SNOWMASS, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado’s tourism leaders want to better use social media to boost skiing — the state’s second-largest industry. They are using the Mountain Travel Symposium to discover new technology and ideas to accomplish that goal.
“The Mountain Travel Symposium is the largest single gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America,” said symposium spokesman Bruce Rosard.
The biggest issue facing mountain travel companies is that skiing has been suffering because of recent years with less-than-desirable snowfall. This while leisure travel has grown five percent a year.
Now these Colorado mountain towns are trying to merge the two — skiing and leisure travel.
More than 1,200 people from ski resorts to ski-related business attended the conference in Aspen on Wednesday to learn about technology leading toward new clients.
“You’ve got to look outside and look at technology and look at innovation and look at the travel industry at large,” said Rosard.
“We want to take this to a whole new realm where we make it so more people are traveling,” said Google Managing Director for Travel Rob Torres.
Torres said his company has worked hard over the past few years to improve the experience for online users.
“We need to do a better job of assisting and suggesting versus just answering,” said Torres. “We should almost provide you an answer before you even type in a query.”
He said that kind of interaction will spur new tourists especially for Colorado’s destinations.
“Expose what you have to the rest of the world because now you can. You can show what you’re showing in Aspen Snowmass to places in Europe,” said Torres.
Facebook’s Travel Industry Manger Erik Hawkins said research shows it’s a personal connection from a friend or a relative that will inspire your next trip.
“We see a lot of our consumers are sharing their experiences. We think that’s going to be an important trend that will continue. Forty percent of people rely on social media to make their travel decisions,” said Hawkins. “We have over a billion users and each of those users are sharing a lot of information and has somewhere between 200 and 300 friends so that’s a very large group of folks with a very meaningful social graph.”
That is something resorts are trying to tap into.
“My big takeaway is that these guys were talking about the mobile world and the video world and how that is the future we’re living today,” said Aspen Snowmass spokesman David Perry. “Colorado is so perfect, right? We have the best snow. We have the best climate. We have the best resorts. We just need to tell our story in a more compelling way.”
Some of the suggestions discussed on Wednesday are already in practice. For instance, use the Streetview feature on Google Maps to find a trail.
Apps like Vail Resorts’ EpicMix allows skiers and boarders to share photos and information from their phones while on the slopes.