Palm Springs’ little text message that could

With just one text message, the crappiest Web site I've seen in years, and some wonderfully timed drug violence in Mexico, the city of Palm Springs, Calif., has managed to win back the tourism business of hard-partying college spring breakers. And not a moment too soon. Some history: Palm Springs claims to have invented spring break, but alcohol-fueled riots in the '80s prompted then-mayor Sonny Bono to enact a bunch of no-no's (including a famous anti-thong ordinance) and send students skittering to Mexico. No one wants 1986 back, but Palm Springs relies on hotel-room taxes for a whopping one-fifth of its annual budget, and so, in these tough times, it wants the kids back. In a blinding argument for the power of mobile media, the Palm Springs Board of Tourism sent just one well-timed text message ("Skip Cabo, come to Palm Springs") to 55,000 college students, built that craptastic site, and saw hotel occupancy spike to new heights. Did the students enjoy it as much as Mexico, and will they return next year? According to one 19-year-old who was seen loading an autographed beer bong into his trunk, "It was real fun, from what I remembered."

—Posted by Rebecca Cullers