Archive for November, 2008

Back on the slopes!

Hooray – I got in two runs yesterday morning on our opening day at Park City Mountain Resort. They weren’t full length runs, as I was up with our videographer (great video by Erik Hutchins) and also had a camera and was taking some photos myself (BTW the guy on the right side of this photo has struck the same pose two years running). But it was great to get some sliding in and satisfy myself that the season is ‘officially’ on!

In truth, this has been a slow starting winter for us and much of the Rocky Mountain region. We’ve had unseasonably warm weather and little snow, which leads to a bit of a challenge for a resort marketer, particularly in today’s challenging economic times. At least with the resort open, we now have a positive and tangible message to start putting out, I just hope it snows (a lot) and soon – see you on the slopes!

Photo credit: Me, shot for Park City Mountain Resort

Happy Thanksgiving – Say it Through the Computer Screen!

KaitlynnRaising a little one in this day and age of ever-evolving technology presents some really cool opportunities. Kaitlynn, our nearly 21 month old daughter, can already use a variety of remote controls and when she looks at my laptop she cries out, “Gamma” or “Pappa” because she knows that we video chat with my parents and my wife’s mother on a regular basis via Ichat and Skype. This is the topic of an interesting article that I just read in the NY Times today:

The Web cam adventures of the nursery school set and their grandparents offer a glimpse at what can be gained — and what may be lost — by almost-being there
With families getting more and more spread out across the country, the ability for children to connect with their relatives via the internet is amazing. Particularly during the holiday season, it is such a blessing for Kaitlynn to see her Grandmas and Grandpa, and to say ‘Hi!’ There is something so much better about being able to see each other in real time as opposed to simply having a conversation over the phone. I love that our daughter is building a stronger relationship with her grandparents and that they are also getting the chance to see and interact with her much more often than they can in person.
So, during this Holiday time, I’d like to give my thanks to those great innovators that have helped put forth the technological advancements that have made video chatting a reality and I’m looking forward to see what they come up with in the years to come, “Thanks!”
Photo credit: Hoffman Family MacBook Pro

So, what's been going on for the past seven months?

img_7382The ski resort business is seasonal. Sure, most resorts offer some summer activities, but the vast majority of our visitors come during the winter months of December through April. So it’s now been about seven months since a paying skier or snowboarder has gotten on a lift, and since then there have been quite a few changes in the world:

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped nearly 5,000 points, from nearly 13,000 to just above 8,000 – less money in consumer’s stock and retirement accounts.
  • The median price of a home in the U.S. has dropped by about 9% – people feel less wealthy with declining home values.
  • Average scheduled daily flight departures from the Salt Lake City Airport has dropped 32,852 from December 07 to December 08 – fewer opportunities for consumers to get to Park City.
  • Cruise lines have added seven new large ships this year with around three quarter of a million passenger nights to fill between them all – another winter vacation option for consumers.
  • Oil has risen to nearly $150 per barrel and then plummeted to about $50 per barrel – if driving is cheap again, will consumer fly?

These ingredients along with the general malaise in the country will almost assuredly cut down on the number of visitors that we see this winter. The Christmas/New Years Holiday, which is a real barometer for ski resorts, is just over a month away, and already some local lodging properties are starting to offer deals for this peak demand time. Yikes – only another month and we will know how what’s been going on for the past seven months will truly affect the ski resort business.

Photo credit: Me

Blogging and the long tail in search engine results

I haven’t promoted my blog as much as I should, but guess I wanted to first reassure myself that I actually could keep up a consistent stream of interesting posts so as to not have my thoughts wither away and have my blog turn into one of those dead, five or ten post blogs, that are all over the web like blog flotsam. This evening, I looked through this, still very young blog, and saw that I’ve surpassed the ten post road block and the blog is already nearing its one month anniversary.

Google search for resort marketing blogSo, after barely three weeks of being online, how will my blog do in some Google searches? I figured I’d start out with a  ‘long tail‘ search for ‘resort marketing blog,’ and wow – my blog was the fourth result..not bad. Next, I tried ‘ski resort marketing’ and to my surprise, my blog was on the first page, on the bottom at number ten, but page number one! This shows that search engines give serious weight in long tail searches to blogs, particularly ones that are updated regularly.

I’m now quite interested to track the search engine results of my blog over the coming months, and I’m stating to link to my blog via my LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile as well as via commenting on other blogs (just the link in the commenter name, not in the comment itself). I’m also curious as to why it seems that so many companies and individuals are still not blogging about their businesses or areas of interest? Perhaps this something that only certain segments (marketers in particular) are egaging in? Or, do many people still not recognize the value of keeping a blog?

In Person Social Networking in Minnesota

Minneapolis Ski and Snowboard ShowI spent the past few days in Minnesota, helping to staff Park City Mountain Resort’s booth at the Minneapolis Ski and Snowboard Show. If you haven’t been to a ski show before, let me set the scene: a mix of booths from local resorts, destination resorts, ski & snowboard manufacturers, a tooth whitening company (that was weird), a collection of outdoor gear for sale from a local retailer, a ski ramp, a terrain park ramp and a trampoline show (that was weird too). The cool part is, this eclectic mix attracts casual to diehard skier and snowboarders who come together to get themselves psyched up, and in some cases geared up, for the coming season.

