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What I’d Do: The Only Billboard That Faces Your Ski Resort

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
   

I sometimes feel I do too much critiquing and too little suggesting. Like, somehow, I’m the 400 pound, mullet-sporting guy on his 3rd beer at the baseball game yelling at the 3rd baseman to hustle. So, every once in a while on a Wednesday I’ll try to balance the scales a bit and put my own ideas up for display, analysis, and critique. (view all ‘WID’ posts).

Over the weekend I took a little drive down to Denver with my lovely wife for a Saturday adventure. We left early and were happy to be driving toward Denver rather than into the mountains like half of the state was doing in search of soft turns. With the Westbound traffic stacked up pretty well, we wondered how bad it would get as these skiing masses tried to return home that night.

As we headed back around 4:30, we were surprised at how light the opposite traffic was. It didn’t take long for the confusion to be cleared up: there was an accident. Two actually. Each one had traffic backed up for 6 miles behind it. A normally long trip turned into a never ending nightmare for Denver skiers.

What I’d Do: A Mountain-Facing Billboard (of Sorts)
The question I keep asking is, “what if those drivers/skiers had known?” and, more importantly, “what if they had a semi-affordable alternative that let you fill more rooms this weekend?”

Now, Colorado and I-70 have it pretty bad, but a huge number of mountains have commuters that drive upwards of 2-3 hours (or more) for skiing. My mind keeps wondering what the best way to communicate two things would be. Those items being:

  1. Accident alerts and estimated drive times (even just listing normal drive times might be enough of a reminder to persuade some skiers to stay)
  2. An offer to get them to avoid the traffic, stay overnight at the resort, and ski the next day (or just stay until traffic is clear)

One of those 6 mile-long backups was 2 cars wide, the other was three. If you’ve got a car ever 30 feet, that’s more than 5,000 cars. How many of those people , if they had known about the traffic, would have paid $100, $150, or $200 to avoid the headache, spend the evening at one of your on-mountain restaurants, have a nice room to stay in that night, and be slope-side for skiing the next morning (especially on a Saturday night)?

Methods
Getting the word out is, of course, the tricky part. A few ideas off the top of my head include:

  • Some sort of smaller, electronic billboard as skiers exit, maybe the outlet of a parking, with traffic updates and offers.
  • Lifties passing out flyers (or wearing sandwich boards, etc.) after their shifts are over when there is a traffic delay
  • Special, local radio channel skiers can tune car radio to as they pack up so they can hear about delays / offers

Depending on the resort, there are a lot of things that could be offered:

  • Room only
  • Room + lift ticket
  • Dinner
  • Partner offers (if you don’t have on-mountain lodging/dining)

Or a combination of all of those things. Something like, “Two accidents on i-70 near Eisenhower Tunnel – Approx Drive Time to Denver: 5:20 – Lodging Available at MyResort.com/traffic or 800-555-5555. – includes half day pass for tomorrow & dinner”

The Bottom Line
Tens of thousands of people were stuck in traffic for hours on Saturday. Again, the question I ask myself is, “what if they had known?” which leads to the next, “how do I let them know?” Something tells me that if the resorts they skied had let them know and provided an affordable alternative to waiting in traffic, more than a few would have said yes.


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