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The problem with resort website headlines.

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

I’m perplexed. So perplexed my brow is deeply furrowed. It’s that serious.

A while back I blocked out a few minutes to brainstorm ideas for SlopeFillers posts. In an effort to spark inspiration, I watch one of the compilations of 100 ski resort websites I’ve made over the years.

You know those times you’re cooking and you can’t shake the feeling that something is missing? Something like, oh I dunno, baking powder in the biscuits (two weeks ago) or salt in the eggs (last week).

Halfway through staring at 100 resort landing pages I had the same itch.

So I watched it again. And again. On the third time it hit me. Here are a few headlines that helped me see it.

  • “Gift Cards Now Available in Our Online Store!” (0:08)
  • “Mountain Adventures Now Open!” (0:50)
  • “$599 Season Passes” (1:06)
  • “Mother’s Day Brunch” (1:23)
  • “Let’s Play: Early Bird $99 Golf Package Now Available” (1:37)
  • “Fly Fishing Season is Open” (1:48)
  • “VIP Direct to Slope Pass Only $669” (1:50)
  • “Summer Adrenaline Starts Rushing Memorial Day Weekend” (2:08)
  • “Learn to Ski and Add Your Friend for Free” (2:28)
  • “New for 2013: Preferred Golfer Card, Just $99 Before May 27th” (2:43)
  • “Spring House Memberships ON SALE NEW” (2:53)
  • “Summer Opens June 28, 2013” (3:03)

I could go on, but I won’t. Do you see what’s missing?

See It?
What’s missing is copy for people who ARE NOT already sold on your resort. Instead of selling the value behind an offer, these headlines seem to assume the visitor is already hook-line-and-sinker on your mountain and are simply telling them what to buy.

We’re telling them to book a vacation or join an email list without ever giving them a reason to do so.

Perhaps this is justified, right? Perhaps your brand is so well known that anyone who shows up is likely halfway down the funnel and just needs a place to stick their credit card?

Then again, maybe not.

Who We Lose
Here’s the thing. When we write a headline for people that are already sold, we lose people who aren’t. When we write for both, nobody is lost. Let me rewrite a couple of these headlines to show you what I mean:

BEFORE
appBEFORE

AFTER
appAFTER

Do we alienate loyalists by specifying a little bit of value behind the offer? No. If anything, we might remind them why they love us. Or…

BEFORE
hvBEFORE

AFTER
hvAFTER

Again, a small tweak doesn’t alienate those that already know why your course is worth spending $99 on, but it fills in the blanks for those that don’t.

The Surprise
What surprised me wasn’t that this trend existed. What surprised me was how ubiquitous it seemed to be.

The offers were appealing, but only if you were pre-sold. It seems a few simple tweaks could make these more appealing and more effective on a larger scale.

And, that said, keep in mind that this concept goes much deeper than just the headline.



  • Totally agree. One of the greatest challenges is to stop talking about the resort (or any other business) and why it is great, and instead start telling the story of why it will bring “value” to your perspective customers and what it can do for them. I think many ski resort marketers also have passion for the resort they work at. This, in my opinion, increases the barrier to view the resort from potential customer’s viewpoint rather than what the marketer personally loves about the resort. Not that having passion about your resort (business) is bad, but it has to be tempered with the proverbial “rose colored” glasses of a non-believer.

  • Sebastián Cuadra Rivera

    Totally true. People doesn’t need to know what every resort have, but if your first message says what you have and also what you can offer them it’s double or triple more powerful than just post a nice price in your index.

    Check http://www.angelfireresort.com we have something like what you say, we have nice prices no call people attention and also slides with a short description of why people should take those prices.

    Nice article, really useful!

  • SkiG

    This has been one of the top things I’ve worked on with my last 2 bigger resort clients- making sure there is a compelling story on the home page that talks to the first-time visitor. I think we got there (with the help of the uber-talented Origin Design) with both of them. Sadly, one has stepped back on home page content but the more I look at ski area websites, they’re over-built for returners instead of first-time shoppers. I think it’s just trying to find that balance.

    • Very well said, Matt, and good on ya. Once I realized what was happening it’s been crazy how ubiquitous it is and how often this same tone shows up in other collateral and messages.

      • SkiG

        If you’re bored, check out the new alta.com homepage that we just got up with the help with SUMO, Alta’s web developers. Also designed and got up a landing page for the 17-18 campaign to deliver more content (https://www.alta.com/alta-100-percent-skiing)

        • Oooh, I like that a lot. Very well done.

          • SkiG

            Let’s be honest, that’s Origin with the job well done. I just gave Alta the nudge and the reasoning

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