Thursday, January 19, 2012

So hard to believe or accept and such a staggering loss to all of us - rest in peace my friend, we will never, ever forget you and the impact you have made on all of us in so many ways...Rory, my deepest sympathies to you for your loss, words cannot possibly express - but if you ever need anything, just ask.

Sarah Burke you are and always will be a beautiful human being in every way - we will all miss you so, so much.

I just can't say any more right now - perhaps later when some of the shock and sorrow abate.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Snow

Well, the snow is finally starting to arrive - not all at once, but in dribs and drabs...and we are grateful for it.

It's one thing for skiers and riders to decry the lack of snowfall in the Adirondacks so far; they're just missing out on their fun. Of far greater consequence is the economic impact on the region where so many people rely on winter activities to make a living. It's not just those who work at ski resorts either. In weak snow years, the food and beverage industry sees less guests, the hotels, motels and lodges see less guests, the corner stores, sandwich shops, ski shops all see less business.

Then, think about the implications for the state's tax revenue. New York already has more than enough financial issues to worry about, right Andrew Cuomo? What happens when meals and lodging tax revenues drop for 4 months? How about sales taxes? Yeah, you get the picture.

OK, so it's easy to point the finger at the implications of a poor snowfall season, but not so easy to find the answers.

Let's start here: more funding from I Love NY advertising for the winter months. Currently, such programs typically focus on the warmer months with the schedule for their's easier and safer to advertise when the weather has less of an impact of the flow of tourism dollars and far more of a risk to spend those dollars during the winter season when Mother Nature could throw out a nasty curve ball.

However, look at other states who realize so much revenue from the winter months, particularly from sports like skiing and snowboarding. Vermont spends a greater percentage of advertising dollars in the winter than does New York. New Hampshire (notoriously tightfisted with their money) also spends a higher percentage of advertising dollars in the winter than does New York.

Guess what? They are "known" to the general public as being homes for winter activities and sports. Yet, New York has more ski areas than both Vermont and New Hampshire combined, approximately. You do the math. See any correlation between the lack of financial support for the winter months and the reputation that follows?

Take a step forward New York. Look at how you allocate your advertising dollars and how the I LOVE NEW YORK advertising budget is distributed, step up and make a difference, not just to the resorts and the people who work directly for them, but also to all those other people and businesses who rely upon the winter influx of guests simply to survive in a tough economy. You can do this!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Snow Finally! Well, some anyhow

Waking up early to a light blanket of fresh snow is truly on the the joys of mountain living. It blots out whatever your past week has brought and builds new levels of energy you thought had been lost through the turmoil of the work week. It soothes and holds forth a promise of what the new day will bring.

Hank the cat races around the house at an ungodly hour, almost begging to go out and play in the soft white expanse - yet knowing he won't set foot outside the door once he realizes just how cold it really is. His time will come when the lake freezes three feet thick and we take out one mile jaunt across the lake to look at our camp, now secured tightly against the howling north winds we see every year. There is nothing like playing in the winter white with an animal who truly enjoys being outside and revels in his freedom and shows it.

The french roast is bubbling - sweet, dark enlightenment - rousing the body in preparation for time on the slopes...the skis are waxed and ready, crying out to thrash the mountain - this promises to be one of those days we all know we need. Freedom awaits - the unfettering of mind and body, the company of like minded people - the perfect balance of adrenaline and relaxation.

Soon the snow will accumulate and the new Volkl skis will come out, the old rock skis being put away for another year - the weekly pilgrimage to the tuning bench will commence and all will be well in this world.

Join us at Whiteface Mountain and leave your training wheels at home - this mountain means business and so do we.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lost in (inner) space

The music is cranking in the ears - Phish is alive and well. The tuning tools are laid out on the bench, crying out to be used, to make the skis come alive with their need for swift arcs and screaming speed.

Mix the combination of waxes to obtain just that right blend for the conditions coming - mixes of harder groomed snow, the fresh snow we're being promised and whatever else the steep, nasty monster we call Whiteface cares to throw at the slick sticks. We may not have the softness of Western snow, but 3,430 of vertical is nothing to scoff at, particularly once there's enough snow for the slides to be open.

The solitude of working on the equipment is just right for a Sunday morning, accompanied by the power of a dark French roast.

Enjoying the feel of every detail that goes into a clean, sharp edge and of the details that lead to just the right amount of wax and the glossy black of the finished base...all holding forth a promise of a perfect day on a mountain, any mountain.

Muscle time: strip that wax down to the next to last layer....scrape it, buff it, brush it - over and over until it's just right to the touch - until it gleams and says "take me out and let me show you what I can do."

