August has arrived, and for many of us in and around the ski industry, so has the 2013-14 season. Not a flake has fallen, but the height of summer has passed and the only thing standing between us and carving early season turns are a few minor holidays, consumer ski shows, fall festivals and of course, back to school. Over the next 10 weeks ski areas will be buzzing with activity as crews finish laying snowmaking pipe, replacing tracks on their snow grooming fleet and completing lift inspections.
Meanwhile, the marketing department is working on all the sexy stuff, including preliminary marketing concepts and creative, potential ad buys and season pass campaigns. However, as we head into late summer, now is the perfect time to tune up a number of website and eMail items that aren’t so sexy, but will have a major impact on the coming season.
So how’s your SEO doing? Chances are, you haven’t even thought about SEO since, well, about this time last year. Your page rank in search results are a key consumer driver to your website. Without it, you’re just another face in the crowd. It’s time to take a closer look at your SEO.
Over the next 10 weeks, you’ll blast your email database with everything from “Book now and save” to “Season pass deadline is approaching.” Did you know that, according to a research study by Blue Hornet, 43 percent will open your message on their mobile device; and 83 percent will delete your email if it doesn’t render properly on their mobile device! So, are your emails and eNewsletters mobile friendly?
When it comes to confirmation, pre-arrival and post departure messaging, we seem to have a “set it and forget it” mentality. So when was the last time you took a look at those reoccurring messages? Are you promoting what’s new for the season in your season pass confirmation emails? How about a Bring a Friend deal? Season pass holders are your biggest “net promoters” and with the industry, and your resort, initiatives to grow the sport, we need season pass holders to bring their friends and family to your slopes. Reoccurring messages also offer you a tremendous opportunity to up-sell your guests. So loading them with offers and incentives are the low hanging fruit.
Analytics show that for ski resort websites, the top pages aside from the homepage where guests research a vacation are: 1. Trail map; 2. Snow report; 3. Lift tickets and passes. Do these pages offer incentives for visiting, a booking path into conversion?
Finally, does your ecommerce platform offer a smooth transition from your website through purchase? Many ecommerce platforms are managed by the resort IT department and at times there is a disconnect between the website, which is managed by the marketing department, and the online store. Have you checked your cart abandonment rates lately? Have you set up a reoccurring email to those who abandoned their cart with an invitation to come back and complete the purchase?
While the sexy stuff is what gets our blood pumping this time of year, the non-sexy stuff is what pumps incremental revenue onto your bottom line throughout the season. When April comes around, your marketing efforts will be judged by how well your efforts stacked up against the budget, not how that sexy ad looked in the fall buyers guide.