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Comfortable skiing will sell real estate

Jack Rafferty
Aspen, CO Colorado

Skiers come in two categories as far as I can tell ” the first type views skiing as a social, recreational mode of transportation that connects the on-hill restaurants. The second and certainly the minority type is the skier who experiences the sport as an active, strenuous physical activity which demands preseason attention and conditioning. For this second groups it’s a sport which requires an active command of balance and an understanding of athletic core centering to effectively pressure, steer and guide the ski into an arching radius in varying conditions on an inclined slippery surface while maintaining operational control at speed.

We skiers must stand in a balanced, relatively static stance or posture, generate borrowed gravitational energy to power up the ski, control the steering pressures necessary to counter the ground reaction forces, react with instantaneous agility to changes in terrain, maintain an awareness of our surroundings, avoid collisions with trees and other stationary objects and do all this while buckled into a hard plastic shell which may not fit the foot!

The resort industry currently is undergoing a renaissance, not that selling real estate is anything new, but the allure of selling big-dollar fractional ownership has significantly changed the skier demographic. Remember when ski shops were inhabited by the lowly local ski bums? If you were fitted for rental equipment, chances were good that the rental jockey also was a local skier of some talent. We insisted, much to the dismay of our customer base, that a ski boot had to fit before you were able to learn anything from your instructor. “Boot school before ski school.” It set the tone for success and progress up the learning curve. Until someone showed you the light, with a boot that fit, you had no idea what you had been missing in all of your previous ski adventures.



If I were in the business of dealing real estate, I would think it would be imperative to ensure a positive first resort/ski experience. How can you sell condos at a ski resort to the new skier demographic/real estate prospect if your clients aren’t even convinced they are having a good time? Especially if the pain and frustration of poorly fit ski boots constantly nags at the back of the mind whispering, “Go to the Bahamas, go to the Bahamas,” or pleading silently for someone to guide them in the finer points of rocketing down the slopes.

Ah yes, the life of the ski instructor, the illusion sells the concept ” spending big bucks to perpetuate the myth that skiing is a constantly changing series of complex body movements whose secrets only are held by a select few. I can only wonder what mysteries are so elusive that you must become a specially certified ruby-level instructor, before you are permitted to divulge such wisdom. Skiing is, after all, only a series of linked left and right turns, not high stakes physics.




So why is it, that in a year when our snow conditions are unprecedented, the ski industry is suffering a decline in skier numbers? Doesn’t that contradict the illusion and complicate the equation of formulating a marketing plan to sell real estate to affluent skiers? It must be our turbulent, enthralling political election cycle!

Through no fault of their own, the importation of seasonal workers, to staff up the rental shops, has degraded the perceived expertise of the local ski bum. Instead of experienced skiers fitting the introductory freshman class, we now have an inexperienced, seasonal visa workforce and snowboarders fitting the most vulnerable entry-level rental skiers, improperly. What is the attrition rate of this group, being so vital to the growth of the ski industry? Too-big boots and expensive ski lessons are a waste of time and money, regardless of the upper-echelon, cubic zirconium class of instructor you hire!

If you invest in a properly fitted ski boot and invest some quality time with an experienced bootfitter, you might be surprised at the positive quality of this initial learning experience. You may learn things held sacred and secret and sometimes elusive, even to those who are entrusted to know. The investment you apply to your boots represents the least expense with the greatest potential return.

Why? Because eight out of 10 vacationing skiers are in boots that are too big, and six out of 10 have had poor experiences with their rental equipment. This is an industry-wide phenomenon/epidemic. Real estate sales predicated on skiing in a world-class winter resort, with loses of entry-level skiers because of painfully miserable first experiences, poor fitting equipment and paying handsomely for the privilege. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Here is a challenge to the upper-level PSIA trainers, the Skico management, corporate executives, marketers and realtors of the Aspen-Snowmass area. Go to any local rental shop and rent boots that are one, two or three sizes too big, same as our guests, with no orthotics, no custom fitting options, no techie canting voodoo, grab a standard rental ski and give it a try. I did, just to see why our guests have little, if any, experiential knowledge to base the fit of their boots on, other than comfort. Get back to me with the results, if you are up to the challenge.

When you come to realize the significance of this hypothesis, you might want to follow up with some investigative research and solutions. Question: Who other than the best qualified bootfitter and your banker holds the key to successfully close a real estate transaction? Can you say “commission check”?