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“What if the only unique experience left is to go somewhere you can’t see on a screen?”

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Many a marketer has swallowed social media hook, line, and sinker. Though there are surely praises to sing about this rapidly expanding medium, I’m not one of those. I love it, but I’m not 100% sold.

That may catch some off guard, but if you read SlopeFillers regularly, it probably doesn’t surprise you.

Like the post I dropped that questioned whether our “best content” is actually killing our industry, I want to scrape an idea off the gears inside my brain today and talk about something I can’t quite wrap my head around.

The List
There are many places I’d like to go but #1 on my list has a massive lead on a #2 that isn’t gaining any ground. Now, when you consider the social streams I watch all day, if there is anyone that should be motivated by ski photos it’s probably me. Yet, my #1 isn’t Whistler, it’s not Alaska, and it’s not the Alps.

It’s the finger lakes in central New York.

It’s a place I lived for 7 months in 2009 and, more than any other destination, want to return to.

The Difference
I keep asking myself “why”. Why, of all the amazing places I’ve been, do I want, more than anything, to find myself back on a road bike rounding the south end of Keuka lake and grabbing dinner at Doug’s Fish Fry in Skaneateles? Why not Europe where I spent two years of my life? Why not Oregon, the land of my youth? I only have one answer.

The only way to see what I saw and do what I did is to go there.

You see, when I lived in CNY, my phone didn’t have a camera. The only camera I had was too bulky and heavy to carry in my bike jersey pockets, so all those incredible experiences…and those moments…can only be relived by going back. There is no way around that.

What If…
Let me sum this all up in a one sentence, “what if”, scenario:

What if the photos people take on ski vacations are giving them ways to relive their experiences that can be used as substitutes for going back?

If I want to know what it’s like to ski at Big White, I can browse hundreds of photos and videos other people have taken. Could this motivate me to visit? Sure. Could it also act as a mental replacement for the actual trip? I believe it could.

If I want to see the views from the top of Mount Washington again, I can pull out the pictures we took with an 18.0 megapixel DSLR that, at times, look even better than the memory stored in my brain. Could that entice me to go back? Perhaps. Could it be standing in the way of motivation to return? I think so.

The Bottom Line
We get so caught up in social media that we forget how much we are assuming. Among other things, we’re assuming that photos and videos are better motivators than they are vicarious replacements of the actual experience that replace someone buying a plane ticket and booking a room.

It’s been said recently that more photos have been taken during the last two years than all of human history before that. What if, for every person inspired by a travel photo, there are a thousand that only go in their mind through the travel photo? What if travelers are so overwhelmed with high resolution travel photos, the only unique experience left is to go somewhere they can’t see on a screen?

I’m probably wrong, but, to use those two words again, what if I’m not? Love to hear your thoughts…

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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