I have a slew of friends coming in to visit this weekend – three from San Francisco, one from L.A., one from Portland, one from New York and one from Vermont.
When we coordinate these sorts of trips, there is generally a healthy debate about where we should congregate, as we’re all coming from different directions.
I was able to sell Mammoth this year based upon the United flight and our accessibility to the Bay Area.
Of course, if the accessibility is merely theoretical, then all bets are off as to future trips.
This morning (Thursday) my friend Peter called at 6:40 a.m. to tell me the flight from San Francisco had already been cancelled.
In response, Peter booked a Southwest flight from San Francisco to L.A., where he plans to hitch a car ride north.
I found the cancellation a little odd. As I drove up to town from my residence in Swall Meadows, I was greeted by bright sunshine. When I passed the airport, the wind sock was at half mast and a plow was clearing off the runway. Yes, looking in the distance to my left, I could see the Town was socked in and I knew the weather forecast wasn’t promising, but … the cancellation appeared premature.
My weather report prompted Peter to call the airline and talk to an agent. The agent first said, “No, your flight today will depart on schedule. It’s your return that’s been cancelled.” Then, “Oh, excuse me. Your flight has been cancelled due to mechanical problems.” Then, “No, your flight has been cancelled due to high winds.”
Peter then confirmed with the agent to make sure his return ticket from Mammoth to San Francisco was still good.
The agent replied, yes, the ticket is good, and something like “I notice, sir, that there is plenty of room in Economy Plus on that return flight. Would you like to upgrade for just $14? Economy Plus would afford you an extra 5” of leg room.”
Seriously. You cancel the outbound and then try to upsell the return? That’s balls.
Peter’s brother Matt was the one flying in from Portland through San Jose on Horizon. Horizon seemed to have no problem with the high winds. The flight arrived on time at 1:55 p.m. Two of the San Francisco guys were able to leave work early and make a last-minute booking on that flight.
I spoke to Mammoth Lakes Tourism Director John Urdi this morning and asked him what effect repeated cancellations have on the collective psyche. Are we at risk of alienating the Bay Area customers we are attempting to woo by souring them on the travel experience?
Urdi noted that about 30% of the United flights have been cancelled this year. Which means that the odds of a successful trip are 70%. Which means the odds of making a successful roundtrip are .7 times .7 or .49. Meaning, a traveler from San Francisco has had a less than 50% chance of making a hassle-free roundtrip to Mammoth this year.
Horizon’s cancellation rate, said Urdi, is half that of United.
“We need to get things figured out [if we’re going to push for an expansion of service],” acknowledged Urdi, who did express concern that frequent cancellations may make people a little more reluctant to book flights.
Conclusion: Building a successful business is about delivering on promises. United’s performance reflects directly upon Mammoth whether we like it or not.
This week marks the second anniversary of the passing of Andrea Mead Lawrence, and sure enough, Andrea seemingly reached beyond the grave to give me a gentle reminder.
During the last few years of her life, I made it a point to try and visit Andrea at her condo every so often. And we would sit and drink tea and talk about whatever we happened to talk about.
But there was one topic which never failed to come up. At one point during our tea, Andrea would invariably root about looking for an enormously thick folder she kept on redevelopment.
Andrea was a staunch opponent of the push for a Mammoth redevelopment agency in the late ‘90s.
She derided it as a sell-out of schools and taxpayers for the benefit of property developers. Often, the word “criminal” would pepper her language.
So it was with some bemusement that I read a March 12 editorial by Steven Greenhut in the Wall Street Journal last week which, get ready for a shock, praised Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the state’s 425 redevelopment agencies.
A shock because I don’t think the generally conservative Journal has ever praised Brown for anything.
In his article, Greenhut said “redevelopment agencies consume about 12% of all statewide property taxes – money that would otherwise go to critical public services.”
However, “because city governments have become so dependent on these agencies diverting revenue to them from the state, the pushback against the governor’s plan has been powerful.”
Greenhut concludes by chastising state Republicans. “They [Republicans] should be standing up against the abuses of property rights and fiscal irresponsibility inherent in the redevelopment process.”
I miss Andrea.
In regard to the arts, a few announcements.
The MHS Drama Dept. will debut its spring musical, the Wizard of Oz, next Wednesday.
The Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder opens Thursday. Yours truly is one of five cast members, placing my odds of being murdered at 20%.
Hopefully, that’s high enough to prove a draw.
Geisel will review the production upon threat of dismissal.
And the Mammoth Lakes Arts Center will be hosting a special premiere of the new Bear Whisperer episodes in advance of Animal Planet’s April 7 release date. The premiere may also feature a Q&A with Producer Eric Schotz. We’ll have more details next week.