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Catamount integrates online video to entice visitors

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Catamount Ski Resort, a smoky mountain hideaway located in Hillsdale between New York and Massachusetts, is not the largest ski resort in the region, but it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Two years ago, Catamount experienced a record season and sales increases thanks to an online marketing platform that provides both real-time tracking and analytics.

“Dragonfly approached us in February 2007. Their offices are a few miles away where their conference room overlooks our ski area,” said Rich Edwards, VP-marketing at Catamount Ski Resort. Dragonfly is an Internet video solutions provider that allows companies big and small to build revenue through full-spectrum, streaming HD video with advanced analytics.

“[Catamount’s] Web site was OK, but they wanted to expand,” said Guy Nouri, founder and chairman-CEO of Dragonfly.

In March, the Catamount site logged 35,000 viewer minutes, and 80,000 through January and February.

“We have what we call ‘Vunits,’ or the amount of views a video receives per minute—in our case, 10-second increments,” Nouri said.

Catamount’s current video of children engaging in winter sports has registered 10,500 Vunits over a three-week period. Another video that began as an ad on Fox Sports had over 185,000 Vunits between Dec. 1 and April 1.

“We get about 12,000 viewers a week, putting us around 52,000 site viewers per month. It’s a certainty that people are coming back for more,” Edwards said.

The resort Web site has logged 275,000 Vunits since Dec. 1.

There are two Dragonfly windows on the Catamount home page: Flash pictures to the left and video on the right. When any one picture is clicked, users are redirected to the season pass promotional purchase page. Sales growth has caused Catamount to segue this interactive promotion toward lift ticket purchases and rental arrangements.

“When deciding where to place your video, you have to consider how many people you traffic in and out of your site, how long these users are staying on and how much of your content they’re actually engaging in,” Nouri said.

Catamount visitors may not be watching the entire length of videos or browsing all other content, but they are staying on longer, averaging one minute per viewer.

Video should not be a huge production, Nouri said. It has to be something businesses can control in both the content and quality of their information.

For example, the Daily Snow Reports take about 30 minutes to integrate. Combined with production time, uploading is no more than an hour and a half.

Film production is currently under way to promote video lessons and tips of the day for the Snow Sports School. Video segments will be expanded to showcase lodging and dining facilities next season. Web page advertisers will also be incorporated.

“We don’t want to overload [the interface] so it distracts viewers from poking around our site and never coming back. We want to be somewhat selective to our target market,” Edwards said.

While this year’s profit figures have yet to be released, Edwards claimed that revenue has increased 10% to 15% in comparison to its 2005-06 season.

“Business is up again this year, despite a rainy February because of these videos,” Edwards said. It’s more engaging and meaningful, unlike the photos we originally posted on the site that never changed. It’s an incredibly efficient technology.”

“The best part is they were willing to do all of this. and that is one of the keys to success in this business,” Nouri said. “You have to be willing to do it or don’t do it at all.”

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