Comparing Skiing in Europe With That of America

When it comes to enjoying their favorite sport, skiers and golfers have quite a lot in common. Each loves to go to that spot that for them feels kind of special, but also makes them feel comfortable. With skiers, though, when looking for a place to ski if you live in the United States it might seem much too costly to ski in Europe. Obviously there will be some additional cost with travel, but once you get there costs will not be that much higher in Europe. Plus there are about five times as many ski areas in Europe, about 4000, then there are in North America.

There will be quite a few differences, such as in the texture of the snow. In Europe the snow will be more like that found in New England; not as light and fluffy as you’ll find in western North America. Plus ski slopes will typically be longer. Ski areas there will cooperate and interlink their runs together, sharing a complex of ski runs among as many as half a dozen resorts in one case.

In Europe businesses surrounding the ski areas that deal with rentals, restaurants and hotels will typically be family-owned establishments that have been around for many years, sometimes generations. These family-owned restaurants will serve local food and cook using traditional recipes. Only if you go to the large hotels will you see the style of restaurants that Americans have come to be familiar with.

The ski runs in the Alps will typically be much longer than in North America. Of the 50 longest ski descents in the world, virtually all of them are in the Alps. One in France runs down 15 miles with a 9200 foot vertical drop. Quite a lot of investment has gone into ski lifts in Europe in recent years, and as a result you will find many of the lifts much more comfortable, as well as fast.

When most of us think of skiing in Europe we naturally think of the Alps. But you can find some great skiing and often at bargain prices at other locations throughout Europe. For instance Andorra, located between Spain and France has a very nice resort. Bulgaria is quickly gaining the reputation as a place with great snow and bargain prices. And even Scotland not too far north of Edinburgh has skiing, although not to the degree that you would build an entire ski trip around. But Edinburgh is always fun to go to, so a diversion with some skiing could be something to consider.

If you watch the winter Olympics you will see that alpine skiing is a huge part of the European heritage, as countries in the Alps always compete well. For the skier that will not only want to go for some excellent skiing but for a romantic getaway, Europe is a great place to go.

Exporting to Europe: Not the Challenges You Think

If you plan to do sell your product or service in Europe the problems you encounter may not be the ones you expect. It’s easy to focus on perceived difficulties, such as the so-called ‘language barrier’, while not noticing the real pitfalls – until it’s too late. I learned three lessons the hard way: appreciate the different cultures, understand the value of quality vs. speed, and know which foreign language is key to your business.

If you hope to compete with local firms in Europe you must understand European business cultures. Notice the use of the word of the word ‘cultures’ – plural. When I first started doing business in Europe, three years ago, one of the first things I learned was that the European business environment is much more diverse than in the States. Despite the introduction of the single currency, Europe is not a single business entity. Different countries retain different ways of doing things. Like many Americans doing business in Europe for the first time, I learned this the hard way. After a number of awkward meetings and deals that mysteriously didn’t go through I began to understand that it was a bad idea to deal with Europeans like I dealt with people back home.

The American business model prevails in northern Europe – with the UK and possibly Germany representing the nearest thing Europe has to a US-style approach. Businesses in former Easter Bloc countries that have recently joined the EU are also very US-friendly. During the Soviet years America represented freedom; American business can now reap the rewards of that iconic status.

The rest of ‘old Europe’ is a little different and you should be aware of each country’s customs. Italy, for example, retains a way of doing business that might seem bureaucratic and patriarchal to Americans. Even Silvio Berlusconi – a good friend of US business – is known as ‘Papa’ Berlusconi in some Italian circles. In France, a history of civil libertarianism twinned with state control that stretches back to the revolution of 1789 has nurtured a business culture that favors consensus rather than individual leadership. It’s important to do your research – not only on a country’s business structures but also on its general culture and history. It’s even more important to get to know the people. If you travel to Madrid to cut a deal having never before set foot in Spain you are at a disadvantage.

