Alexa Is Raising My Daughter

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For a couple of years now, I’ve been interested in the sea changes new generations launch upon society.  As the father of an eleven-year-old GenZ daughter, I was curious to understand her generation’s promise, and how they would view and interact with the world in a unique way.  

(Understanding generational differences is a big rabbit hole, and one I hope to write more about in the coming months.) 

This morning, I got hit smack in the face with one obvious GenZ distinction.

It's picture day at school, which is a big deal for an eleven-year-old.  She wanted to get up a little early to have time to tend to her hair and outfit properly.  Ten minutes before her alarm was set to go off, I took a seat on the side of her bed and started to gently ease her awake (my favorite time of the day).  We talked for a few minutes, and the conversation drifted to her new favorite music.  She rolled towards her nightstand, where an Amazon Echo was resting, and said:  

Alexa - Play my playlist

Lola by the Kinks came on, and we reminisced about how I used to hum that song to her as a baby.  One of those tender moments every parent cherishes.  Moments later, her alarm started going off. 

Alexa - Stop

Alexa - What time is it?

It's 6:45 AM. It’s currently 63°.  The high in Park City today is 74°.  Have a good morning.

Alexa was so affable with my half-awake 11-year-old and I didn’t want to spoil the moment.  However, I knew damn well it wasn't 63 degrees outside, and I was frankly offended by Alexa’s false optimism.  I turned to my daughter and said: “Sorry, but she's wrong about the weather.”  

I know dad, but don’t make her feel bad.  She’s doing her best.

It's a mistake to think that Generation Z, currently aged 10-24, is a simple extension of Millenials.  I frequently hear people ascribe millennial tendencies to a generation that has far more in common with GenX than their immediate predecessors.  GenZ kids have grown up in a very different world, with very different influences than Millennials.  Lumping them into a larger homogenous pool of young people who seem good at technology misses key distinctions that are poised to shape culture and the world we live in.

In this small example, there’s one demonstration of a clear distinction.  Millennials are known for considering their phone an appendage more critical and useful than their own foot.  For GenZ, their experience with information technology is far more tactile, far more integrated into their lives and surroundings.   Instead of being considered magic, instant access to a world of information is standard and, more importantly, expected.  While GenZ still have smartphones in record numbers, they are just as comfortable interacting with the digital world with their voice, or their watch, or even their refrigerator.  The digital world is no longer novel, it's just there.  And while it is cute that my daughter defended Alexa for fear I would hold her disinformation against her, the personalization of the technology, and the opportunity to mine that information for smarter, more effective AI, is right on the horizon.

For now, I think it's interesting for marketers to ponder the fact that a new generation is coming of age.  With them come new behaviors and trends that we have to react to in order to be effective communicators.  We need to be particularly focused on how we stay relevant through new channels like voice search and ensure that the message we are delivering through those channels is contextually appropriate.  Most of all, we have to make sure our young GenZ kids don't miss the bus on picture day because we are too busy writing blogs.

Finding Comfort in Travel

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Over the previous few weeks, I read with interest the account of industry veterans who were venturing back out on the road again.  I was nervous about an approaching trip that included a long flight and a week in another part of the country.  As I sit in the Asheville, NC airport returning home, I thought I would add a couple of my own thoughts and perspective.

My trip to Asheville included a brief layover in ATL.  I was in the Asheville area, staying in an AirB&B and the Hotel Arras, for close to a week for both work and play, returning through the same route I came.  

1. Airline travel is more civilized than I ever remember

Checking in through Salt Lake City was a breeze.  It's clear that travelers and airport employees alike have internalized the mask mantra and have adopted personal protection as a necessary appendage.  Lines were sparse through security and boarding flights.  Overhead bins seemed more spacious due to the overall lack of use, and on every flight, I had a row to myself.  I noticed little idiosyncrasies that didn’t exist pre-COVID.  For whatever reason, you could not buy a paperback book in the ATL airport.  Observing 6 feet of separation made even small lines seem long, but also very quick to disperse.  Flight attendants were less attentive by design and in-flight services suffered a little bit as a result.  Ultimately, though I found the flying experience far easier, and far more civilized, than any time this century.  I felt safe and well attended to.

2. Hotels with modern amenities have an inherent advantage

I had the pleasure of staying at the brand new Hotel Arras in downtown Asheville.  The hotel itself was well imagined; the public space just seemed to work.  As we all know, that is no accident, and bravo to those responsible for its creation.  

