Originally appeared in the Conway Daily Sun April 6, 2011
Case study – Imagine you were responsible for marketing a destination resort somewhere in the mountains. This imaginary place is beautiful every season of the year. Outdoor activities abound most of the year and indoor activities have proven very successful in attracting visitors as well. Today, the only really slow season is spring. Historically, three time frames were very slow for business – generally, in between skiing and hiking, waiting for foliage, and after foliage but before skiing. Why is there now only one slow season remaining, and how would you market it?
The first question I would ask is what has happened to cause the slow fall dates to get busy and why is spring still slow? Years ago, some very community minded folks brought the Mud-bowl to town, scheduled soon after Labor Day - the traditional end of summer vacation. At the same time, travel trends changed and people began to take several shorter vacations throughout the year instead of taking two weeks or more all at once.
Building on the more frequent weekend trips, more activities were created by locals, like the Bark in the Park, the Carroll Country Dog Show, Pow-Wow, and others. These days, it’s difficult to plan another event for a September weekend; it feels a lot like summer. I remember booking a group trip to Jackson for the first weekend in November. The hotel practically gave us the rooms to fill up during such a slow time. Retailers of course will tell you that the first two weeks of November now compete with, and sometimes beat sales for Thanksgiving weekend, thanks to the hard work and genius of the outlet malls and chamber of commerce marketing. So if activities fill up September, and shopping and events fill up November, what could we do with spring?
First up, I suggest we lose the term Mud-season – if you were a butcher, you wouldn’t call your fresh-cut, grass fed, organic, shade-grown, free range, angus beef “dead cow” would you? Why do we call this beautiful time of new life, fresh beginnings and renewal – mud season? Who named an entire season on the only negative aspect we can think of? We don’t call ski-season “Freeze-to-death-and-slip-and-fall-on-your-butt-season”! We don’t call foliage season “Everything-dies-and-become-ugly-season”! The chamber has used the term “Bud to Blossom”, which I must admit, sounds better than mud-black fly season.
Spring is when everything becomes new and beautiful again. It’s a time for new life and new growth; which can be speaking of plant life, wildlife, or your own personal growth. Like the folks that came before them, community minded locals are busy promoting spring as a new time to enjoy life and to enjoy our valley. Throughout April, I’m offering a series of business skills seminars to help local businesses take advantage of the slow time to work on personal and professional growth opportunities.
This year, we’re calling May Kindness Month – sandwiched between Valley Pride Day, which is always the first Saturday in May when over 1,000 volunteers go out and clean up the entire valley and finish with a big celebration. This year, May ends with Kindness Weekend happening coinciding with Memorial Day weekend. Kindness weekend will feature author and speaker Michael Chase, founder of The Kindness Center and a day of volunteers fanning throughout the valley committing random acts of kindness, followed by a rally back at Schouler Park. Memorial Day weekend is also the grand opening of Mount Cranmore as a year-round attraction, which is a big deal in my opinion. May also brings us Mother’s Day, a home show, another home and Garden Show, and events all over the valley.
The MWV Chamber of Commerce has a growing list of spring events on their web site calendar www.mtwashington.org , where everyone can start planning ways to get involved.
Like everything we do in business, let’s look at the situation and see what we can make of it, not what’s bad about it. Watch for daffodils and lilacs, new song birds and bear cubs, children playing outside (yes, in the glorious mud) and think of new things you can do to improve your life, your work and your community. Happy Bud to Blossom Season!