No email, internet or cell phone access… it was heaven

We just returned from an incredible 2 week trip to Mabel Lake in British Columbia.

Nestled away deep on the north side of the lake is a hidden gem we luckily heard about through our neighbor. The only way you would EVER know this place existed would be through word of mouth, or by accidental discovery.

You won’t find it on a map (other than google maps which shows the beach, but you can’t see any possible way to get there by road). Even the name of the place we stayed is miraculously missing from a Google search.

It’s one of those places that ‘those in the know’ keep secret…

unplugging from the noise

My own view of heaven...

for a good reason!

We went with some friends who also have kids about the same age as our 10 yr old twins, so fun was had by young and old alike. We also had other friends visiting here and there for a few days at a time – so we had a fantastic trip (our 5th or 6th annual summer visit to this little gem).

This was not a luxury trip by any means: we actually tented it the entire time this year.

Troy and Kari

Deep in the woods and she is still happy :o)

My wonderful wife Kari is NOT a camping girl (much preferring the Hilton, over tenting and tarps), but she had more fun there than she could of at any Hilton (ok, maybe a bit of a stretch there).

My daughters could care less where we stayed – as long as there was sand, water, and our ski boat (which they have affectionately named “Sparkles”).

We ate GREAT the whole time. Remember, no power, no running water… but we still ate: East Indian food, Turkey, Prime Rib, Steaks, Beef Dip, and a whole bunch of other incredible meals that were whipped up over the Coleman or camp fire.

It all started off miserably, waking up the first morning at 5 am with the sound of 40 mile an hour winds and huge waves crashing to the shore 50 feet from where we slept.

As soon as I looked out at the storm, I knew this was not a good start. I could see the waves crashing over the back of the boat, which was tied up on the beach. As I got closer, I could see the water was a foot deep in the boat, and getting deeper every second. The bilge pump was useless as the water that was crashing into the boat was filled with sand and lake debris and it had plugged up the pump.

So… I got my trusty bucket and got busy.

400, maybe 500 bucketfuls and I FINALLY won the battle against Mother Nature.

The waves were crashing over my head while I was bailing water (as I was scooping water out, two TIMES as much was crashing over top of my head into the boat!). I knew it HAD to stop eventually, but I was very tempted to just wait it out and see…. but I didn’t.

If I had waited the water would have been deeper and even more work to get out… so I chose the more difficult path and battled it out.

From then on, the weather only got better and fun was had by all.

There were some incredible things I saw during my trip that taught me some lessons about marketing done right… and marketing done wrong.

First was the marina we picked up our supplies from. The Mabel Lake RV and Airpark is the closest place to pick up food, ice, cold beverages and ice cream for the kids… and it is a gold mine for the owners.

Thousands of people pass through their gates every summer. Some come to stay in their overnight campground. Some rent their cabins on the lake. Some own property in the resort area, with some incredible ‘cabins’ they spend their summers enjoying. Others fly their private planes in and land on the private airstrip right next to their cabins. Others use the marina for fuel and supplies.

Needless to say, it is a very busy place!

Which is what amazes me.

With all these people here, and nowhere else you can go without a 60 minute drive, you’d think the owners of the resort would find ways to leverage that and make money with it.


Their store has very little to sell other than beer, wine, liquor and ice cream (all necessities of summer camping, of course). But they
don’t offer any decent foods, they don’t offer kids toys, they don’t offer a million other things they should be offering.

So people pack up the car and drive into town to spend all their money.

Money that could have, and should have, stayed right there in the resort.

Not only that… their docks are pitiful.

95% of the people who spend their summers their have to dock their boats at another marina down the lake. Considering that many boat slips go for hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month… this is a HUGE mistake and costs them a fortune in lost revenues.

People like me have to find a spot to beach the boat while we run in and pick up supplies… there is zero space on the docks to tie up (I would easily pay money to dock the boat for 30-60 minutes… but it just wasn’t an opportunity).

Last, they have a small place in the basement area you can order burgers and fries. Nothing fancy… but what a LINE UP!

People line up and wait for 30 minutes for burgers and fries… because there is no where else to go.

Get this: They only open at noon. And they close at 5.

If they opened at 9am and closed at 8 pm… expanded to bacon and eggs in the morning and a few other items on their menu, they would make a killing.

Don’t get me wrong… I would LOVE to own a place like this.

• A HUGE starving crowd.
• A crowd with money to burn (when you take a family vacation, isn’t it fair to say that a lot of money is spent in a short period of time… and you love every minute of it?)
• Few other options for people to spend their money on.
• Hundreds of different ways you could use our type of marketing to get these people back, spending more, more often, bringing more friends each time they come.

The downside to this type of business is the short season. Up here in this area, we have a 3-4 month summer season… after that the water gets colder and people don’t go camping like this.

Which is EVEN MORE REASON they should be doing everything in their power to offer more services, more products, more deals, more of everything to their clients.

Some great lessons learned at this marina alone…

1) When you have a unique position (or location) with little to no competitors, make sure you do everything in your power to give your customers every chance possible to spend their money with you over others.

