Don’t Be a Douche – Stories From Lombard Street

Originally, I thought I’d write a post about the proper etiquette of traveling.  However, that term makes me feel like Dean Wormer, throwing on the wet blanket of moralistic preening while furiously finger-wagging at a list of rules that I made up, which I’m going to hashtag and Facebook-share to death until I lose all my friends and my family disowns me.  But, I do think that one needs to check themselves when visiting a new place.  A simple axiom is probably all that is needed. “Don’t be a Douche.”  I’ve been trying to work on a couple of bumper sticker-ready slogans:

  • “When you’re a guest in someone else’s home, scrape the shit off of your shoes — Don’t be a Douche”
  • “Leave no Trace – That Includes Your Segway’s Tracks — Don’t be a Douche”
  • “Wash off the Drakkar, You’re Just Made My Sister Have a Seizure — Don’t be a Douche”
  • “Your Selfie In Front of That Statue Just Stole Our Ancestors’ Souls — Don’t be a Douche”

Here’s a recent example of how if you just followed this simple axiom, a whole neighborhood wouldn’t have to petition their local government to get them to do something about you by law.  This week, the MTA in San Francisco is looking to close down Lombard Street to street traffic in the summer.  In other words, you wouldn’t be able to drive your car down “the Crookedest Street in the World.”  Why is this a problem? Living three blocks away from this iconic street, we get to enjoy the daily barrage of rental cars that line-up blocks away, sitting in line for an hour at a time, pumping exhaust more suited for the freeway than our homes, so that the wary intrepid soul can eventually spend less than 1 min making 4 lefts and 4 rights to go down Lombard Street.  They don’t even need to turn the dial down Kanye’s latest aural abomination on the radio.  “Honey look!  Can you believe how crooked this street is?  OMG!  It is soooo crooked.  SELFIE!” It creates, what the SF Chronicle describes as a “Circus Atmosphere.”

On Friday, the line didn’t extend quite as far, only reaching Larkin Street. But the scene was circus-like. Cars, pickup trucks, bikes, skateboards, Segways and those little yellow GoCars cruising down the brick road through the hairpin turns. Pedestrians crowded the stairways and some wandered onto the curves of the street. Passengers popped their heads out of sunroofs and leaned out side windows to snap photos or hoot and holler. Others blared music.

At the top and bottom of the block, clots of cars, some double-parked, joined with people taking photos to occasionally block the streets. One visitor grabbed a large rock from a nearby planter and tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to ride it down the cable car tracks on Hyde Street.

With the news that the MTA might actually put up the “Road Closed” signs, some travelers aren’t so happy with it:

“I think it would ruin, for some people, visiting San Francisco,” said Ryan Heffner, 22, of Davidson, N.C., who had just taken a ride through the curves. “It’s part of the experience.”

His father, John Heffner, 54, who handled the driving through the tight turns, said it would seem odd for the city to shut down a landmark that attracts tourists.

“It would be like closing down any of the other attractions of the city,” he said.

What the Heffners seem to be missing, is that this road isn’t a tourist attraction.  It is a street that was designed that way, so that the actual people, who actually live in the real homes on the street, could get their actual cars in and out of there without actually dying on the 22-degree slope. The residents here know that people like coming to Lombard Street to walk around and take pictures.  In fact, we think it is cool that people enjoy it.  It does look odd and the views are incredible.  But the issue we have is that people are not following the “Don’t be a Douche” axiom.  Now the city is stepping in and saying, no more. Don’t fret future San Francisco travelers.  You won’t have to apply the white-out on your Lonely Planet book and remove Lombard Street.  It doesn’t need to be driven down to enjoy it.  You can preferably find your way to Lombard Street via public transit, Lyft, Uber or cab.  Or, you can **gasp** walk there.  Here’s a local’s tip: San Francisco is the best seen on foot. You can then walk the streets.  It gives you much more time, so that you can take in and enjoy the views instead of breathing car exhaust and staring at break lights.  Also, you might get an opportunity to chat with some of the people that actually live here, instead of breezing by in your car so you can hurry over to the Rainforest Cafe on Fisherman’s Wharf.  We all gain from that scenario and are glad you came to visit.  We might even invite you to our leather bondage dungeon later that night if you’re lucky. Please, please, with sugar on top, “Don’t be a Douche.”

PathWrangler Partners with Destination Jämtland Härjedalen in Sweden to Support Tour Operators and Increase Regional Tourism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 14   For more information, contact: Doug Heinz – CEO, Pathwrangler 899 Green St. #404, San Francisco, CA 94133 doug@pathwrangler.com 415-309-2242  

Destination Jämtland Härjedalen Turism partners with leading travel software company PathWrangler to expand reach and promote local operators for their region  

San Francisco, CA (January 21, 2014) – Jämtland Härjedalen Turism, a private tourism board responsible for promoting and developing tourism in Swedens top adventure location, is announcing a new partnership with San Francisco-based software company PathWrangler today. The partnership will give PathWrangler’s travel software, which helps outdoor programs, clubs and trip planners to run better trips, mentor student leaders and grow their programs.