Business people in old Europe have slightly different perceptions of what constitutes good practice from their US counterparts. Although it would be patronizing to say that a maƱana culture persists in southern European business, it is true that timeliness is not considered a virtue in the way it is in the States. For European business people, providing a quality product or service is much more important than adhering slavishly to deadlines or driving the hardest possible bargain. Because of this difference in values, Europeans often perceive Americans as being ‘pushy’ – when the Americans in question think they’re simply being businesslike.

When I first came to Europe I thought that the most important thing was to learn languages – I was wrong. Most European business people accept English as the lingua franca of international business. However, you don’t want to risk seeming ignorant. A reasonable level of conversational French or German, for example, will come in useful. I have found that many Europeans have a prejudice about perceived American ignorance of the outside world. Showing a little linguistic skill – and, more important, willingness – will be to your advantage.

My experience is that knowing the local language is particularly useful in France. The French have traditionally been very protective of their mother tongue. Today, many native speakers consider French to be in a state of crisis, attacked on all sides by international English – so your French hosts will warm to you quickly if you seem keen to speak it to them. Again, showing you are willing to try is more important than being fluent.

Even so, skills learned in language classes back home are useless unless basic cultural differences are understood. Once again, do your research: time talking to locals or reading about European culture and history will be well spent. Knowing a little history is especially important if you’re working in Greece or any of the nearby EU satellite states in the Balkans. Educated people there will often talk about events of a millennium past as if they happened yesterday. There is a perception all over Europe that Americans follow Henry Ford’s maxim ‘history is bunk’ – I made friends quickly when I disproved this prejudice.

The good news is that Europeans are more like us than they are different: the general cultures of both continents respects business and promotes honest dealing – but it’s important not to let the small differences cost you money.

Video Production FAQS For Business and Industry and the Internet

Video production is an effective tool for producing more sales, training employees, and telling the world about products and services. Video presentations can be shown to large groups and be viewed privately by one person. Television is the number one source of information for most people in North American and Europe. Business and Industry has been using industrial films and videos for years. As production costs have dropped, video production has become even more widely used for small businesses. Small businesses can use video to improve their bottom line, but before launching a video production, a little knowledge will help in the overall process and help achieve an effective and useful video presentation.

Here are some frequently asked questions concerning business/industrial video production. Good luck on your video project.

Q. Can we use people from our own company in the video to save talent fees?

A. Talent fees are the key words, here. Generally professional actors are used for voice over and on-screen word. They do a great job. They learn their parts. They can cope with script changes and the many re-takes of scenes. Best of all, however, is that they come across well on the TV screen. In short they have talent. If you need to trim your budget, there are better ways. A good production company can work within most budgets without sacrificing the effectiveness of a production. Using non-professional talent is a risk.

Q. Can’t we have our people in the video at all?

A. Sure. Company people are excellent in video presentations. They are great to have interacting with each other and with clients. Company people can be videotaped for voice over commentary and short sound bites.

Q. Our head salesperson is used to giving presentations on our product all the time. He’s a natural. He’s friendly and people really like him and identify with him. Plus, he knows the product backwards and forwards. Shouldn’t he be the one talking about our product on our video?

A. Sometimes company people can do a good job, especially experts like yours, and we’ve used them in our video productions. One word of caution, however. We’ve seen video productions get shelved soon after they were produced because the spokesperson on the video decided to quit and go to work for the competition. You can’t have your spokesperson (especially, if they’re well-known) saying good things about your product if they are no longer part of your organization. The appearance is that they found a better product or a better company to work for. If companies continue using a video tape with a turn-coat expert, it appears that the video tape is marketing the competition’s product. That’s not good.

Q. How about having our CEO or one of our top managers appear on-camera? Is there anything they can do to come across as professional as possible?

A. Yes, CEOs and top managers are excellent choices for corporate videos. They should be prepared for the shoot with several choices of wardrobe. They should also have their lines memorized. They should review a list of tips and suggestions for looking good on-camera.

