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If I Had to Build a Resort Mobile App, This is What I’d Create

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The ideas that rattle around in my brain are approximately 80% rubbish, 19% potential, and 1% worthy of your time.

Unless I get them out, however, we won’t know which is which. So, after recapping some of the top mobile app platforms a few weeks ago, I decided to finally share what I’d do if I had to build a resort app.

The Pattern
More than the actual contents, I want to draw your attention to the pattern. Most resort apps have lots of great content but almost no focus.

The best way I can describe it is that these apps wait for the users to have a reason to open it rather than giving a reason to open it. Many of them also contain info that isn’t stored locally and redundant to their mobile site. So, here’s my four-step pattern:

  • Give the app one, clear functionality
  • Create a reason to open the app every day
  • Indirectly tie that reason to the mountain
  • Direct further inquiries to mobile site

I’d want the app to become a daily bus-ride, pooping, or mid-meeting habit. So, here’s what I did.

1) Main Screen
I used Beaver Mountain, UT as my guinea pig. The object is simple: roll the dice. If your combo is the number of today’s first chair, you win a prize that can only be redeemed by coming to the mountain. Here’s what the main screen would look like.

2) Rolling
Rolling the dice would take a few seconds. The rolling would secretly be a “loading” icon because while it was “rolling” the phone would be grabbing current conditions and info for the results screen.

3) Results Screen
Next, the results screen would show their number and a few details that would both give them something to do as they wait for the results but also, at the same time, show them what it’s going to be like for the people who get first chair and give them something to do about it.
beavDICE3 beavDICE4

Keep in mind that I designed this in about 40 minutes so lots of pieces are missing and it’s rough, but if you keep in mind my pattern I think you get the gist.

Give the app a simple, focused reason to be used every day. Tie in information that brings their mind to your mountain for just a few minutes and creates some motivation. And, if possible, remove some of the redundancy between app and site by directing details to the mobile site rather than a full, in-app menu.

  • Dave Gibson

    I like this idea for sure. I’d suggest adding a fifth step: design it for a specific audience.

    Generally I think that audience for resorts are existing customers. As such, its a loyalty tool, but to succeed, it must be a tool that offers additional usefulness for maximizing the experience, recording that experience, sharing that experience, and connecting with friends. Alpine Replay and EpicMix do pretty well at that, while also collecting a buttload of great data.

    • Hmm, interesting points. I don’t know if I agree, at least in terms of this example. Success is a matter of goals and the goals in this case are to “create a reason to open the app every day and indirectly tie that to the mountain.” it’s not meant to be app people use once they’re at the mountain, it’s about keeping a resort (and skiing) top of mind and creating reasons and motivation to visit the mountain.

      To your point, if I wanted the app to be super useful to people as they skied and promote recording/sharing, I’d take a very different approach and would likely pattern itself after the ideas you shared.

      • Dave Gibson

        I suppose there is no reason not to have specific apps for specific audiences then. This app may be more relevant for non-pass holders looking for the deal.

        • Well, this is just a draft and one version of the draft at that. The deal could be geotargeted using GPS, it could be different for passholders vs non, it doesn’t have to be a deal at all. The goal was to highlight the pattern: focused (rather than swiss army knife) around a specific goal that gives someone a reason to use the app every day.

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