While valet and front desk team members were obviously instructed to avoid significant contact with guest belongings, they were still there to route us where we needed to go and whisk us through check-in.  Once inside, it was clear that technology and design elements they procured pre-COVID provided a distinct advantage.  The elevators deployed touchless routing, with tasteful signs alerted guests that there was a two-person limit per elevator.  The bar and restaurant area had very comfortable seating areas carved out of large floor space, providing ample social distancing without making the space look sparse.  The rooms themselves had elevated ceilings, making the entire space feel more airy, aloof and most of all, safe.  I think hotels without these built-in amenities could comfort travelers, but it will take more deliberate programming, training and communication.    

3. Reactions to COVID don’t overwhelm personal safety

I traveled east from Park City, UT, a town often described as a liberal bastion in the heart of a red state. At home, masks are worn inside and out, groceries get sanitizer baths before reaching cupboards and indoor socializing/gatherings don’t exist.  I found a familiarity with the experience in Asheville, but as I traveled outside of the city, precautions waned and distrust of the regulations grew.  However, I was never ostracized in any way for wearing a mask or keeping distance.  Everywhere I went, businesses and individuals had adopted enough caution to make me feel safe and in control of my health.  I encountered lots of people with varying views on how best to live life in the midst of COVID but found the conversations and reactions to lack severe judgment.  Instead, I found businesses and attractions have been extremely thoughtful about how best to operate safely while offering their customers rewarding experiences.  If this is the experience; the expectations we as an industry can convey to our customers, we are not far from seeing our guests venture out again.

Ultimately, I am happy I made the trip.  Ask me again in two weeks, but for now, I have felt safe and socially comfortable.  I saw the incredible work of the people in our industry who aren’t furloughed or collecting unemployment but are instead making the gears of travel turn.  Every day I think about the bleak times we are in right now, but this trip reminded me that they are out there doing their jobs and providing a welcoming, mask covered smile to weary travelers like me.  GCommerce, as a hospitality digital media agency, is here to tell your stories and welcome your guests.  Right now, there is a story to be told of a brighter future around the bend.

Snowboard On Your Lunch Breaks

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The employees at GCommerce are passionate about having a quality work-life balance for all. Park City is an incredible place to live and we take full advantage of the opportunities that are afforded here. Previously, GCommerce brought to you a guide to a lunchtime snowboard route down the Park City side of Park City Mountain Resort. Now that we are in our new offices in Kimball Junction, along with the fact that Utah has had deep snowpack so far this winter - we wanted to provide an updated version for people who might be looking for a snowboard route on the Canyons side.

Our previous route was over 3,300 vertical feet through 7 runs from the top of Jupiter Peak back to the base of the Park City Village. This trip allowed you to make it back to the office in just about an hour. The Canyons route is slightly longer, about 90 minutes, but it is also more intense, as it includes over 4,000 vertical feet through 10 runs from the top of Murdock Peak back to the base of the Canyons Village.

To start, be sure all of your ski stuff is ready and can be organized as soon as your lunch break starts so that you can take full advantage of your time on the hill. Next, use the MyStop App to track the #10 Bus – White Electric Express. This bus comes about every 10 minutes to the Kimball Junction Transit Center. It’s about a 4-minute walk from our office to the Transit Center and then 6 minutes from the Transit Center on the bus to the base of the Canyons. Use the 6 minutes on the way to the Canyons for putting on your gear and any other final preparations you might need.

Once you arrive at the Canyons, walk to the Cabriolet, it’s about a 6-minute ride up to the village. Next, walk to the Orange Bubble and take the chair 6 minutes up to Lookout Ridge. After 3 walks, a bus and 2 lifts, you’re finally ready to start riding! Head back down underneath of the Orange Bubble lift and take a hard skier’s left down Upper Lookout Ridge. Keep your eyes open for Arrowhead, another skier’s left, which will drop down to Flume and finally take you to the Super Condor lift. Unstrap your back foot and hop the 8-minute chair to the top. From here, don’t even bother binding in; just skate down towards Boa and you should see the hiking trail heading up Renny’s Ridge towards the top of Murdock Peak. This is when the fun starts! 

Take off your board and make the quick 15-minute hike to the top of Renny’s Ridge. If you are in a real hurry, you can shave off about 5-10 minutes of the trip if you head straight down from Renny’s. Otherwise, admire the views and be thankful for a few minutes of flat hiking before you take the next steep 5-minute trek up to the top of Murdock Peak. Once at the top, ride off the Northeast face of the peak, down the ridge; you should cross through an avalanche gate just as the ridge becomes narrow. From here, ride the flat ridge until you run out of momentum. You will be greeted by another quick, 5-minute hike up to the high point on the north ridge. Admire this final view before riding all the way back to the base.

As long as you ride anywhere off the east side of Murdock, you will end up back on Boa. My personal preference is to quickly cross Boa, drop down through the trees and into Canis Lupis, a natural halfpipe that runs the length of Upper Boa. 

