Friday, September 14, 2012

#RSQ12: Gondolas and airplanes

Mountain VillageOne of the joys of the Telluride and Mountain Village communities is the free gondola that connects them.  Rather than driving from the hotel (Mountain Lodge) to the convention center or to Telluride proper,  we took the gondola.  The gondola is fast and efficient!  It is also a challenge for those of us with a fear of heights, like me.  I've been on a gondola before at Masada and liked it, so I was looking forward to the gondola in Telluride.  What I didn't expect was that the gondola would go over a particularly high  mountain and an area called St. Sophia.  The St. Sophia gondola station is at 10,500 feet above sea level.  Going from St.Sophia down into Telluride (8,700 feet above sea level) provides a beautiful view, in the daytime, at night, and even when it is foggy!  I must admit that the first five seconds descending from St. Sophia provide an OMG moment for me and I had to close my eyes, but after two times, it all seemed normal. (BTW in contrast, Syracuse, NY is at 380 feet above sea level.)
View of Telluride from the gondola

Part of R-Squared was about getting outside of your comfort zone.  For some, that meant petting worms and snakes.  For others, it was the 19 seat aircraft from Denver to Telluride (and what a gorgeous view of the world!).  And for some, it was asking strangers on the street about their skills and passions.  I feel as if you didn't get outside your comfort zone during this conference, that you missed an opportunity to do it in a safe and supportive environment.

Getting to Telluride meant a long flight for me, with three segments each way.  Going and coming were both "adventures."  (I suffered a slight delay on my flight to Telluride, but had an overnight delay on my return to Syracuse.)  If this has not been such a phenomenal conference, I would be gripping more about the travel than I am.  It is a testament to the conference organizers and their vision that ~350 people figured out how to get to Telluride and were willing to put up with the conference hassles. 

It would be interesting if airlines used creativity exercises to re-think what they do and their customer interactions.  What if they - and the airline industry - created a new vision of what their services are and how they delivered them?  What if they put aside their assumptions? I could only hope that it would improve our flight experiences.

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