menuires – stand out for going in that direction this season and doing it particularly well, in my opinion. Curious to know how it is working for them, I got in touch with both.

Be more engaging

First, let’s take a look at what they are up to and why. As Greg Blanchard of Slopefillers said in a recent post about North American ski resort websites:

“Right now, we have sites that, like a brochure, are generic, static, and passive. To me, a website needs to be the opposite of those three things. It should to be personal, dynamic, and actively engaged in moving the visitor closer to your objectives.” 

La Plagne’s website is aiming to be exactly that, as their press release stated at the start of this season:

“L’idée est désormais de parler à toutes les typologies de skieurs et d’adapter les offres à chacune d’entre elles.”  “From now on, the idea is to speak to all types of skier and to customise the offering for each of them.”

So its striking home page invites you to indicate if you are a family or a couple / friends, what kind of atmosphere or setting you are looking for – altitude, villages, or valley – and what your skier profile is: Cool, Explorer or Dynamic.

la plagne home page

Choose any of those options and offerings come up that are tailored to the selection you’ve just made. So if you say you are coming as a couple or with friends, activities come up that are more suited to adults, like snow scooter excursions, or trying out bobsleigh. Click family and it’s bob raft that comes up instead of bobsleigh, and a link to ski schools.

Even smarter, perhaps, is inviting you to indicate what type of skier you are. La Plagne again:

“La communication était jusqu’alors destinée aux sportifs expérimentés. Les skieurs débutants et intermédiaires pouvaient avoir le sentiment d’être délaissés.” “The communications up till now were aimed at experienced wintersporters. Beginner and intermediate skiers could get the impression they were being neglected.”

Say you’re a Cool skier and a whole offering opens up especially for you, showing you a reduced rate lift pass deal, special Cool zones on the mountain and a video that sets out “3 steps to (re)discovering skiing”.

Similarly, choose Explorer or Dynamic and the offering changes to suit. Dynamic skiers are directed to the Paradiski Unlimited pass, while the video highlights the off-piste possibilities, the more challenging pistes, and adrenaline activities like the air bag and the Chronospeed piste where you can measure how fast you ski. Ingenious.

Hello, how may I help you?

Les Menuires is also going in the direction of greater personalisation with its gorgeous new website, but tackling it in a slightly different way. Its home page asks you first off whether you’ve been to Les Menuires before, whether you’re coming on your own, with friends, family or as a couple and what level skier you are (or non-skier).

les menuires home page

Depending on what you select, once again, you are shown various options tailored to suit. Say you are coming on your own, you come regularly and you are an advanced skier and you won’t have to wade through activities for kids: instead you will be directed straight to individual lift pass prices and some of the more exciting activities like paragliding.

“Lors de la création du site Internet des Menuires / Saint Martin de Belleville, le challenge a été fixé dès le départ : conserver la promesse d’un séjour « exceptionnel» et la traduire dans une expérience utilisateur simple.” “In creating the Les Menuires / Saint Martin de Belleville site, the challenge was fixed at the outset: retain the promise of an ‘exceptional’ stay and translate it into a simple user experience.”

So explains Yannick Siveton, in charge of the resort’s web marketing. Personalisation of the experience is a key element in achieving this aim, he stressed, as is the responsiveness and beautiful, image-rich flat design.

Results so far

So how is it working? It is early days yet for Les Menuires’ new site but the website stats Yannick shared with me show a marked improvement already in the quality of the user experience:

  • bounce rate down 19% and regularly below 30%
  • page views / visit up 16%
  • average visit duration up 23%

Over in La Plagne, webmaster Stéphane Thomat additionally highlighted a noticeable uptake in accessing their fully responsive website from tablets (+76%) and mobiles (+44%).

My user experience

Personally I found both sites very striking and engaging, in quite different ways. It was easy to find my way around for the most part and indicating what type of skier I was etc did lead me to some options and information I might not otherwise have found or thought about.

Both also tie in and encourage engagement with the resorts’ various social media platforms and their respective hashtags: La Plagne in the corner of its home page and Les Menuires on a separate page with a nice interactive touch.

Seasoned skiers might find it annoying to be guided to an array of options, so both sites still have the traditionally organised menus for those who know where they’re headed and just want the piste map or a restaurant.

Most importantly, beginner skiers will surely now feel they are being welcomed and catered for.

Overall, these two websites look smart, act like they care about you, and offer you an array of tempting activities and relevant information. Personally.

We’ll be watching closely how they develop.