After leaving Canis Lupis, ride Lower Boa back to Super Condor. Ride straight past the lift onto Willow Draw, down towards the base. Use the rope tow to get some extra momentum before coming back to the Orange Bubble. Once there, ride right around the lift line and back down the left towards the Waldorf Astoria access – this will help save a few minutes rather than taking the Cabriolet back to the parking lot. As you approach the Waldorf Astoria, keep an eye out for tracks running to skier’s right, this will take you on the south side of the condos there and right near the round-about at the base of the Cabriolet, a 4-minute walk back to the bus stop.

As the Electric Express comes about every 10 minutes, there should be one within a few minutes of getting back to the stop. Use the 6-minute ride back to Kimball to get ready to get back to work. Walk the 4 minutes back to the office and enjoy the rest of your afternoon with the satisfaction of over 4,000 vertical feet included in your day.

If you are interested in having lunchtime snowboard routes included in your workday, contact GCommerce Solutions today about digital marketing careers in Park City!

Prospector -> Jupiter Peak - Work to Snowboard Lunchtime Powder

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As many people are probably aware, GCommerce has moved offices! We are still in Park City, but we are now located in the heart of Kimball Junction. The entire team is excited to have some additional space in a better working environment. Despite the fact that we’re on pace for the worst winter on record, GCom employees are still trying to make the most of the snow and some got out during a storm in late January.

As we move out of the Prospector neighborhood, we wanted to leave behind a handy guide for catching one of the better powder runs at Park City Mountain Resort in just enough time during your lunch break. Preparation, luck and a sense of urgency are needed to pull off this feat. But, if you’re able to do it, you’ll be rewarded with over 3,300’ of vertical through the course of 7 runs on world-class terrain. Better yet, you should be able to pull off the entire thing during your regularly scheduled, 1-hour lunch break J – Huge thanks to Parkite legend Alex Foley for the inspiration on this route.

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To start off, be sure all of your ski stuff is ready to go and can be easily assembled once your lunch break starts. You’ll want to be as efficient with your time as possible in order to make the most of your break. Use the MyStop App to track the location of the bus. This will allow you to leave at the exact moment that the bus is coming down your street. Once on the bus, you’ve got approximately 10 minutes to get your boots and all your gear ready before you’re dropped at the base of the resort.

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From the base of the resort, walk over the Crecent lift (2 min). Take Crecent up to the top of Treasure Mountain (7 min) and ride the cattrack (Homerun à Shortline) to the base of McConkey’s lift, should take about 3 minutes. After riding the lift up to the top of McConkeys (4 min) make the short but rewarding hike to the top of Jupiter Peak (12 min). Unless you’re one of the first there that day, we’d recommend hiking all the way to the true peak. This will ensure you get better turns towards the top and it also maximizes your ride down.

Now that you’re at the top of the peak, take a quick moment to enjoy the view before dropping over 3,300 vertical feet back to the base:

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Be sure to drop off the east side of the peak, going north over Pioneer Ridge you’ll end up in Thaynes Canyon and you’ll need to take another lift back over. Anything off the west side is going to take you into National Forest land and away from the resort. We’d recommend hitting The Chutes down into Puma Bowl and coming out on the Sampson run. From there, pick up Comstock and take that to Woodside. Flat Iron will cut you back over towards the

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base of Bonanza; cross Jonesy’s and pickup Homerun to cut from Bonanza back towards Payday. Take the shortcut down Treasure Hollow before picking up Homerun again. Ride this past the Payday lift, but not quite to First Time, stopping at the entrance to the ice rink at the back of the Pig Pen Saloon.

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This is where the luck of the bus schedule comes into play. Route 1 drops off from Prospector every 20 minutes but leaves towards Prospector exactly 16 minutes later. That means it will pick you up exactly 56 minutes after if drops you off, which gives you just enough time to clip out of your board and make it back over to the bus stop before the Route 1 takes off. The 8 minute bus ride back to Prospector will allow you to change back into work clothes and think

up a reason why you’re 1 minute late coming back from your hour-long lunch. If everything goes as planned, this entire trip should be almost exactly an hour with time on over 7 runs, 2 lifts and over 3,300’ of vertical terrain.

GCommerce is passionate about having a quality work-life balance for all of our employees. Park City is an incredible place to live and we take full advantage of the opportunities that are afforded here.

Now that GCom is at our new offices, the employees will need to figure out new routes from Kimball Junction to the best runs on the Canyons Village side of Park City Mountain Resort. Stay tuned to see the best lunchtime routes from Kimball Junction!

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