I hadn’t worked a consumer ski and snowboard show in five or six years, so it was great to have the chance to chat with so many of these folks. As I was talking, many of my conversations lead me to think about what the social networking tools that are now available to us are – simply another way to engage prospective customers. And what do you do with your customers? You talk with them, find out what they want and then try to provide that good or service as best you can. This isn’t a cake walk, its long hours and you tend to repeat the same selling points time and time again. But, if you have a product you believe in and put in the effort to really engage each person that you talk to the process is really the same whether it’s at a ski and snowboard show in Minneapolis or using social media.

Anyway, this truly was a great trip because I finally got to see not one, but two Minnesota Wild games at the Excel Energy Center and they won both, hurrah!

Skiing as clarity

08111-skiingA few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Christopher S. Penn titled “Choking in Clarity”, that resonated with me. In his post, Chris describes being on the receiving end of a choke technique as a time for absolute clarity of focus. While I’ve never been one for martial arts (or choke techniques for that matter) his description of absolute clarity of focus led me to ponder if there were a time that I find myself entering into a similar plane of consciousness…

Well, a main reason that I work in the ski industry is that I love the experience of sliding down a mountain on two planks, to be precise, I telemark. And like many skiers or snowboarders, the best part of skiing for me, is riding down a mountain blanketed in large quantities of light, fluffy and untracked Utah powder (shameless plug inserted right there).  The thing about skiing in powder is that the feelings are so intense that you do literally lose track of everything but the pure and wonderful moment that you are in. I can’t come close to breaking out the sensations individually, but it’s simply something that I crave. And when I’m skiing in that perfect thigh deep powder with snow billowing up to my sh*t eating grin, all the while giggling like my little girl, all I can think about is the next perfect turn to the next perfect turn to the next…and I experience my absolute clarity of focus.

By the way, I’m more than happy to let you keep your choke techniques Christopher, but boy I do love your description and idea of a moment of absolute focus. 😉

Photo credit: Dan Campbell
Skier: me – savoring a moment of absolute clear focus (notice the smile and giggle)

Two weeks until opening.

081108-openingOur scheduled opening day (always have to say scheduled, because you never really know for sure) is just two weeks from today – yikes! Even now, going into my sixth season working for a ski resort, I still feel the pressure of needing to have so many projects finished up and ready to roll by one hard deadline. However, it’s always great to catch up with all the returning seasonal staff who are starting to show up in the office and hallways again. In many respects, I have to think it’s like getting ready for the first day of school for a teacher – probably similar in pay scale too 😉 (I definitely wouldn’t do this job if I didn’t love it).

Here’s the kicker, a few months ago, I thought it would be neat to head back home to Minnesota to help our sales department out at the Minneapolis Ski & Snowboard Show this coming weekend, from November 14-16. Due to the show times, we actually leave on Thursday and come back on Monday, so my brilliant decision means that I have just seven more working days, instead of ten, until opening, guess I’ll be spending some time working remotely from the hotel. If you do come by the show, please stop by the Park City Mountain Resort booth and come say hello to Brooke or myself.

Photo credit: me!

What's the matter here?

Burton LoveThe title of this post doesn’t much relate to the topic I have in mind, but I really like that 10,000 Maniacs song. Anyway, my topic is an issue that is currently percolating in the winter resort/snowboard community. To point, Burton created graphics for two of their current snowboard lines that some consider ‘controversial’. Their Love and Primo lines have graphics that feature suggestively, scantily clad Playboy models and line drawings of self-mutilation. I’m not attracted to either of the graphics personally and while I’m not personally offended by either set of graphics I wouldn’t spend over $400 for them either. Neither am I concerned by the fact that young teenage boys might get their hands on these boards, because I think that it’s a parents’ responsibility to manage what their children buy and possess. The  issue I do have is if employees of a resort are using these boards while on the job which to me is a simple case of employee standards and conduct.

To sum up, I think this is a case where a large corporate company is attempting to create shock value in order to try to stay ‘core’ in their industry. This is a tough line to walk in the action sports industry where many companies have enjoyed great success only to crash just as quickly because their customers decided that their products were no longer ‘cool’. Burton knows how the game works and have been on top for a long time – I don’t think there’s any reason to think they’re going anywhere now.

Early voting is great?

The option to vote early, is a great thing about living in Utah (there may be a few other great things but I can’t think of them this late)! So last Thursday, after hearing rumors of long lines and an upcoming snow storm, I decided to take the short walk from my office over to the the early polling location at the Park City Library, and do the deed. When I walked in, I found perhaps 20 people sitting in the hallway outside the polling location and was briefly chargrined until I figured out that they were all waiting for an upcoming City Council meeing. Moving on, I quickly got properly signed in and voted in five minutes tops. That was it, it wasn’t even November and my civic duty was fulfilled – and now I’m waiting for closure. I’d almost rather stand in line for a few hours than submit myself to what I know is coming tomorrow – hours of talking heads on our TV and me sitting on the sofa with my laptop trying to figure out if the election is heading in the direction I hope it will.

Hmmm, maybe early voting isn’t such a great thing after all?! Bring on the snow, that’s definitely something great about living in Utah!

Photo credit: tifotter

Snowcone fun

I just found the Utah Tourism TV ads that I mentioned in my A Tale of Two Lunches post from earlier this week. I’ve got to say that, although I’m not a fan of the medium that these ads are primarily intended for, this ad (in particular) gave me a chuckle, and as I say in the title of my blog, it is all about fun!

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