Part of the problem of basing decisions on facts is that facts ain't what they used to be. Facts today are twisted, shaded and repurposed. The internet is the new arbiter of facts. And, as Abraham Lincoln famously said, you can't trust everything you read on the internet.
Sadly, I don't have the time to verify many of them. But, when they come from a trusted source...we tend to take them at face value.
But, it's not disruption that I oppose. Hell, I disrupted the DMO consultancy world 19 years ago. I preach disruption. Just not when it compromises the needs of the many.
And, that was my fear. That Uber, providing a much better experience than traditional cabs, could negatively impact taxi service to the sketchier parts of town if it caused a cab company or two to fail.
Here was my conceit: I was operating from the position that most cab companies were required to service their entire community 24/7. Every street. Every neighborhood. Like it is here in Madison.
I recently sat down with one of my City Council members to discuss his efforts to allow Uber to co-exist with the licensed cab companies. And his research shows that there are only 9 cities in America that require cabs to service every neighborhood 24/7.
True? I don't know...but I have no reason to question someone that has done way more research and spent considerably more time on this issue than I.
So, if Scott is right...my concern is considerably tempered.
But, it begs another concern. What the hell are the rest of your cities thinking? Not requiring 24/7 to every neighborhood as a requirement of your cab companies to be licensed?
Then, why (outside of a revenue stream) are you licensing them?
There are lots of analogies about being ahead of the curve. The most famous is probably the quote from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky who once said he didn't skate to where the puck was...but to where it would be.
The FAA, watching the disruption the sharing economy has wrought in the lodging and taxi spaces, has moved to staunch the thought of those who thought it would be a good idea to bring the sharing economy to point-to-point aviation.
I'm chin deep in a couple projects (which is why I've seen absent from this space for a couple days). And, it's another sensationally gorgeous day here in Madison...and all I really want to do is sit in a floatie on the lake.
It's only natural to brag about how your destination (or product) is better than the rest. Or, how it's one of the most (fill in the blank). I can't even begin to count how many communities I've heard claim to have more restaurants per capita than any other city in America.
But...that one would take some research to refute. Research that I'm not willing to undertake...so I just accept that it may be true.
Say something that is patently false, however...and now everything else I hear from you is suspect.
I was trolling destination websites last week when I came upon one that lays claim to having the second busiest intersection on I-95...just behind Orlando.
Except I-95 doesn't run through Orlando. And, anybody who has ever driven to Florida with a bunch of screaming kids knows that.
It's also a claim that cuts both ways...even if it was true. On one hand, I guess the overly exhuberant copywriter is trying to say it's a popular exit with lots of things to do.
What they've inadvertently done (at least for me) has simply reassured me I don't want to go there because it will be exceptionally crowded. And, that's not why I love to hang in Michigan.
Part of the problem with today's news media stems from our unreasonable expectations. Because they have been anointed by somebody or some institution to provide us with accurate information, we expect that what we get from them is just that...accurate.
Except, many of these reporters went to journalism school. Not business school. Not medical school. Not engineering school. Journalism School.
Thus, they know how to write...but they don't have a clue what they are writing about.
Wilson attempts to make the case that Indiana is the best (and, thus, Hawaii the worst) because it spends only $2.3 million on tourism promotion to generate $8 billion in visitor spending. Hawaii, on the other hand, spends $75 million and generates roughly the same return.
This is beyond an apples to oranges comparison. This is kumquats to koala bears. There are literally hundreds of factors that go into developing a tourism economy. Saying that the ROI of a pitifully weak tourism budget like Indiana's is good public policy is wrong on so many levels that I frankly don't know where to begin.
Some people (like my youngest) like to skydive, bungee jump and swim with sharks in exotic locales. Others prefer safaris or expeditions into harsh environments.
But expeditions into an active warzone?