PathWrangler’s online app allows users to create interactive trips with all the assets they need to organize outdoor expeditions and guided tours. Through their accounts, trip leaders can create, share and host the data for traveler registrations, itineraries, packing lists and more of the many aspects of operating an expedition. An additional module, Formstack, allows operators to build the forms they need online, and host them on their unique trip page without leaving the PathWrangler app, thus eliminating the need for PDFs, emails and spreadsheets to collect traveler information.

“Organizing and marketing in the digital age is a challenge for many organizations these days and we are very pleased to partner with PathWrangler to help achieve these goals.  This digital solution will be the perfect tool for tour operators in our region to both manage and market the unique travel experiences found in our destination and we hope it helps to support and increase the margins on this side of the business”, says Karin Gydemo Grahnlöf from Jämtland Härjedalen Turism.

“Tourism Destinations are faced with an extremely difficult challenge, especially when it comes to promoting experiential tourism,” says Doug Heinz, CEO of PathWrangler,” they have to figure out a way not just promote static itineraries that give potential visitors a ‘flavor’ for the destination.  They need to capture and promote the dynamism and the uniqueness that each experience brings with it.  However, the operators that they represent are vast and have many different experiences.  JHT came to us because this has been extremely challenging for them.  Through using PathWrangler, not only can they capture the dynamism and unique qualities of all their individual tour operators, it gives JHT and overall way to brand the unique identities that make up their entire destination.”

Heinz continues, “Many issues that Destinations have in the past is to bring the big picture into meaningful action.  Often times the operators are the ones who are forgotten in this process. PathWrangler helps to link all of these elements together.  Never before was this possible on a large scale.”

This unique partnership will provide JHT and their members with an entirely cloud-based solution when organizing expeditions and outdoor activities that will be used for Familiarization Trips and ongoing promotion by the JHT.  Ultimately, this will help JHT to manage large-scale tourism initiatives while being able to empower each individual tour operator from the ground up.

About PathWrangler For more information about PathWrangler or to start planning your expedition, visit www.pathwrangler.com. Simply put, PathWrangler makes building and storing experiences easier than ever before. Let’s face it, planning an adventure trip or an outdoor excursion is like herding cats. It can be maddening to get everyone and everything prepared. We’ve built a collaborative web tool that makes trip planning not only easy, but fun. The goal is to empower you so that your only limitation is your imagination and sense of wonder. It can be used just as easily by professional guides running recurring expeditions to the Himalayas to just a handful of avid outdoor enthusiasts planning their next hiking trip in Yosemite.

About Jämtland Härjedalen Turism JHT was formed in 1995 and is the professional and business collaboration platform for the development of the region’s tourism industry.  It represents the country’s tourism industry in both nationally and internationally.  JHT is a trade association that cooperates with the county’s destinations and tourism enterprises, with representatives of the county’s tourism industry and representatives of the Regional Council of Jämtland.  For more information: www.jamtland.se –   Press contact: Karin Gydemo Grahnlöf, manager of the project organisation at JHT. Karin.g.grahnlof@jht.se +46 706053767

Turn Your Trips Into Sharable Selfies

 
If you could turn your Trips into a giant group selfie of Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper would you?  Selfies have been around much longer than this year, but the term has become ubiquitous and even grandma is getting into the game (mine just sent me a Selfie from the Prune Juice & Euchre Meetup in Arizona).
Some may see this as evidence that the Selfie has jumped the shark.  Au contraire.  The reason for its popularity is not about providing an all you can eat buffet for our narcissism.  The Selfie is a way for the taker to look at their viewers and directly engage us in joy and fellowship; it’s an invitation to share in a moment.
Tour Operators have a difficult task.  Your product is an intangible good: an experience.  Somehow you need to sell this good in the digital world.  PathWrangler turns your intangible experiences into digital goods.
Collaboration (Increase Conversion & Word of Mouth Business) – Who on earth enjoys interacting with their email inbox?  Email was fun for about 10 minutes in 1993 when my email address was 298472347824749@compuserve.com.  Now it is nuisance that we have to manage.  PathWrangler turns your customers into active participants during the sales, booking and preparation phases of the trip.  Not only is a place to collaborate and interact with you, it was way for your clients to explore and dream about their trip on their own trip.
Individualized Storytelling –  there’s no better joy than sitting around the campfire after a great trip, recanting your adventures with your fellow travellers.  PathWrangler offers map-based photo-sharing, simple-engaging story telling and social media integration.  Keep juicy details within the group or share them with the world.  Let your clients tell their stories in their own way that is unique to them.
PathWrangler captures the spirit of the Selfie for your all of your Trips.  It invites others in, inspires them and after they leave from their trips, not only gives them something personal to reflect on forever, it allows them to inspire others in their own way.  That’s your business and you’ll get more of it using us.  Even better news is that your membership with the ATTA gives you a 15% discount on PathWrangler.  Sign-up now to start growing your business with a free trial today.  Getting started is easy.  However, we do like to connect personally with you, so please contact me directly at doug@pathwrangler.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have in getting set up.

