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Perspectives
The two resolutions every resort marketer in the country should make for 2016.

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

I’m going to suggest you do something this year. I’ve suggested it before. I’ll likely suggest it again.

It’s a small thing, but a huge thing.

Small because it takes a few bucks and a little bit of time. Huge because it helps you see things and feel things you can’t see and feel any other way.

What We Suck At
Our industry is full of incredible marketers. People, like you, who are insanely good at their jobs. At telling the world about your mountain in a way that gets them to act. To visit. And to visit again.

But there are two things that, simply because of the nature of this business and how long it takes you to get to the top, we suck at.

The first is seeing through the eyes of a beginner.

The second is seeing through the eyes of a customer.

Beginners
Have you ever had kids? No? Well, ask a parent to confirm and they will.

When you have a kid and let’s say hypothetically that kid sleeps worse than any other child that has ever landed on this planet. Guess what, you don’t sleep. And you get cranky. And you stay up all night laying on the floor next to this kid so you can stick her pacifier back in her mouth every time it falls out because you know that if it’s out of her mouth for more than 2.6 second she’ll wake up and it will take an hour to get her back to sleep again.

You know, hypothetically.

Well, those parents have another kid. And do you know why they have another kid? Because they forget.

And they forget because slowly – day after day, month after month – that kids gets better at sleeping and melting your heart and making you wonder if you realized how boring and pointless your life was when you weren’t a dad.

Here’s the thing. The same thing happens with skiing.

Because by the time you’ve been in the industry long enough to become a marketing director, you’ve had so many powder days and milestones in your ability level and perfectly stuck landings that you can’t remember what it’s like to suck. You can’t remember what it’s like when it seems you’re in everyone’s way and you wonder how the heck everyone else makes skiing so easy.

Customers
And that brings me to customers. Because the other thing most of us haven’t done in a long, long, long time is something you expect your marketees to do every…single…day.

That, my friends, is pay for a lift ticket.

We have so many friends who we’ve hooked up and so many friends who can hook us up, that everywhere we turn there’s a comp waiting for us. So we take it and ski and fail to realize that we haven’t felt the pain of paying – something, again, our customers feel every day – in years.

Even more, we haven’t skied like they have. Because once you ski based on your income rather than your network, you realize that 90% of the skiing you do is skiing that you can’t afford.

Because when you’re making $50k or $75k a year, it hurts really, really bad to but that 3 day pass to Park City. It hurts even worse to stay in that lodge you love and that cramped studio without the mountain view suddenly looks like a great option.

Again, this is stuff you’re asking “people like you” to do.

Two-Fold Challenge
So in 2016 I’m challenging all of you do two two things.

  1. Become a beginner at something for a day.
  2. Pay to ski somewhere once.

Becoming a beginner may be as simple as putting a board on your feet if you’ve only skied or going to a ballroom dance class or strapping a gallon of milk to the tip of one ski and a gallon to the tail of another just to make skiing near impossible. Because that’s how it feels when you’re a beginner at something. When you have no clue what you’re doing. When you’re lost and frustrated and embarrassed. And that’s the feeling you need to remember.

And as you buy that one pass to ski somewhere, pay attention to why you choose one option instead of another. What alternatives flash through your mind as you browse prices. Notice how it feels as you type in your credit card number or that temptation to go here instead of there because, it turns out, $75 really is a heckuva lot of money.

Take the comps the rest of the year, but just once get the full experience.

We need beginners and we need customers. If we can’t feel and see and go through what they go through, we’ll have a tough time getting them to do what we need them to do.



  • jj

    There is simple wisdom in these two comments.

    I struggle to think like a beginner, but relate fully to the customer.
    Since ski travel writing is a “hobby” for me I most often pay my way. This brings a certain credibility to reporting. It conveys to folks where/how/why a savvy ski enthusiast decides to go skiing to get the most bang for buck. This helps with the fine line between customer advocate and industry shill.

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