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What Yesterday’s iPhone 5 Launch Teaches Us About Resort Website Marketing

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The arrival of iPhone 5 was a long time coming. Teasers, leaks, and rumors had been circulating for months. News outlets didn’t need anything more than an artist’s guess at what they thought it might look like to create a massive wave of buzz. When very little was changed visually on iPhone 5, you could almost feel a collective sigh of disappointment on the web.

Instead of incremental improvements, they wanted what Marketing Experiments calls a “radical redesign”. They wanted something dramatic.

This is how Apple designer Jony Ive said it:

“When you think about your iphone, it’s probably the object that you use most in your life. It’s the product that you have with you all the time. With this unique relationship people have with their iPhone, we take changing it really seriously. We don’t want to just make a new phone, we want to make a much better phone.”

They didn’t make it drastically different, they simply made it better.

Optimization vs Starting Over
I think there is a strong parallel in skiing and marketing, specifically with the topic I brought up yesterday: website optimization. For most resorts, website optimization is synonymous with website redesign. Instead of taking a product they already have piles of insights about and making it better, they are starting all over and hoping that this “radical redesign” will perform better than the last “radical redesign”.

This kind of approach reminds me of an example from “Ad Man” Rory Sutherland:

“The question was given to a bunch of engineers, about 15 years ago, “How do we make the [train] journey to Paris better?” And they came up with a very good engineering solution, which was to spend six billion pounds building completely new tracks from London to the coast, and knocking about 40 minutes off a three-and-half-hour journey time. Now, call me Mister Picky. I’m just an ad man … … but it strikes me as a slightly unimaginative way of improving a train journey merely to make it shorter. Now what is the hedonic opportunity cost on spending six billion pounds on those railway tracks?

Here is my naive advertising man’s suggestion. What you should in fact do is employ all of the world’s top male and female supermodels, pay them to walk the length of the train, handing out free Chateau Petrus for the entire duration of the journey. (Laughter) (Applause) Now, you’ll still have about three billion pounds left in change, and people will ask for the trains to be slowed down.”

Instead of looking at tiny ways that could drastically improve website performance, we often start from scratch, “tearing up the tracks” and “building new trains” instead of simply improving what we already have at a fraction of the cost and with a much greater chance of improved results.

Now, there certainly is a time for complete makeovers, but if you’ve never done a split test on your website, I dare you to try and compare the effort between a dozen split tests and the meetings and cost of a redesign. Would you prefer incremental sales or incrementally cooler design?

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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