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And the organization is increasingly going to get called on it. Which brings me to my next point. While talk of social media and its impact on business has been all the rage these last few years, it was often more wishful thinking than reality. Not anymore. From tweeters to bloggers, from Facebook posters to YouTube video makers, social-medianots have finally turned the marketing/communications world on its head.
Consider the snowsport world. Long before a conventional press release can go out, hours (sometimes days) before the local marketing mavens can massage their message, net-connected snowplay keeners around the world know EXACTLY what's going on at Whistler. Or Aspen. Or Verbier. Or Chamonix.
But it goes much further than that. This, after all, is the McLuhan revolution we've all been waiting for. No longer is the "message" controlled by a handful of upper-echelon insiders. No longer is the mass distribution of messages dependent on costly, old-school production methods.
Today everyone is a citizen reporter. And the technology has never been more human-friendly. From increasingly sophisticated smart phones to super-lightweight head-cams and plug-and-play editing suites, the communication toys available out there are allowing people to create personalized messages that are just as compelling (sometimes even more so) than those produced by the so-called pros.
And nowhere is that more evident than in passion-driven activities like skiing and snowboarding. Doubt my words? Just Google "Whistler" or even better, surf on over to the YouTube site and type in "Whistler riding." You'll be flabbergasted by the range of messages, stories, testimonials, raves... and put-downs and complaints that our little mountain redoubt engenders.
Yes, some of them are goofy. Many are in bad taste. A few are even agenda-driven. But they're all out there for the aware consumer to review. And that totally changes the game.
It truly is a revolution. Which begs another question. How does a traditionally-structured marketing team à la Tourism Whistler adapt its ways to take better advantage of such a game-changing global trend? Don't get me wrong. I'll happily concede that they're trying. In fact, TW's latest advertising campaign is a big step in the right direction. But they've got a long ways to go yet...
Which brings me to my final observation. While our local marketers still struggle to make a dent in the international destination market, there's a very promising trend happening at Whistler that remains well under the radar. Let me explain.
Back in the day, Whistler's ski (and snowboard) bums were mostly recruited from Canada's big cities. They came from Toronto and Ottawa and Montreal and Thunder Bay... and many of course, from Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. A few even made the snow-pilgrimage from south of the border. Still, the overwhelming majority of young people attracted to Whistler's slopes in the early years were Canucks. That's not the case anymore.
June 17, 2013, 5:00 PM
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