With 230,000 fans on Facebook, 20000 followers on Instagram and 15000 on Twitter Val Thorens is one of the most engaged ski resorts in the world.
So during our recent visit to Val Thorens, Skipedia took the opportunity to catch up with Thibaut Loubere, Community Manager for the resort.
Q: This is your first winter with Val Thorens, after working in a similar role for Avoriaz last year. How did the move come about?
I was at Avoriaz from September 2014 to May 2015 and during this time, the team at VT noticed the work I was doing.
As the season came to an end Gregory Guzzo (director of the tourist office) and Geraldine Charvin (marketing director) head-hunted me.
It was a difficult decision to move, but a number of factors helped me. I am originally from Chambery, so it was a chance to move closer to home. More importantly, it was a chance to work with a large marketing team.
Q: Who else is in the team?
Geraldine heads the team. Ingrid produces 3-4 videos per week for our YouTube channel [over 1.6m views to date] including filming and editing. Cyril Cattin manages the web and is the official photographer for the Tourist Office. We have another Thibaut [Paulin] who is in charge of relationship marketing.
What I like about Val Thorens is that we all work together and there is a great ambience in the resort. The Tourist Office, ESF, lift pass company and resort reservations all work together, sharing data. We all have the same goal – to make the customer experience in the resort the best it can be.
Q: How did you become a ‘community manager’?
I studied at HETIC [‘la grand ecole de l’Internet’]. It’s a relatively new school – I was in the fifth year of admissions. I specialised in digital marketing and moved on to the role at Avoriaz from there. I’ve always loved photography and the chance to combine ski and my digital knowledge was the perfect role.
Q: Which social networks do you prioritise?
Facebook comes first. We have more than 230,000 fans so the scale is the largest by far.
After that I focus on Instagram. It is image driven, and within our industry we have many great images to share. If was in another industry I might not see it as being so important. When I was with Avoriaz I took their followers from zero to 5000 and already at Val Thorens we have more followers on Instagram than on Twitter.
Q: That growth in followers is very impressive, what is your strategy for Instagram?
The key factor is to have good photos – the quality of the photo itself is very important. I try not to use photos from my phone for Instagram as they aren’t high enough quality. Instead I use an SLR digital camera. The process is slightly complicated as I have to transfer the photos to my PC and then send them to my phone, but I believe it’s worth it.
I also use a lot of hashtags. I have a set of around 20 that I copy and paste into every post. That helps increase the reach beyond the core groups of VT lovers and mountain lovers to Instagrammers who simple love beautiful photos.
Q: Do you have a particular approach for all the events that Val Thorens organises?
In VT, we have at least one event per week during the season and plan for each one in advance. We tend to follow the same process for each. Firstly, the ‘teasing’. This happens a few days before the event. Then there’s the coverage of the event itself. Finally we will produce a video and report.
Q: You’ve already used Periscope (a live broadcasting service) this season. How has that gone?
Periscope allows us to broadcast live to our fans. We have an excellent internet connection across the resort, which allows us to experiment with technology like this. Currently the reach has been around 200 to 300 users – not huge, but we are very happy to be among the ‘first movers’ using this new method of reaching our fans.
Q: We’ve noticed that your approach at Val Thorens is very personal, in that you identify yourself and the other members of the team in your communications.
I think it’s important to let our audience know who everyone is. We often invite fans to follow us ‘backstage’ and show them different members of the team doing their job to create content for them. For example, showing Ingrid and Cyril making a video:
We’d like to thank Thibaut for his time in talking to us. There’s a lot of lessons there for anyone running social media whether in the snowsports industry or not.
Val Thorens have always been at the forefront in their use of new technology and we look forward to following them through the rest of the season and watching those fan and follower numbers keep growing.
Article by Iain Martin