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Ticket Sales
I Have a Dream, That One Day I’ll Buy a Lift Ticket On Your Site and This Will Be the Process…

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

Today I’ll keep it short and sweet. The images below will do most of the talking.

Simply put, I love the “Pricing Calculator” you find on Jackson Hole’s website. It’s clean, simple, responsive, intuitive, and looks great.

jh1

Pretty dreamy.

Ugh, Again?
But it’s what happens after you click “buy now” – that “next step” – where I start to let my imagination run wild.

jh2

Going from a beautifully designed site to this same, decade-old interface is all too common in skiing.

Whether is lift tickets, lodging searches, or retail stores, resorts simply don’t have the options – the control – they need to not just optimize that first step, but EVERY step of the process.

The Dream
My dream is that one day Jackson Hole will, without too much effort, be able to build something like this.

jh3

And my first click becomes my only click…not the first of 12.

Where, instead of having no option but to start me at the top of yet another funnel with I click “buy now”, they can handle everything within the walls of their design, their flow, their nav, and their desires.

My Plea
So my message to the skier-facing vendors in the ski industry is simply this: it’s time to step it up.

It’s time to offer resorts the tools they need to create user experiences that are as good, or better, as the alternatives they often find themselves competing with.

  • No more stock storefronts.
  • No more developer-designed defaults.
  • No more walled gardens where even qualified traffic has to start at the beginning.

RTP (or what’s left of them) ain’t gonna do it, but as they step out of the spotlight, I’m hopeful that someone committed to solving this problem takes the stage.

Will it happen? I dunno. But a guy can dream, can’t he?



  • Chris Lamothe

    It won’t be iSales doing it either.

  • Chris Tucker

    Wouldnt this be a decision made at the wire frame level by the resort marketing team?

    • I wish I had the experience in them first hand to be able to speak more specifically, but from my experience the desire is usually there, it’s the platforms they are trying to integrate with that pose the challenge and lack to tools to make it happen.

  • Trevor Crist

    This approach (and multiple variations) are already supported by Inntopia. All the json/ajax hooks are there to allow users to build these types of dynamic forms. The only real limitation is around security/PCI compliance, which oftentimes dictates how you can collect that actual payment card information. The JH approach you have above is doable, but the payment card collection/tokenization element would require JH’s web team to do some additional coding to make it work.

    Intrawest took a big step in this direction with their Passport sales site (which you wrote about back in the fall), and Copper Mountain also took some big steps in this direction with their custom UX, developed by Spotlio , using the Inntopia APIs. You will see several other Inntopia-powered resorts streamlining the purchase path in the near future.

    • Well there you go! This is why Bernadette is important, so I can be less busy at Destination Summit and finally sit in your API sessions and see just how much Inntopia can really do :)

      Let’s regroup, I think the doability of some of this is worth a closer look.

  • Maybe the Cloud Store option will save us! Cue Inntopia, Liftopia and maybe even GetSkiTickets.com.
    In all reality though, I wish I had a better answer.

  • After building a couple custom versions of online tickets. We’ve found the ski resort is it’s own worst enemy. What should be a simple ticket purchase becomes choices of every possible option…pick a session, adult, junior, rental (with different price for ski rental and snowboard rental), add a lesson, add tubing.

    The ski area has given the customer so many choices, the customer won’t buy in advance because they don’t know the answers in advance. (Not sure if my kid wants to ski or snowboard, not sure exactly what time I’m going to get there)

    The best quote I’ve heard from a ski area owner – if I can’t answer “what does it cost to ski?” without asking the customer 5 questions, our pricing is too complicated.

    • Very helpful perspective, Steve, and that’s a really good point and a good reminder of the other side of the coin.

      I’ve always felt that, as an industry, our pricing/product strategy is many times more complex than it needs to be and it’s nice to have that vindicated by one of the best in the game.

    • Trevor Crist

      Couldn’t agree more. Often the operations side of the operations and the marketing side are in conflict on these items as well. Marketing: “We want to streamline the purchase process” Operations: “Great, as long as we make sure the customer gives us the date of birth, height, weight, shoe size, and special dietary requirements of every person in their party before they complete the purchase. And, of course we need to force them to log in or create an account so we make sure we don’t get any duplicate customer records. Other than that, streamline away!”

    • Gravnetic

      I agree but it I don’t think there are systems that really support what you’re saying simply. You have a ticket object that extends any option object imaginable. Maybe I want a orange flavored smoothy with my summer, 1/2 day ticket good from 4/1 to 4/6. If it is an attribute that extends ticket it shouldn’t matter. There is too much inheritance within product software. Give me a bucket, make it empty and let me extend whatever I want. Tack on some rules to the cart if you must.

      • That’s the issue…the rules. If you have all those variables it makes it harder for the customer to know what they want, much less what other people in their party may or may not want. The resort wants you to buy in advance and “avoid the lines” The problem is with all the choices, it’s hard for the customer to know “what they want”.

        • Gravnetic

          I get your point and 100% agree, I’m just saying the systems also make it complex because they are overly complex. Explain to me why you need more than a single table to hold customer info?

          I have lots of COTS carts that have logic appliced to products and they handle it with a clear UI and user flow.

          Bouncing customers around vendors for lodging, ticket and info seems to be a bigger issue for me. Snowbird for example, an award winning website a unique lodge booking site and then on to tickets that are handled by Liftopia. I was actually surprised by this because I thought they were on Siriusware.

          Inntopia has the right idea if they can continue to get resorts past their vendor lock.

  • Gravnetic

    Hack, hack away nearly every day for every revision and update.

  • When someone can find a cost-effective solution for creating a totally custom storefront for a small ski area – let me know, I’m all ears. We’ve made custom hacks to our RTP interface but when it comes down to it 1) we need a system that can talk to our partner resorts’ system (and not everyone is this boat, this is very specific to my ski area) and 2) we don’t have the capital $$ to create our own POS system that accommodates scans, rentals, lessons, etc.

    Would LOVE to have a company step up and create a POS that worked for the industry and that had a bit more of an open code for each ski area to tweak. I’m with you Greg, I just wish the custom solution were more “in reach” for us.

  • Evan Reece

    This is a super interesting post (and thread of comments!).

    One thing that is hard for us here is separating the “feeling” about a site/store design from what UI/UX yields the best results based on the goal of the resort. About 3 years into our company’s history we had to separate our opinion as to what “looks good” from the truth that came out of our quantitative and qualitative user testing. At first it was challenging to let go of feeling, but observing millions of customer interactions and hundreds of hours of video user testing is what pushes our usability forward now.

    We now iterate our products (Cloud Store for the 90+ resorts using that for their eCommerce) and Liftopia.com based on these sources of data with the constant goal of a faster user experience through to a transaction while delivering on the expectation of the user at the same time.

    Aligning internal interests at a resort as to the goal of eCommerce can definitely be the largest challenge, but most resorts now see max revenue (a function of effective pricing and effective usability) as the primary goal so long as CSAT stays high.

    Either way this topic is critical as eCommerce becomes a priority for all resorts.

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