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Deer Valley smartly played the subdomain card for their expansion announcement.

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Resort news covers a surprisingly broad range, all of which can be extremely relevant to your audience.

On one end of the spectrum is a storm that could drop 8″ on your slopes this Friday. This type of news happens fairly often and will be over and done in a matter of hours. On the other end of the spectrum is a massive terrain expansion that will only happen once and completely changes the dynamics of your resort forever.

Again, both of these are incredibly relevant to your skiers, but the latter is a unique combination of impact and frequency that gives it incredible weight.

The question then becomes, what level of marketing is worthy of that weight?

Multi-Channel Approach

Deer Valley was in such a situation when they were announcing their merger / expansion with the Mayflower area that’s been under construction next door to the resort for a few years now. It’s a massive story for the mountain and they did a fantastic job of getting the word out.

They hosted a press event with a full presentation to frame the story for the media.

They took those folks out on the mountain to show them the terrain first hand.

They made a big PR push with an arsenal of high quality assets to earn coverage on dozens of other outlets.

They shared the news and reshared others’ versions of the news on their owned channels and social media outlets.

But all of this needs a home, right? Somewhere the details can live, that news outlets can reference, that social posts can link to. A permanent residence for this story in the months and years between today and when the expansion nears completion.

The Subdomain Approach

You could create a dedicated page on your site – – or even a dedicated subdirectory – – with multiple pages, but Deer Valley did neither.

Instead, they enlisted the help of Dave Amirault through his new agency, Figure 11, to create a full, dedicated site on the subdomain.

screenshot of deer valley website

I really like this move for three reasons.

First, it carries weight.
Again, this is a big, heavy story. Any sort of news or bit of information could be on a subdirectory or page, but a subdomain is a signal that this is something special. Like designing a dedicated event logo or celebrating an anniversary in print, the medium helps support and reinforce the weight of the main message.

Second, it gives space for creative freedom.
A subdomain is just far enough away from your main site that you have creative license to create a custom experience that’s perfectly tailored to the story and on-brand without being constrained by the structure of the main website.

For example, Dave was able to create this clean, minimal navigation to easily help folks around the site without having to compete with’s traditional nav.

deer valley site navigation

He could create content blocks that were ideal for telling the story of an expansion rather than the ones the main website was designed for.

screenshot of content block

This is also true of the CMS. The main Deer Valley site runs on heavy-but-powerful Sitecore. Part of the reason Deer Valley chose to work with Dave is they wanted to use lighter-and-more-nimble WordPress which is much more suited to a site of this style, size, and scope.

And speaking of blocks, the entire site is built using WordPress full-site editing and utilizes a drag-and-drop library of patterns to build and edit each page.

drag and drop editor

Third, it allows for further expansion.
Even more, I love how this site creates a space where the story can evolve as the expansion gets underway. Maybe some of that news belongs on the main site, but if this site continues to act as the source of truth for this project, I really like how it creates a perfect home for the evolution of this story without having to always compete with stories about Monday’s storm, tomorrow’s concert, or next month’s pass deadline.

Subdomains or Not

Subdomains are a tool, to be sure, but I think they’re one our industry has underutilized for big stories that need a little bit more space.

I love the way Deer Valley played this card and I love the way Dave used this space to tell the story of this expansion is a way that was clean, effective, on-brand, but in a way that took full advantage of the separation from the main site that a subdomain provides.

Great work by all on this one. Exciting stuff.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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