Q. Can we shoot our own footage and then have a professional video production company edit the footage?

A. Yes, especially if you have competent people in your organization. We recommend that you read the book, Producing a First-Class Video For Your Business – Work With Professionals or Do It Yourself before you attempt this, however. We’d be happy to consult with you and assist in your production in, anyway. Our book is available at many fine book stores across Canada and the United States. Especially if the book store has a Self-Counsel Press display. Check with your favorite library, as well.

Q. We have some existing footage of our product in the field. It looks really good. It’s on VHS format video tape. Can we use that in the production.

A. We pride ourselves on our ability to incorporate many different types of media into our production. VHS video footage, while it is the lowest resolution format, could be digitized and edited. Results vary. Production companies using digital non-linear formats, could probably handle your request very well, also.

Q. How disruptive is a video production?

A. Full-production, Hollywood-style crews can be disruptive, it’s true. We like to keep crews to a minimum. Sometimes we only use a one-person or two-person crew. This is not only less disruptive, but it also saves money. With new lower-light cameras, the need for the bright lights of Hollywood have gone a little by the wayside.

Q. How long does it take to produce a video?

A. In depends on the complexity, but generally about a month. Video production companies are used to working with deadlines. We’ve done many quick turn-around presentations. We burn the midnight oil for our clients. Visit the PNW Video Production site for a more detailed break down (week by week) of pre-production, production and post-production needs.

Q. What’s the most economical video to produce?

A. A voice/over type is the least expensive. A good, professional voice is essential for the voice over. The more expensive video type is interactive/acting on-camera. This type of production can sometimes double a budget, but produces very effective presentations.

Q. How do we find actors?

A. Most production companies know actors. We have a selection of professional and semi-professional actors to work with. Video tapes and audio tapes (or Reels) are commonly available for review.

Q. Should we ask for a sample tape to look at?

A. Sure. Professional video production companies should either have their own sales & marketing tape (they’re in the business!) or copies of productions that are similar to your project.

What we like to do is talk about the production and budget first. Then we show samples of productions within a selected budget. It doesn’t do our clients any good to show them a champagne budget video, if they’ll be working on a beer budget. The reverse is true, also.

Q. Professional video production companies would have to fly into our location. Wouldn’t it be cheaper for us to hire a local production company?

A. Sometimes. There are many good production companies throughout the world. Even in small communities. There’s a difference, however, in video production and business/industrial video production. There’s no magic in producing a good looking video. What’s more difficult is producing a video that sells a product, service, or viewpoint.

Q. What does a video cost?

A. There are many factors. The usual figure given in the industry is $1,000 to $1,500 hundred per finished minute for quality productions. Many Betacam-SP productions run about $3,000 per finished minute.

Q. We only have a small budget. Is there anything we can do to help cut costs?

A. Certainly. Please, tell the video production company up-front what kind of budget you have in mind. The production can be tailored for your needs and requirements. There are many ways to make video productions more economical. We’re experts in trimming costs.

Q. What video format are used in industrial/business video production?

A. It depends on the budget. There are a wide variety of video formats used by industrial video production companies. VHS is the lowest resolution. Betacam-SP is one of the highest. There are many formats in-between.

Sometimes we shoot on Betacam-SP, a high-resolution broadcast standard. Most often these days, however, video camcorders are recorded in digital format, so the information can be easily transferred to editing computers.

Q. Can you put our completed production on DVD, or CD-ROM for distribution and the internet?

A. We like to know exactly how you intend to use your production. But, no matter how you are distributing, we will use the best format for your video.

Q. What’s the first step? What do we do?

A. Take a few minutes to think about your project and your needs. To produce a video a good industrial video production company will need to know a few things about your company and the presentation.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. In what setting will the video be shown?

2. Who will be watching the video?

3. What is the purpose of the video?

4. What do you want people to do when they’re through viewing the video?

5. What do you want people to remember about the video?

6. How many poeple are going to view your video?

7. How are you going to distribute the video?

Write your information down and share it with other people in your company to get their responses.