Word out of Ukraine is that some tour companies are offering armoured vehicle tours into hotspots in that country's ongoing conflict between separtists, loyalists and the Russians. $80 USD gets you a flak jacket and a two hour tour of a city virtually destroyed in the conflict. For $800, they'll take you into the action.
One of the ads for the tours: "Impress your friends with the ultimate selfie."
No word if the fee includes the tour company sending that selfie to your mobile device's address book after you're dead.
The post conference follow-up e-mails have begun...and, while we enjoy them all (really), one really caught our eye.
It was the one from Smith Travel Research, citing research from DestinationMAP that indicated that only 4% of meeting planners cite Destination Marketing Organizations as important for site selection. Only 2% responded that DMO salespeople influenced them.
Now, to be fair, the top source of information cited (past prior experience and destination reputation) was "Destination Web Sites" at 59%...which clearly are the work of DMOs. And, of course, the wording of the question could have skewed the responses.
However...this indicator of client behavior could be just another harbinger signaling that the role of DMOs is changing before our eyes.
And, after roughly $2 million in subsidization. In just 6 months.
Now, I totally get the need for commercial air to bolster a community's viability as a nextgen hub of commerce and creativity. But $2 million?
Here's a suggestion: If you've got $2 million to burn and an international airport an hour or so away...I'd invest it in some tricked out shuttles or buses (with wi-fi, drinks, snacks and lotsa room to work) for business people to access the real airport. They'll be able to get work done, enjoy the ride and skip the connection hassle.
And, for those pitching Topeka as cool destination for entrepreneurs, I'd think such a quality of life asset would be a cool offering.
Our trip to DMAI/Las Vegas this week began just as serendipitously last Sunday afternoon as we waited for our flight in the insane fail that is MSP’s newly designed Concourse G.
After hitting the head, I returned to find Terri doing the PLP against a pillar next to a table at which a familiar face was grabbing a beer before his flight.
I first met Robin Zander in the mid ‘80s (click image to enlarge) at an album release event at a major record retailer in Chicago. My radio station was the host as his band signed LPs (big CDs for you younguns) for the fans that streamed into the store.
I next hung with him (quite unexpectedly) when my event manager and I were tooling around Madison’s Capitol Square in a golf cart, overseeing the evening cleanup of the 1991 Taste of Madison. That event manager was none other than Kirk “Wheel” Dyer...the former Road Manager for one Cheap Trick (and “the voice” the opens the classic “Live at Budokan”).
And, who jumps aboard the golf cart with us for the rest of the evening? Robin Zander.
As the three of us, thrown together serendipitously in Concourse G began a conversation, Robin offered that he was in “a little rock band.” Which I absolutely loved.
I chuckled and said, “Robin...I know who you are. We met years ago in Madison. And, how’s Kurt?”
I reminded him of our shared evening on the golf cart and we laughed, remembering that silly night. He confirmed that Kurt, who has had a rough number of years medically, was doing much better...they had just talked by phone the week prior. And, that's joy to my ears.
And then, a magical thing happened. He started asking Terri and me about our business. Our industry. Our personal relationship. Every time we turned the conversation back to him, he’d flip it back to us.
Which is so what most would not expect from one of the biggest rock voices of a generation. But, that’s Robin.
And, y’know...it's pretty much true of a lot of name musicians I’ve had the pleasure of which to hang. And, after a ten year stint in rock radio, that was a fair number. Many are some of the most engaging people you will every meet. Often, much more real than the phony balonies you call your friends.
In fact, the only true asswipe I ever met during my tenure in radio? Conway Twitty. Go figure. You probably don’t even know the name. But (he thought), he was a big deal in the ‘70s.
Damn...another long post. I guess spending a week in Vegas does that to me.
For this Music Friday...there’s a couple directions we could go. We already featured one of my all time Cheap Trick faves, “Tonight it’s You.” And, there are so many more on YouTube...and a bunch of Robin's solo work, too.
