Monday, December 29, 2014

The power of branding: Bluffton, SC moves into Forbes list of top 25 places to retire

Last year our research center worked with marketing gurus Rawle Murdy on a new branding campaign for the cute little town of Bluffton in South Carolina. And the work we accomplished is already paying dividends. “Bluffton: Heart of the Lowcountry” has moved into the Forbes list of top 25 places to retire in the U.S. The list is based on housing and living costs, taxes, weather and air quality, crime rates, doctor availability, and active-lifestyle rankings for walkability, bicycling and volunteering. Forbes also looked at economic data with an eye toward a "working" retirement. But of course being the perfect place to retire means nothing if people don’t know about it – and that is where branding comes into play. You can read more about our branding project at And see the full Forbes list at:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Early season snow critical for ski resorts

I am up in the Canadian Rockies at the moment working on my new book ‘Winter Sport Tourism’ that will be coming out later this year. The resorts here have received plenty of early season snow. Practice runs for last week’s World Cup races at Lake Louise had to be cancelled because of too much snow. Contrast this to Europe, where the men's World Cup giant slalom and slalom races scheduled in Val d'Isere this week have been cancelled due to a lack of snow in the French Alps. Early season snow conditions and skier perception of these conditions greatly influence the momentum and success of the overall season. Demand is often the greatest at this time (over the New Year period in particular), so poor snow conditions can be expensive for resorts. A 2012 study by the American National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that the ski industry in the U.S. lost over $1 billion in aggregate revenue because of poor snow seasons between 2000 and 2010. Skiers and snowboarders can be a fickle bunch – it is hard enough to tempt them to get up to the mountains in the first place. In fact, in America only 4.3% of the population take to the mountains each winter. Compare this to the percentages in Switzerland (37%), Austria (36%) and Norway (25%). Easily the most important factor for skiers/snowboarders is the quality of snow conditions, with more than eight in 10 skiers indicating that this is extremely important or important to them in terms of destination selection. So let it snow!!!