skip to main content

Resort Website Re-Designs: Five First Steps to an Awesome End Result

divider image for this post

“This week is website week. We’ll be covering everything from case studies to owning your channels and what you can do to be ready come redesign time. Enjoy.”

I met Steve Pope at my very first NSAA conference in 2011. Since then, I’ve watched his Indiana-based design studio turn out quality, consistent work for a handful of the Midwest’s best resorts.

So, when I wanted to put together a list of “redesign steps before you talk to a designer”, I reached out. Here’s what he had to say.

It’s that time of year again, where ski areas are coming back from “summer break”. Decisions are being made about pricing, programs and that minor detail – what are we going to do with the web site?

And the answer should not be what shade of blue are we using this year?

You can simply Google “steps in designing a web site” and you will get articles with 6 simple steps, that talk about: know your audience, determine your brand, establish your goals.

Yep all true, but we are way beyond that!

We could spend hours on technology, apps, responsive design, social integration, what CMS to use, but let’s focus on what you need to provide to your web company to send them off in the right direction.

Let’s look at what will make your site better

1. Know the numbers
Take a look at your analytics (note to self, if you don’t have access or know if you have them, make that a priority to get access and take a look).

You can spend hours looking over the visits, traffic flow, location, devices, etc. but let’s start simple. What are you 5 most popular pages?

That is your starting point, your audience has spoken. With the new site make sure those 5 things are easily accessible from the home page. For the majority of resorts those are usually: snow report, live cams, lift ticket pricing, directions and on from there. Each year I seem to see at least one resort site where I can’t find where they have hidden the snow report!

We have found several sites where the snow report and live cams pages gets more traffic than the home page. That means your customers are bookmarking those pages and coming back again and again. We have started to put additional information on these pages such as events, news etc, because the audience was missing it, since they were skipping the home page.

2. Think Revenue
The days of your site being an online brochure are over. Your site should be your 24-hour ticket window. Online pass sales are easy, but what’s else? How about lift tickets, rentals, lesson programs, event registration. The big hurdle always being “how does this integrate with our POS?”.

Take some time in advance determine what you want to sell online and how it works with your current system. Telling a web company you want to sell passes online is a lot different than selling passes online with a scannable bar code receipt that does a data dump into your POS.

3. Save the Customer Time
What can the customer do in advance to have a better experience at your resort?
Those are the things that should be on your site. Think rental forms, waivers, lesson registration, even group reservations – all the paperwork. How many times have you stood in a line waiting for the person in front of you to fill out a form? What if you could fill that out in advance and either bring it with you or submit it and the resort has it on file. How much happier is that customer?

4. Think Multimedia
The big picture of the cute kid on the home page is nice, but it doesn’t tell me what’s going on. What if you did a weekly video of what’s happening at the resort this week? How about an audio snow report? Reading “ 3” of new snow” is a lot different than hearing “it starting snowing about 6am, we’ve got 3” of new snow and the groomers said up top it’s more like 8, the main road is plowed, so come on up”.

For those with terrain parks, what about a terrain report, what features are open, what’s been added. Show me the parks.

5. I’m on your site – not at the resort
Many resorts the web sites become the legal fallback. Meaning it’s full of all the rules, regulations and everything the customer can’t do. For example, many sites have the ski school page and it doesn’t have a single image of a lesson. It tells me how much lessons costs, when I can take them, where I go to take them, even what I should wear. But what’s the beginner area look like? Introduce an instructor, show me it’s fun.

Remember the customer visiting your web site may not be a customer yet, you need to sell them not scare them!

After reading this you may be thinking, wait a minute I thought this was about site design? All 5 points have everything to do with the design, these answer the questions of what’s important, how we present the information and allow our customers to interact with the site.

Now schedule that meeting with your web company!

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.

Get the weekly digest.

New stories, ideas, and jobs delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.