Here’s How to Learn How to Climb Mount Everest

Have you felt the desire to climb the tallest mountain in the world, but had no idea how to go about doing it?  Here’s how you can start from being a newbie to acquiring not only the fitness, but the hard and soft skills and mental toughness required to climb the tallest mountain in the world.

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1) 3-Day Rainier Climb 

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Mt Rainier in Seattle is easily accessible and provides the perfect training ground for aspiring climbers to learn new skills due to the snow and glacier covering the mountain.  Here you’ll learn how to use crampons, an ice axe and roping.  It is your introduction to altitude.  After a day of intensive skills training, you’ll spend one good hard day to get to the Summit and back down.

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2) Mexican Volcanoes

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The next step is over the course of about a week, climb between 2 – 4 Mexican Volcanoes.  These mountains are between 14 – 18k feet.  These mountains aren’t quite as technical, but not only will you get increasing exposure to altitude, by going up and down between 2 – 4 times, you’ll be able to learn what it takes to do acclimatization rotations on Everest.

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3) Aconcagua

Mt_Aconcagua_near_Mendoza_Argentina

Now you’re ready for your first major expeditionary style mountain.  Weather depending, 24 days on 23,xxx ft Aconcagua in Argentina will give your first taste of establishing camps, carrying heavy loads and making the mountain your home for an extended period of time.  This is the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas and you’ll learn not only how to survive harsh weather conditions, but also how to maintain yourself personally and mentally.

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4) Winter Course

Denali Prep March  2012-03-04 at 13-53-30

Before heading to your next mountain,  an 8 Day Course in the Spring is called for.  The focus will be on learning advanced mountaineering skills such as ascending fixed lines, camping in snow, advanced glacier travel and cramponing, as well as crevasse rescue.  Spring time in DENALI/UPPER NORTHWEST, brings between 1 – 2ft of snow per day.  You’ll learn not only how to survived, but enjoy the cold.

5) Denali

Denali

Your next step is to climb 20,500 ft of much bigger glaciers and harsher weather conditions over 21 days.  This expedition will not only improve your skills, but will make you more self-sufficient and less reliant on your guides.  There are no porters on this mountain, so you and your team are responsible for getting everything and everyone up and down the mountain.  Most importantly, you’ll learn to rely on your fellow teammates to a much greater degree than in the past.  You’ll learn how to be solid component of your team.

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FINALLY – Ready for Mt Everest

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Now you’re prepared with hard and soft skills that are essential to climb the tallest mountain in the world.  Soft skills such as proper preparation, being part of a team and having a good attitude in the face of adverse conditions.  You’ll not only be adapted to the harsh conditions of the mountains, but you’ll actually learn to enjoy and see the beauty in it all.  Unlike the false characterization in popular media, you’ll be a fully self-sufficient team member who is ready to not only stand on the highest point in the world, but get you and your team safely down.

Contact Mountains Within to start your journey to climbing Mt Everest today!

ATTA & AORE Partner PathWrangler: Better Than Kittens on the Internet for Trips

henriette-ronner-knip-traveling-around-the-globe-with-cat-and-kittens

If you could harness the power of all the cuteness of kittens on the internet and use that to power your running your trips, would you?  For Tour Operators and Outdoor Rec Programs, PathWrangler is bigger than kittens on the internet.  It is like an army of sherpas were all turned to 1s and 0s and are at your disposal (patent pending).  In ONE platform, you can plan & manage trips, sell more trips and grow your community.   We surveyed our clients, had our crack staff crunch the numbers and here’s the evidence for how PathWrangler is working for them:

Decrease operating expenses by 78%.  Do you hate managing Trip Documents?  We do too (if you said no, there are support groups for this affliction).  We replace your Word Docs, PDFs and endless email chains.  Plus, our interactive trip planning tool is a blast for everyone to use.  When people have a better way to talk to each other with less hassle, your trip magic can thrive.

-  Sell 57% more trips.  We know how much you love your websites.  We also think they’re great (most of them, anyways).  But they just sit there in the vast Internet amongst other websites vying for the attention of your students and keeping them up to date is very expensive.  Integrating with your website, your trips in PathWrangler are interactive, sharable and extend out to reach a much wider audience.  If you put the two tools together, it is like discovering internet gunpowder.

Increasing word of mouth referrals.  There are only a few subjects that people share on social media that aren’t irritating and won’t get you dirty looks from your family at the next gathering: kittens and travel stories.  We also know that your programs are heavily driven by personal referrals.  So, as your students share their trip stories and photos with their friends through your trips in PathWrangler, it also captures future students as they are inspired and brought to your virtual front door.

So, in short, PathWrangler is better than kittens on the internet for your trips.  Even better news is that your membership with the AORE gives you a 15% discount on PathWrangler.  Sign-up now to start growing your business with a free trial today (use discount code AORE1929).  Getting started is easy.  However, we do like to connect personally with you, so please contact me directly at doug@pathwrangler.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have in getting set up.