Mountain Travel News and Spring Blizzards

Aspen/Snowmass Spring Blizzard: The Pow Just Keeps on Coming

How do you book travel? Do you go directly to websites such as Expedia.com to check out any alluring offers they’re showcasing? Or perhaps you’re more destination or theme oriented and and you sift through info. at sites such as Ski.com and On the Snow.com? Do you troll the Internet for stories from travel publications and blogs to read about places from a firsthand perspective? Or maybe you flash on video and photo postings your friends have put up on Facebook?

All the above are valid ways to research and book travel and it should come as no surprise that people are turning even more to the Internet and social media for all, including travel planning. This is some of what I gleaned last week from the Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) I attended in Snowmass, Colorado. The largest gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America, MTS also marks the beginning of the sales cycle for the next ski season. Attendees come from around the world to conduct business and to learn about what’s new and happening in the snowsports industry. This year’s 38th annual MTS brought together leaders and innovators from the ski and travel tech industries to provoke conversation and solution-seeking ideas for the1,200 professionals gathered at this dynamic event.

That included moi and like many others, I forfeited one of the season’s best powder days last Wednesday morning to listen in a few exciting presentations. Rob Torres, managing director of travel for Google, and Erik Hawkins, industry manager for travel North America at Facebook, peppered the audience with facts and figures about the exponential growth both companies are seeing in travel. They also showcased some of their latest technology including Google glasses which look like conventional eyeglasses except for their small, voice-activated camera that allows the user to do hands-free recording of sensational travel experiences. Torres also talked about “Generation C,” a group defined by their passionate mindset for video and introduced Hangouts, a virtual photo log of places and destinations being posted and shared by hundreds of photographers.

Hawkins revealed that Facebook research confirms the influence of friends in choosing travel destinations; apparently travelers are eighty percent more likely to visit a destination recommended by a friend through social media messages, photos and video. And as a result, mobile bookings are increasing rapidly. “Exponential growth in social media sharing is doubling every two years.”

Both speakers emphasized the importance of connecting and engaging their customers, a theme reiterated by Hari Nair, Vice President of Expedia, Krista Parry, Senior Vice President at Powdr Enterprises and founder of Snowmamas and Anne Taylor Hartzell, founder of Hip Travel Mama, the headliners of a presentation on blogging. All emphasized the importance of doing more than just “pushing” information on potential travel planners.

How does that translate for you? It means you’re going to see more big travel suppliers and perhaps lodgers and other companies teaming up with bloggers to educate and inspire you about travel destinations and products. They’ve also started to encourage you, the consumer, to share your travel experiences on their sites as you can see at Expedia’s find yours. All stressed the importance of storytelling, something I’ve engaged in here at my blog, Bonjour Colorado, for almost five years. (That’s also been the approach I’ve used in my books, including the four guidebooks I wrote and my recent travel memoir, entitled A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France.)

So continue to be Internet savvy and see how that will point you in the direction of your next travel adventure. The world is a most alluring place and there are plenty of people out there—professionals and nonprofessionals alike—looking to tell you about the next destination you might want to visit. And it appears that big travel companies and other travel suppliers will be right there with them offering trip planning ease at the touch of your finger tips.

MTS Partiers

More MTS and Spring Skiing Scoop

They’re a fun crowd, all those MTS folk, as you can see from the images in this post. Most are snowsports enthusiasts, people that love to have a good time on and off the slopes. The MTS welcome reception at Elk Camp in Snowmass, sponsored by Snowmass Tourism and Aspen Skiing Company, elevated spirits higher than some of the nearby towering peaks. Just before loading the gondola with my boyfriend, Steve Togni, GM of Mountain Lodge Telluride and a guy that’s attended MTS for over a decade, we were served margaritas, concocted with habanero-infused tequila, delicious libations that made the ride to the mountaintop all the more merry. Once there, we mingled with ski industry aficionados, many of whom came dressed in retro ski attire. We bopped around sampling all kinds of tasty treats from the food and wine stations set up within this large on-mountain restaurant. We marveled at some of the spectacular fire and ice entertainment provided before heading back down the mountain.

Fire and Ice at MTS Snowmass

All this took place during a super snowy week that offered some of the finest skiing of the season. Fortunately we did make it out onto the mountain a few times and even enjoyed some fine winter snow. How I love those big blue cruisers at Snowmass and the spectacular, sprawling vistas from up top at The Cirque!

Now here’s the good news for all of you:  It has been snowing in the Aspen/Vail area all this week as well. Really dumping! So much so, in fact, that Aspen Highlands, which is to remain open through this Sunday, decided to reopen the weekend of April 27-28 as well. (Snowmass closed April 14.) Vail, which officially closed last Sunday, just decided to reopen this weekend. I skied Vail last weekend and had a stupendous time. I felt amazed by the amount of snow they had and the extent of their terrain. (Somehow I had forgotten that Vail is so huge and has so much to offer.) Wow, what a spring!

We’re having a big snowstorm here in Telluride as I write this. We closed the first Sunday of April, however, I’ve been having fun playing elsewhere and also catching up at my desk. (Snowy days are good for that, too.)

Happy spring! Happy travel planning!

The Ski Industry’s Finest

Thank you to Aspen/Snowmass, Jeremy Swanson and Mountain Travel Symposium for the above images.

Thank you so very much for sharing a very special week in Snowmass during MTS. As you can imagine MTS Week is a complicated conference, but it is a labor of love. We have an incredibly hard working team and wonderful support from our hosts, sponsors and attendees. We so appreciate your comments and the coverage.
Michael Pierson, President, Mountain Travel Symposium

 

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