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The “No Weather” Festival

March 7, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
In the days of overloaded information, news and procrastination’s a new bully has emerged: the weather.

If the weather bully likes you, he will bring you good weather. However, just give him the slightest frown and – watch out! Forecasts for snow flurries, a chance of rain, winds that you can’t even wind surf with, feel like they are sensationalized with “advisories,” and “bulletins.”

Just as we have become infatuated with checking e-mails by the hour and texting by the minute, so it seems is our intoxication with weather forecasts.

Weather or Whether

Please don’t get me wrong. The accuracy of weather forecasting has come a long way. It plays an extremely critical role when significant weather is on its way. The ability to predict weather saves countless lives.

I am not talking about that. Perhaps it is my old age. It just seems those years ago, we would not even blink about going somewhere if there was a threat of “a couple of inches of snow.” It did not seem to bother us to travel in “rain showers.”

More importantly we would not change travel plans because the long-range weather forecast predicted “no snow.” Perhaps in this case ignorance was bliss.

But that was also during a time when visitors came to the Adirondacks and it seemed that they didn’t care about the weather. Often, they traveled here frequently. Many had come to the Adirondacks since their parents had brought them as children. They were coming to the Adirondacks no matter what. This was their destination trip and in many cases their only vacation. Week-long and even 2 week-long vacations were the norm.

My father ran our tourism business for 30 years. He never had a brochure. The same people kept coming back every summer.

But just as the news of the week has been replaced by the tweet of the last minute, what you experienced last summer seems to be as forgotten as what you texted yesterday.

Mobile Travelers

Our society has become more mobile. It is just as easy today to travel from New York City to New England, Canada and Colorado as it is to come to the Adirondacks. More and more travel plans are made at the last minute.

There does not seem to be that allegiance to the Adirondacks anymore. Even if they have a great time here, there is no certainty they will come back next year. If they love to ski there are so many more options available to them today than ever before. Glued to the latest information on the weather, if it appears that the “long-range” forecast indicates no snow or worse rain, they will look to see if other regions have “better weather.”

Besides being more mobile, the traveling public today is also more diverse. Yes, there are diehard skiers that will want to ski but if that is truly not available to them, they may seek other types of “adventure” vacations. This can range from ice climbing to scuba diving.

Be Flexible

Kimberly Rielly the director of communications for ROOST wrote an interesting post in the Adirondack Almanac “A New Climate for Winter Tourism.” Here she discusses how “Mother Nature has handed us a smorgasbord of weather so far this winter, with wildly fluctuating temperatures and at least 14 types of precipitation.” She goes on to state that “Over 90 percent of all travel research is conducted online” and that with the “the prevalence of smart phone use, potential visitors are able to check the current weather in Colorado while walking down the streets of New York City.”

Due to weather, “business owners need to be nimble enough to switch modes quickly with respect to marketing.” Luckily, as she points out, the new marketing can be a “toolbox full of flexible tools such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Google+…”

I would suggest that we go one step further.

Not only should we as individual businesses consider changing our marketing on-the-fly due to weather, but can we collectively as a region create last-minute “No Weather Festivals?”

Okay, we would not call it that. But here is the idea:

The Mobile Festival

On the one hand, we need to be very flexible when it comes to our marketing program due to the weather. On the other hand, as a community we have created events that are scheduled to take place the same time each year. They are often planned well in advance and take place no matter the weather.

But what do we do in between these events?

Let’s use for example, this last winter in January when there were not a great deal of events. We counted on the snow to bring in the winter traveler. When there was no snow or worse yet, it was predicted there would be no snow, many a drop in business.

Besides suggesting other winter activities, could we create a last-minute “Winter Festival” that would have some catchy name?

This winter festival would be nothing more than taking all of the activities and amenities of various outdoor AND indoor venues and promoting them together. This would not be a new event but a collection of existing activities.

There would be 3 key differences however:

1. Instead of each of our small businesses promoting “Oh boy, I better change my marketing theme because there is no snow in the forecast,” we would do this together.

2. Besides changing what we highlight for outdoor activities, we would also include our incredible diverse array of indoor activities.

3. We would brand all of these existing activities as a “winter festival.”

The New "Mobile Event"

The new marketing medium allows us an exciting opportunity to promote what I call “mobile events.”

For example, while there may not be enough snow to alpine ski, we may be able to promote ice-skating, winter hiking etc. If we combine these revised outdoor activities with our indoor events and pulled it together under one banner, it would look like there is still a lot to do here. Pendragon plays, artist events, music, winter festival shopping and dining specials, Wild Center and VIC activities would give it a “carnival” atmosphere.

How could we do this? If we believe what almost everyone is telling us and that is you cannot rely on the weather anymore, we could pre-plan these “Mobile Festivals.” We create one for each season and put the framework together in advance. Looking at a master calendar of events would be a key tool to bring together existing activities.

Should it appear that we cannot rely on snow in January...

...or in June the long-range weather forecast gives the perception that July will be a rainy and cool month...

we can launch these winter, summer and fall “mobile festivals.”

Our communities are made up of small businesses.

There is only so much we can do by ourselves.

We should be prepared that the new weather bully in town is only going to get more onerous and better informed.

A well-armed and flexible community posse may be needed.


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