As a ski journalist I get invited to many, many events to hear people promoting their products. Occasionally it is interesting, most times rather dull and every now and again slightly surreal.
Hearing the head of a small taxi firm from one of the large French resorts extolling the virtues of his company was one of the latter moments. He told us about the exclusive nature of his business, the reliability of his cars and the skill of his drivers. He stopped short of telling us how comfy the seats were, but only just.
We had been standing up for over an hour in a private function room of an hotel in Central London as representatives from one of the most famous resorts in the French Alps ran through their "new" offerings for the winter.
Essentially there were a couple of new lifts on the nursery slopes, a few hotels had been renovated and there were some rather vague, but apparently ambitious, plans for the future. That was about it really.
But it took the combined weight of the head of the tourist office and his deputy, two representatives from the ESF, the marketing manager of another ski school, several hoteliers, someone from the lift company, numerous other dignitaries and their assistants, plus of course the head of the local taxi firm.
All had come over from France for the event. Someone clearly had money to burn.
Personally all I wanted was a story or something that would be of interest to the readers of PlanetSKI. Neither was forthcoming and though I did find a short story to write it certainly didn't require the expense and effort that had been undertaken. An email would have sufficed.
Most of the other journalists present didn't write a thing.
A few days earlier I had been at an event that a ski organisation had told us would be a significant announcement. It was billed as the most exciting event in the organisation's history. The only concrete development I could work out was a different coloured jacket for its representatives and a new logo.
It made me think about PR.
Now don't get me wrong as I understand the need for PR, product launches and getting your name out there but it just struck me as a staggering waste of money and resources. Ultimately once the bills work their way through the system it is paid for by the ordinary skiers and snowboarders. You.
Someone eventually has to pay the bill for this and it will be in your tourist taxes, lift pass, membership fees, holiday price and the like.
A ski resort needs to tell skiers and snowboarders about its attractions to promote the snowsports holiday in general and their resort in particular.
There are hundreds and hundreds of ski resorts in each alpine country and yet most of us can only name a handful. They are probably the ones that spend money on advertising, marketing and promotion.
Us journalists are at fault too as we trot out some rather uninteresting stories and fall for basic hype and spin.
Personally I am keeping my own record of the most stupid questions asked at the news conferences.
Here's a few:
"At what age do children start skiing in you resort?"
"Will there be good snow this winter?"
"Do you have long lift queues?"
The autumn ski shows are upon us and there are many events and launches. There will be new developments, interesting new products and plenty to write about.
Some will have genuinely interesting things to unveil and say that people want to hear about.
I look forward to going to one that works well and when I do I will write all about it.
We have all heard of the saying "If it ain't broke don't fix it."
I would like to add my own one.
"If you ain't got anything to say keep quiet."
But if I am ever stuck for a taxi ride I do know which company has the most reliable cars and skilful drivers.
I just wonder how comfy the seats will be.
Bookmark this page
The Skoki Lodge in Canada is a 4-hour hike from Lake Louise. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge flew in by helicopter in the summer of 2011. We tried last week on skis. Bad weather forced us back first time but we gave it a second go.
The Skoki Lodge in Aberta is one of the more remote locations in the Canadian Rockies. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge escaped there after their wedding. In the winter it is open for ski tourers. PlanetSKI attempted the 5-hour journey on skis.
We have just arrived in the Banff-Lake Louise ski area. An area we have not visited before. We will be skiing the back bowls, cross-country skiing, ice walking and a few other surprises. We are also following in Royal footsteps and staying at Skoki Lodge. Just a shame about jet lag.
A new linked ski area has been created in the Austrian Tirol as Alpbach links up with the resorts in the Wildschonau. It has taken 11 years of heated debate as change happens rather slowly in this part of Austria.
I have my own skis and boots that I rather like. It was therefore with some trepidation that I decided to rent.
It seems hard to think of a better one with several large falls, record amounts of snow in places and all areas of the Alps now under snow. PlanetSKI has visited Italy, Austria, France and Switzerland. So is it the best? Maybe, but how do you define best?