Thursday, December 4, 2014

Powder Matt: Social Media Maven

With Nakiska open, Fernie opening tomorrow, Kicking Horse kicking off with a bonus preview weekend Dec 6-7, and Kimberley following suit Dec 12, I thought it was a great time to introduce you to Resorts of the Canadian Rockies' bountiful blogger and masterly marketing VP, Powder Matt

Powder Matt in new glades at Kimberley Alpine Resort
When you think of ski resort personnel, you imagine them skiing into work each day, sitting in their desks in ski gear and zooming off for a powder rather than power lunch. This is not the case, though, for many corporate staff who work for the bigger ski areas. They are often based in major cities like Calgary or Denver, as far away from the action as most of their regional visitors.

As Senior Vice President, Marketing, Sales & Resort Experience, for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Matt Mosteller – aka Powder Matt – is one of these corporate commuters. “Most of us work here at RCR Calgary office work in a building that was originally a music store,” Mosteller says. “Now the only music that is played is the sound-track from the various Dylan Siggers and Kalum Ko videos that are sharing loads of powder skiing and snowboarding eye candy.”

Stoneham pipe (Photo by Olivier Croteau)
Don’t feel too sorry for powder lover and ski blogger, Mosteller though – his is a roving position and he gets plenty of time to plough the pow in the six resorts – Nakiska, Fernie, Kimberley, Kicking Horse, Stoneham and Mont Sainte Anne – under the RCR umbrella. To keep fit while at his Calgary desk, he bikes even in winter and sometimes skis to work.

Powder Matt’s love affair with skiing started at the age of four when he vowed to enjoy and share the incredible attributes of winter sports throughout his life. These attributes include everything from “the special bond, to the benefits of spending time outdoors, to the thrill of floating through fluffy weightless and effortless powder on a bluebird day in the Canadian Rockies.”

Matt backcountry skiing in the Purcell Mountains
of British Columbia
After graduating from the University of Washington in English with a marketing focus, Mosteller majored in ski bumming throughout the mountains of Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Montana and his favorite destination, British Columbia. It was this ski resort internship that refined his philosophy on finding the perfect work/play mix: “Being a ski bum taught me many lessons in life - respect and treat everyone with kindness as you never know when you might need a place to stay or a meal,” he says. Lesson two was laugh lots and maintain a positive attitude in all relationships. “Also, build trust into everything you do - heck even ski bums can work at banks and you can’t if you make a mistake. Go ahead and give it a try - life is built on learning,” he adds. But most of all his mantra is to stay healthy, get outdoors as often as possible and experience nature. All these facets are intrinsic to a positive brand, he concludes.

He worked his way up the ski management ladder, starting first as ski school director at Whitefish, Montana in 1991, moving on to manager of guest experience and then relocating to Kimberley, BC, Canada to work as VP Marketing in the real estate division of RCR from 1998-2001.

Fernie Alpine Resort
These days he channels his love of the outdoors, humor, positivity and enthusiasm for skiing in his prolific use of social media. “Everything is social now - the critical aspect is being authentic, be creative, and share, share, share,” he explains. He warns against the possibility of over-promising and under-delivering, though, and is insistent on listening to and learning from guest experiences. “One of the key changes is the ability to really scan and aggregate the social intelligence and understand more about your brand’s klout, the behaviors of your guests and their interests,” he says. With RCR Mosteller uses Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Flickr to disperse information and garner valuable feedback. And, as Powder Matt, he blogs regularly year round on mountain conditions, events, activities and fitness, linking with a veritable menu of social media including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, email, Reddit, Wordpress, Pinterest, Tumblr and StumbleUpon.

Will Smit at Kimberley Alpine Resort (Photo by Louise Hudson)
Mosteller says that social media is no longer just a simple update on snow reports or sharing web cam images. It has taken on the secondary role of guest relations. “It provides the critical immediate voice of customer which is so important to delivering service excellence,” he explains. “As the guest depends on real time updates to decide on where they are skiing, that day, next week or for their annual vacation, it plays a critical role in your communication plan and social media must be integrated into your marketing plan to really turn up the dial on effectiveness - depth, breadth and reach with the market.”

In order for social media to be consumed in a meaningful way, it has to be accurate, fun and, above all, an authentic voice. “We started one of the earliest blogs, PowderMatt.com, and it has really taken off both as a communication tool, so your more core guests have a place to get those nuggets of updates on summer capital work, or new trails etc, but also the vacation guests enjoy hearing the real grit and inspiration of real mountain town going-ons,” Mosteller explains.

Kicking Horse Alpine Resort
Mosteller’s positive philosophy extends to rival resorts which he sees as industry partners who work together to grow the sport rather than competition. The real challenges lie, he thinks, in global factors which are beyond the everyday remit of ski resort staff: “Airline capacity, exchange rates, and global unrest and how much things out of your control can have an effect on tourism,” he explains.
   
Mosteller’s job has included hosting the Hollywood cast of the blockbuster movie Inception at Nakiska Ski Resort where he skied with Leonardo DiCaprio’s crew. But he says all the wonderful people he gets to ski with are famous to him. For the future he recommends maintaining skiing’s original authenticity but at the same time leveraging the energy and innovation of the new people within the industry. Snowboarding has been a dynamic game changer, he says, stimulating ski companies to refine their products and positioning. “Now we see all mountain, freeski, big mountain, and ski touring all on a growth trend,” he adds.


Multi-tasking Mosteller is also a ski columnist for Canadian publications, an author - Adventurer's Guide to Living a Happy Life – and an outdoor adventurer: In January 2011 my wife and I competed in what some say is the world's toughest winter adventure race, "The Yukon Challenge" - over 1600 miles from Whitehorse to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories with 10 events including snowshoeing, dog-sledding, running and climbing.”
"Snow celebrations happen regularly when you get up to 43 feet of snow- but they never lose their magic
at Fernie Alpine Resort," says Powder Matt

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