Every year for sixteen years, a group of avid snow skiers makes an annual trip together. This is their big annual bash. It’s important to them. It is a time for having fun together. It’s a time for strengthening long-standing friendships.

Each year one of the members assumes the role of trip planner and logistics coordinator. The planning effort begins sometime early September for the January trip.

Where to go? Where to stay? Do they need a large house or a condo? Other cost considerations include airfare, rental car, and lift tickets. What is the travel time? Is a grocery and adult beverage store nearby?

Are you starting to think “customer touch points?” If you’re not quite sure what I mean by that, check out this blog post. It explains it really well.

Photo of a signpost pointing to U.S. I-70

Anyway, January comes and the group heads to Colorado. Their lodging is in a town on I-70 that provides excellent flexibility to choose daily from over a half dozen resorts to ski. After months of planning and many hours of travel, they finally arrive there late in the evening. Excited, but weary, they unpack and crawl into bed. They want to hit the slopes early the next morning.

Morning arrives, and the group heads to a resort very close to their lodging. They want to make the most of every minute.

Finally, there they are on the slopes. After months of planning and anticipating, they are finally skiing and having a blast … until a series of bad experiences begins.

Anyone who ski’s knows that skiing carries with it the potential for injury. But, like driving a car, there are rules of the road. If obeyed, skiing can be a safe venture. However, two of the skiers were run over by skiers with excessive speed straight-lining down the slope. One of them experienced a significant muscle pull as the result.

Two days later the same group returns to the same resort. During this visit, a different member of the group is blindsided from the rear. This collision results in ACL/MCL knee surgery. Then, another member is involved in another collision that results in rotator cuff surgery.

Talking with each other, they begin wondering if is this a dangerous resort to ski/snowboard? Does the resort know about these events? What are they doing about them? What are they doing to prevent them? More touch points.

Photo of me and my significant other on the slopes in Colorado

Two months later, I returned to this resort with my significant other. We decide to rent a demo ski package to test a variety of skis to help us make up our minds about a potential purchase. Major touch point! For us, this is a moment of truth. Hello ski resort! Are you paying attention?

We expected to rent the demo package skis for three days and maybe a fourth. They charged my card up front according to their prepayment policy. They charged it for four days. Touch point.

After three days, we decide to return the skis. While returning them, I am advised the only way to receive credit for the fourth day charge is in the form of a store or resort credit to be used during a future visit. For me, that means the following year. I think to myself, that’s an interesting strategy to get me to come back the next year. Neither the attendant nor the manager is able to issue a credit; they do not have the authority. More touch points.

The following week, after sending a lengthy email and leaving two voice mails for the Customer Service Manager, I received a one-line email advising that a credit has been issued. Another touch point.

By this time, I had placed a call and discussed the collisions and resulting injuries with the Manager of the Ski and Safety Patrol. External touch point.

If you were the owner of this resort, what would you do to change this customer’s experience? Would you do the same or what would you change? Why?

Do you think my conversation with the ski patrol was captured and logged with some sort of CRM technology?

What about my interactions with customer service? Do you think they capture and log their interactions in a CRM system? If so, how effective is it? Do you think they recognize that their customer was demoing skis for a potential new ski purchase? What should they do to encourage a return ski experience?

To share your feedback, suggestions, and customer experiences, join the discussion in the Ski Industry Marketing and Sales Travel Professionals group on LinkedIn. I invite you to share your thoughts and stories with the group. See you online … or on the slopes!