Let the Network Creator interviews begin! Each week, we would love to spotlight a new Network Creator to find out how they have built their network in a unique way. The interviews should be yet another way to share tips and best practices.I recently had the opportunity to interview Greg Hendrickson, the Network Creator of the Ski Dazzle networks. As an avid skier and snowboarder, I admit I was naturally drawn to the content on the network. Content aside, Ski Dazzle stands out by creatively combining their four event-based networks. They created a network for each of their Ski Dazzle shows, which you can navigate to from their main Ning Network: skidazzle.com. Greg and the Ski Dazzle team have recently been on the road for the Ski Dazzle shows, so thank you Greg for taking the time to share with all of us!
Tell us a bit about your overall business.
Ski Dazzle owns and produces four of the largest consumer ski & snowboard shows in the world. There are shows in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Sacramento and Chicago. The four shows draw ski & snowboard enthusiasts to hundreds of exhibitors. The exhibitors include industry retailers and resorts from across North America.Ski Dazzle aims to help consumers by making the shows the most important money-saving ski or snowboard trip of the season. We partner with ski and snowboard experts to help consumers with equipment and the latest resort info; money-saving tips; loads of family entertainment and holiday bargains.
Why did you create a Ski Dazzle Ning Network? How does it help you run and grow your business?
The five Ski Dazzle networks on the Ning platform were created to provide a connection between Ski Dazzle and consumers all year long.
Can you share your learnings on how to best use a Ning Network to drive members to events?
At Ski Dazzle we use a combination of traditional advertising, online advertising, SEO, active blogging and partnering with online ski & snowboard related companies to educate new consumers about the four Ski Dazzle shows. We integrate ticket purchase banners into the different areas of our Ning Network sites to promote and enable ticket sales for the shows.
You have four local Ning Networks in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Chicago and Sacramento, and you link to them from your Ning Network at www.skidazzle.com. Why did you choose this approach, rather than create one Ning Network with local groups?
For Ski Dazzle, each of the four shows has a different flavor and personality. We decided to provide each show with a network to showcase the different exhibitors, events, and promotions for each show.The fifth network is our social network to promote year-long member participation independently of the shows.
How do you see your network growing or expanding in the future?
We are always on the lookout for additional shows to add into the Ski Dazzle network. When that type of growth occurs, we can use the same Ning Network approach in providing an individual Ning Network for the show.We have many opportunities to expand our approach when the timing is right, including growth with innovative events like Ultimate Boarder (surf/skateboard,snowboard competition), and the many opportunities to work with our resort customers on mountain biking, road biking and other outdoor events & activities. The approach of using a new Ning Network with each new event provides us with a great promotional tool that is easy to setup, easy to use, and can grow as the business does.
Which areas of your network do you think your participants use the most?
Every year the show specific information and online ticketing draws a lot of general traffic.There is a much different and exciting level of interaction going on with the participants in our Ski Dazzle Networks on Ning. We have seen an incredible amount of growth in participation and interaction, with videos, photos, member blog entries and online discussions.
What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve encountered?
The age range of participants in our ski & snowboard network. From 18 to 80.
How does your network, and your traffic, differ once the four events are done for the season?
Ski Dazzle buys nearly $1 million in advertising on an annual basis to promote the shows. When that advertising push is over for the shows, we obviously see a change in traffic and network activity. However, with the ability to easily sustain customer interaction with the Ning Networks we've been able to drastically increase the "off-show" activity.
Which feature has been most useful for your Ski Dazzle networks?
The Feature's page and the Tab Manager have been incredibly useful for our business. The tools provide easy mechanisms to change the focus of our event home pages and sites as we move through the different shows, and enable different promotions over the course of a snow season.Another surprisingly useful tool is the Notes functions. The tools for rich text editing, html editing and preview have been very useful for the Ski Dazzle team in dealing with day to day content changes on our five different sites.