I created thesnowway.com’s Aggregator to manage ski blog content. When I created it, there was a general lack of quality aggregation tools available (at least those that did not utilize an email client as a reader). I created the Aggregator for my own use. But since it was internet based rather than a local client, I shared it with others thinking I could increase exposure to other ski blogs.
Some might say that I was curating content. Visitors to TSW’s Aggregator could not control the feeds. I selected a collection of interesting blog feeds and others viewed my collection if they wanted.
I always had reservations about this public feed setup and the TSW integration. There is a lot of concern in the blogosphere about stolen content and attribution, and I can relate. TheSnowWay.com recently had a photo lifted without permission and poorly placed attribution.
Neuvation’s January 3rd Newsletter (removed since posting) struck a chord. John Neugent was writing about the cycling industry and competition between local bike shops and online retailers, but the same issues are at play in the ski industry (incidentally, many bike shops double as ski shops).
Neugent is biased as his internet sales are much more robust and profitable compared to his brick and mortar sales. I come from the opposite retail perspective: a brick and mortar store with higher sales than our rapidly growing online store. Yet our vision regarding loss of business to online competitors is the same. Neugent writes:
“My job, either in my retail store or on the Internet is to give customers what they want while at the same time make a profit. Because of the Internet and more recently smart phones, our customers have fundamentally changed. Retailers who don’t change with the market will die.”
“The debate in the cycling industry should be how we can best provide those core services to our customers at a profit and not try to figure out ways to change their shopping habits.”
This is well put and on point. Customers want to utilize the internet to get the best deal. Consumers have developed shopping habits that include internet based comparison shopping. Local shops cannot change customers shopping habits, especially by brow beating them with guilt.
Exploration and novel experiences are critical aspects of the TSW philosophy. We all have untapped passions removed from our grasp only by lack of experience. Imagine a current passion removed from your life if you hadn’t had that first engaging experience. And now imagine what other potential passion is currently untapped. For shame. You can’t imagine it because you haven’t yet experienced it.
Even within our existing passions we often leave potential doors shut through intentional avoidance or passive omission. So I am proposing TheSnowWay.com Challenge: ski three “new to you” ski areas this coming season. A bucket full of bonus points if you make personal sacrifices or travel great distances to make it happen. Still more bonus points if you can link them all into one epic trip. Ultimate bonus points if you grab a friend and double the novelty through shared experience.
Being a fan of “lesser known areas that rock”, I am going to propose a few such lists. Magic, Burke, and Saddleback combine to form a triangle of the best lesser known ski areas in their respective states. I’ve also combined what I consider to be the three best lesser known areas by state for Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Or make up your own list. Go nuts. Go for five new areas. Go for one. Just go for something novel. Your favorite area might just be one that you have never skied.
Magic, Burke, & Saddleback for NNE
Ragged, Balsams, & Black for NH
Magic, Burke, & Middlebury for VT
Black, Abram, & Saddleback for ME
Make up your own challenge list
My list? Sutton, Orford, and Owl’s Head: an Eastern Township Trifecta. One long weekend, three new areas. Not necessarily in the “lesser known areas that rock” category for Quebec but certainly in that category for those of us stateside.
So get out there and try something new. Experience something different and foreign. Put yourself into an uncomfortable and vulnerable state. Open yourself to the novel and push your boundaries. Be it skiing or otherwise. Especially otherwise. But start with skiing if nothing else. Nothing is worse than stagnation.
Or… The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.
For those keeping score at home, here is a list of the recent developments at Jay Peak:
18 Hole Championship Golf Course
Tram Haus Lodge
Ice Haus & Parking Garage
New Hotel Jay
And that is just getting things started. Within my lifetime (maybe), plans include a new Stateside Lodge, additional Stateside base development, Stateside lift upgrades, and the West Bowl expansion. Jay seems to be reigning in exact plans and time lines until the current dust settles. Regardless, a complete reconstruction of the Tramside base area is just the beginning of changes at Jay Peak.
Old Jay, New Jay
At the new Tram Haus Lodge, an original Jay tram car sits in front of the Taiga Fitness & Spa Center. It is a bizarre juxtaposition that epitomizes change at Jay. Within the Tram Haus Lodge, fancy signs and railings incorporate haul rope from the original tram cable. The new Tower Bar’s center piece is a lift tower and sheave setup from the defunct Green Mountain double chair. The Customer Service desk and ticket windows have replaced the pizzeria but you can still grab a slice in the International Room. You don’t have to go downstairs to use the bathroom in the Tram Haus cafeteria but old schoolers still tempt fate. It’s all the same. It’s all different.
Social media allows for communication between persons, groups, and organizations. These communications are generally either peer to peer or business to consumer (and consumer to business). Facebook has been (willfully and profitably) co-opted for commercial purposes and is a hybrid of these two frameworks: peer to peer communication combined with opt in advertising which is also shared with friends whether they opted in or not. From a marketing perspective, it is the best dodge of the CAN-SPAM Act available. Facebook has become the ultimate buzz generator for business to consumer communications.
Ten years ago, a company or organization was not legit without a web page. Now you are not legit without a Facebook Fan Page. Ski Areas on the cutting edge are blogging and tweeting. Lift status updates, snow conditions, and accumulations are reported real time in text, photos, and video.
Before these impressive communication developments, skiers had to read newspaper updates, call snow phones, or watch Weather Channel Ski Reports (none of which were in depth nor could be trusted). Now skiers and riders read forums, blogs, or social network feeds to see accurate conditions in real time. Ware the resort that fluffs a report which is contradicted by multiple live reports from skiers and riders on the mountain. Total buzz kill.