For some reason, I'm veering to a Cheap Trick track that got little traction upon its release in 1990...but it's another personal fave: "Wherever Would I Be."
Over the past decade, a lot of us became focused on the number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers we could amass. Early in the Social Media movement, I remember one of my daughters chiding me for only having a couple hundred MySpace friends when she had over 800. She was so embarrassed for me.
But, Social Media “friends” are fleeting; real life is about who you really know. And, clearly, how you make them feel. You can be known by all the “important” people you want...but, if they ultimately discern you to be shallow, self-absorbed or a jerk, it means precious little.
The relationships I have cultivated over my sensationally blessed life continue to amaze me with the power of often "3-degree of separation" connections. Friends in my industry continue to hire us. Those true friends from outside my industry continue to greet me warmly when we connect in clubs, at events or around town.
Our local business magazine recently (and kindly) featured me...and my answer to the question, “What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting out in the business world?” And, in true “The Graduate” style, I responded with one word: “Relationships.”
During one of the best opening keynotes I’ve ever witnessed (and I often skip them because so many are so lame), famed graffiti artist and author Erik Wahl tossed a ball from the stage into the hands of audience member Julie Jensen, the freshly minted CEO of the Rapid City CVB. In return for catching the ball, he informed her that she was to be his “volunteer” for a “Fear Factor-esque” example...on stage.
Julie demurred. She was both new to this huge group of peers and not a big fan of being the focus of a “Fear Factor” challenge. Hey, wouldn't you?
Erik accepted that reticence gracefully and informed Julie that she could pick anyone else in the room to replace her on stage.
She said, somewhat unsure of herself, “Bill...ummm, from Madison?”
My friends sitting around me whooped, pointed and laughed. There was no getting out of this. No opportunity to look around with a feigned “who’s that?” look.
I stood...my mind racing...and began making my way toward Erik from the cheap seats waaaay in the back of the hall. Which, of course, gave my mind more than ample time to imagine what horror awaited me upon that stage.
Erik greeted me warmly, quickly suggesting that “Interpretive Dance” would be my challenge. In front of 1,000 friends and peers. Wonderful.
After a suitable build up (click image to enlarge), which incrementally increased my fear, he instructed me to open the envelope for the revelation of just what kind of dance I would be performing.
“Read it!” he said, with a smile that was beyond mischievous.
“The painting of Bono (which he had magically and magestically painted in all of 4 minutes and 10 seconds just moments before) is yours to keep! Congratulations.” I grabbed and shook his hand, in equal parts of gratitude and relief. By standing up and willing myself to take a chance to do something out of my comfort zone, I was rewarded with an amazing piece of art that will enjoy a central position in our office for as long as I take breath.
And, I was also rewarded with hundreds of handshakes, thumbs up, pats on the back and nods from my friends and associates for the next three days of the conference.
But...here’s the thing. Julie Jensen didn’t know me from Adam.
She had been “on the job” as the CEO of Rapid Cities for three days. She didn’t know a soul in the room. So, when tasked with coming up with a name in order to avoid the Fear Factor challenge, the only name that emerged in her mind was mine.
All because, earlier that morning, her predecessor (and dear friend and now former Rapid Cities CEO) Michelle Lintz had e-mailed me to be on the lookout for her successor. While Michelle hasn’t been a client since 2006, we’ve been friends for much longer.
He had a few songs in his head that he was going to play...but a lot of the night was in response to suggestions from the crowd. He clearly shifted gears when someone shouted out "Somebody's Baby," as he chuckled, clearly pleased by the rare, non-album track request.
Listen to both if you can. But, if short on time, jump to "Running." One of the beauties of that album was that some of it was recorded live on the tour bus. In this accoustic studio version, you can almost hear the highway under Jackson's guitar. We heard it the other night.
It is a show so worth seeing. He's in Minneapolis tonight, Cedar Rapids tomorrow night and Wichita on Monday before heading back east through August. Here are the tour dates.