2) When you don’t have the luxury of being that unique in your marketplace, make sure you create unforgettable experiences that keep them buying more and more. They have a food stand for hot food (nothing unique about it), that they could easily expand into a breakfast, lunch, dinner selection. Adding on a few more hours a day with an expanded selection, their revenues from this stand would triple. People get tired of cooking their own food and are always open and willing to spend a few dollars to get someone else to cook!

3) If people are willing to pay big dollars for additional services (like boat slips), FIND A WAY to give it to them. If you don’t someone else will. Every single one of us has an opportunity to add on more products, more services, higher prices, greater bundles… and there are a percentage of your clients that WILL pay it.

4) If you are seasonal like this business… your downtime should be spent communicating with your clients and finding ways to get them to pre-book (and pre-pay) for the next busy season. Keep them excited about you and your business… always be telling them what is new and improved… or they will find someone who does have a new and improved offer for them.

5) Always be on the lookout for additional products and services you can offer that aren’t available. They didn’t offer water ski or wake board lessons – which could be a HUGE revenue stream for them. They could be selling maps for the HOT fishing spots. They could be offering guided fishing tours for mega money (a friend of mine owns a fishing camp in Northern British Columbia and they charge $2500 for 3 days of fishing… and are booked solid through the season).

There are so many opportunities out there for you and I to expand our offerings and build our businesses faster.

Even though the lessons shared here may be basic to you and I, chances are VERY good you aren’t doing everything possible to maximize cash flow and client relationships.

I challenge you to try implementing one idea from here into your business.

If summer is slower for you, get busy and be prepared for the busy season with more products, services and bundles for your clients.

If summer is your busy season, NOW is the time to survey your clients and ask THEM what they would like to see from you. Then give it to them.

My last word of advice for you… find some time this summer and escape from email, cell phones, internet and Twitter. It was just incredible to be completely unplugged from the grid for that long.

You couldn’t get cell, email, or internet if you tried… and it was the best part of the trip for me.

Not only that… I asked all the kids near the end what their favorite part of the trip was. Their answer? Getting away from texting, internet and gaming! ALL OF THEM SAID THIS.

An important lesson there – even the MOST plugged in generation in history quickly realizes how enjoyable life can be without all the electronic tools.


Funny thing was… as soon as we got back to Calgary, all the kids were instantly wired back in and back where they were!

Unplugging from technology for at least 10 days is guaranteed to give you a completely new outlook on life and on business.

Always love to hear from you… and if you want any specific small business marketing subject covered, please let me know!

Thanks again.

To your success,


The Island of Fun

Ever day we booted the kids off the island for "adult time" - more like marguerita time on the beach!


  1. “Troy White…Unplugged!” Sounds like a promising title for a music video or comedy act. Nice article Troy


  2. Hey Troy,

    Sounds like a great time and lots of good lessons learned here. And I bet being unplugged was awesome. I just upgraded to a “smart” phone… but I don’t know how smart it was. Every 30seconds some kind of notification goes off for e-mail, text, etc. I was always checking it the first few days, but quickly realized some things are going to wait.

    Your trip just goes to show that the world keeps moving and life goes on even if you aren’t digitally connected 24/7… and you enjoy life more.

    I’m wondering if the store owners just didn’t see more opportunity. When I used to be in construction I noticed every little details of buildings architecture or things that needed to be fixed. The people that went to these establishments everyday were oblivious to most of the stuff I showed them. And had never noticed some of the fine details of architecture I had pointed out. They should probably look at there store from a customers perspective and maybe they’d notice the immense amount of opportunity it sounds like they’re missing out on.

    I’ll have to get the name of the place you were at. It sounds like my type of place. And what’s in that cup you’re holding up.

    Glad you’re back safe and sound. Looking forward to more great stuff from you.


  3. Hi Troy,

    Excellent article. Looks like you all had a great time. I always appreciate the insights and the lessons you share about marketing as you travel around and talk with small business owners. Ken

  4. Troy, I am smiling every minute I am reading this. Sounds like a whole lot of fun!

  5. Hey Troy

    Unplugging is always good. I do it one day a week, altho not in and with the style you have.

    And your wife is gorgeous.

  6. Thanks everyone.

    Unplugging doesn’t have to take 14 days either… a good day off without tv, phone, cell or internet can be a major boost to your energy levels as well. I just happen to love beach trips and water – and considering their are neither beaches nor water in Calgary, I have to sacrifice myself and go on these trips :o)

    Thanks Dave. That she is – surprising she has stuck around as long as she has – lol.

    Dana – you can email me direct on the location. It is a secret little spot I try not to share too much – it is relatively undiscovered and not busy at all – we get beach front spots every year and just love it the way it is.

    …secret ingredients in the red glass? Tequila, lots of ice and a drop or three of Martguerita mix. And kids off the island for at least an hour for ‘adult time’.

    Tons o fun.


  7. Robin Lee says:

    Wonderful article with lots of food for thought. Almost felt like I was there 🙂

    Love the ideas – thanks for sharing


  8. Troy, I like your point here about the starving crowed of people …It’s the most basic principle of business.

    “Find a hungry crowed of people and feed them what they need.”

    Most people develop a product or service and then try and create a market for it which is one of the main pitfalls of business.

    Great post here…Thanks Troy

    Tim P Sykes

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