Opinion » Maxed Out

Time for a moment of collective clarity

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I think it was my mother who said, "It's not very smart to keep doing the same thing over and over and think something different is going to happen."

I remember thinking, "Well, that depends on whether you think you're going to get caught or not, doesn't it?" But since I'd been caught — not that I remember what it was I'd been caught at — it seemed a rather tepid and ill-timed comeback.

I didn't realize my mother was plagiarizing Albert Einstein, but I'm pretty certain she didn't realize it either. It's not like you need to be a theoretical physicist to grasp simple truths. Maybe you just need to be simple, or at least have a moment of clarity.

I think we may need a moment of collective clarity. The problem with seeking clarity is you have to step out of the dance you're doing, calm your mind and look at things differently, otherwise, you just keep seeing the same patterns you always see, doing the same things you always do, hoping something different is going to happen. Which we've just agreed is unlikely, according to both my mother and Einstein.

As an aside, Einstein said this amounted to insanity. My mother said it was just silly. Pick your own label.

So what is it that's unclear? Good question. I don't know about you, but I get an uneasy sense Whistler is caught in a whirlpool. We seem to be doing the same thing over and over again and not getting the different result we're hoping for.

What thing is that? Chasing growth.

The theory — seemingly sound — is that a rising tide lifts all ships, growth in tourist numbers and room nights means more business for everyone, a better bottom line, a more robust economy, happy business owners, well-paid staff. Pardon me while I pry my tongue out of cheek. The reality seems to be growth just means more people spending less money at businesses that seem to be disappearing faster than snow in the valley.

The recently concluded winter season was a record. At their annual general meeting, Tourism Whistler reported room nights grew by 18 per cent over the 2010-11 winter season. Last winter also saw the resort finally scratch its way back to total record numbers; 2011-12 visitor numbers were one per cent greater than the previous record year, 2000-01.

We shoulda been dancin' in the streets, not going to memorial services for late, great, shuttered businesses.

Before we get into a lot of back-patting on how our collective business strategy of "winning back the destination market" is paying off, let us take a humility moment. In the world of ski resort business, we hit the jackpot in the winter recently past. Strategy-schmategy, we had snow and the other guys didn't. We were skiing in December while our doppelgangers in Tahoe were still riding bikes on ski runs. We were cursing our snow removal people while resorts on Colorado's front range were making sno-cones for people to ski on. Ve vere schussing while the Europeans were wondering whether Greece was going to queer the whole EU experiment.

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