Skiing is so much more than just a sport or activity - it's is more than just a day outdoors. It is truly an experiential event on so many planes. At times, it is a religious experience where mind and body and environment meet, become one and leave you breathless in the wake of the intensity and passion. It is, at times, the essence of life.

On skis, more than the music is alive and well - I am alive in a way no other experience can over match. Live to ski - ski to live.

Change: Inevitable but never easy

Still settling in to an old, yet somehow new environment - new responsibilities, working hours,! Somehow, I think I envisioned this being far easier and in the process, did not give enough thought to how much I would miss being outside and feeling the rush of cold air through every turn, the jokes and laughter on the chairlift, the camaraderie of the ski school world, the race world - even the dealings with sponsors.

The old hometown is familiar and comforting in some ways, yet too simple and limited in others. Perhaps the subject is being over thought, perhaps not.

Summer is simple - the lake beckons, the hiking through the mountains I know like the back of my hand beckons and I can find myself in those spaces and feel at peace. Winter is a different story when waiting for snow and limited in the time I can spend on it - the restrictions make me uneasy in some ways and make it harder to sleep with memories of Colorado floating through my head.

They say time heals all and I suppose that is yet to be determined - waiting and waiting is not the easiest thing to do, so I drive myself to perform, seek the solitude of the gym, the quiet of the mountains and wait, wait, wait.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

All over the yard

It's a strange and crazy world of media these days. Personal social media, TV, radio, interactive banners, text links, paid social media, blog sponsorships, paid social media can anyone keep track of it all, much less ensure the content you push is of sufficient quality? And, let's not forget about accountability.

Research helps, but honestly, how much time does that require and where's the time coming from? Generally, it's more time than one has available to spend on it.

What's the key to what you do? Consistency with the core value(s) of your brand or the brand you are trying to promote. When you're representing a client, LISTEN to what they have to say - look at the feedback their customer base has been providing...these are some of your critical keys. This is one of the lessons social media can take credit for hammering home - listening is a fundamental skill that has only grown in importance.

Couple this approach to the creation of your message with frequent, high quality content. Too often, we see a tendency to advertise a given theme over and over until the message is falling on deaf ears. They "get it" people and you can't keep beating the same drum over and over. Too often, we worry about the medium in which we reach people, rather than the content we are pushing out there.

Take Aspen Skiing Company for example. The web site content is high quality and it changes constantly. Their social media content changes constantly and it's high quality. They have created the feeling that if you don't keep an eye on what they are doing, you are going to miss something...and it might well be something you want, or even better, need to know, see or do. This sort of sense of "urgency" has been created with hard work and, more importantly, a high level of understanding about how people think, how long they pay attention and what really matters to their customer base. They listen and because they do, they "get it." It's a great example to follow.

Keep in mind one thing: no one has all the answers. Just look for and at those who are always looking to be better - to listen constantly, to think things through and who know creativity, fresh content and new ideas are what work, regardless of the actual medium.

Well, those are the media ramblings of the wizard who can't sleep this morning...stay tuned to this channel for the next installment of the ramblings of a sleepless mind....peace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Been a while

Well, it's been a while. The time spent at Attitash left little or no time for my own thoughts and written wanderings but now, as I make changes and prepare for a move and a new beginning somewhere close to my heart, perhaps it's time for a few more musings.

Social media is now the thrust of one's daily work in the ski/ride resort world for so many reasons it's hard to list or quantify them all.

For me, the most important aspect of social media is "virtual listening." Fans and friend in the social media world all have their own needs, wants and concerns and too often, resorts are unable to resist the temptation to reply quickly without really spending the time it takes to understand those needs.

Yet, without doing so, how can resorts fairly and fully address the expectations their fans and guests have of them?

Listening is the key to everything. It's the hardest part because you really have to apply yourself and think long and hard. It's easy to post video, photos and whatever other content is interesting to you or which you feel is useful to your brand.

When a guest has a concern, don't settle for the face value of what you see or hear. Delve deeper and expect that others may have the same or similar concern. The more who feel that way, the more impact your "answer" will have. Place yourself in their shoes, if only for a few minutes. Ask questions and develop a rapport. Engage and give of yourself and of your resort. In the long run, the feeling you show will be communicated to your guest or fan and believe me, it will be appreciated.

Social media is not about clicking buttons or adding content, although quality content matters. It's not just about your message or your sales pitch.

Social media is about the results of what you say and do and HOW you say or do things.

Transparency is a good thing. Social media is a critical communication tool that brings good things to the forefront and communication is about listening and the efforts that follow.

Have a great day, month and season...and stay tuned in for more musings and ramblings about subjects which are, hopefully, germane to the world of skiing.