January 22, 2011
Just got back from the 85th Annual Dude Ranch Association Convention at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch. Lots of great comments. We really are respected by Colleen, Russell True and the board, and many ranch owners came up to me and thanked us for putting out such a great magazine that their guests rave about and one guy from Canada said he especially appreciates us paying for the shipping "all the way over the mountain."
One ranch owner said he loved our census feature (Gus Walker map) where we tracked 1870 populations and then showed the 1880 census and the current census numbers. He said he would love to have that as a big map to hang in his lodge. Store item?
One rancher told about a new program where if someone comes to your website, or sends you an email, the next time they go to Huffington Post or one of the major sites, your ad shows up on the header and the person thinks, "Man, these guys are big!" The rancher said it costs about $500 a month, but he said it's "the best thing I've done all year."
Some other gems: the fastest growing demo for them is women over 55. Think about it. The kids are gone (at least the first wave) and they want to travel. In fact, the largest demo for booking dude ranches is females, age 45-54. This also dove tails into the theory that women make 75% of all purchases. And, if you need more data, of all the people who took their online survey, 73% were female.
One of the Dude Ranch Association's branding lines is the four Hs: horses, hats, history and hospitality. This applies to oursleves as well, no?
One of the problems online is "cyberdust," which is data collecting faster than it can be analyzed. This creates marketing opportunities when a brand, say True West, is valued because we sift the cyberdust and give you the gold. We've said this before—we're the source—but it bears repeating and seeing it in a new context.
In a related note, one of the speakers said the current challenge is to link "answer seekers" with "problem solvers."
On the way down to Tucson we took a detour at Ina Road and drove over to Oracle to see the Safeway. The entire shopping center was bustling with normal activity and was much more developed than I remember (I used to live in Tucson in the 60s and 70s). The Safeway is tucked back off the corner and there are several clusters of outlet-retail stores along the road, shielding the Safeway. Somehow I pictured it being more exposed and open, but it's a very confining space where the shooting took place. Customers were coming in and out of the Safeway, but to the left of the front door is a shrine and a knot of people were taking photos and leaving items. it was a small area, or, at least smaller than i thought it would be, but then, I seem to feel that way about every historic site I visit (Ford Theatre, the house they took Lincoln to. Perhaps the only site that seems much larger than I envisioned is the Custer battlefield). Given the horror of the events that took place on this spot it seemed rather normal and I guess that is a good thing, although, it also had a kind of, "Wait a minute, this is hallowed ground, be more respectful" flow to it. All in all, quite surreal and disturbing and yet, somehow comforting to me to see. I'm always drawn to these sites and I'm half embarrassed to say so, out of fear of sounding macabre or creepy, but it seems to be part of the historical bent in those of us who seek historical truth.
Kathy and I had lunch with Wayne and Marilyn Rutschman on Friday (at Molina's Midway, Wayne bought) and they know one of the men who tackled the shooter, while I had to admit that I was once a character witness in Judge Roll's federal court. Small town indeed.
"The future ain't what it used to be."
—Old Vaquero Saying