Nuts & Bolts - Case Study : Blue Mountain Site Redo Brings Sunny SkiesSeptember 2013 By Heather Fletcher
It's a given for skiers—the first thing they want to know about any ski area is: "What are the conditions?"
So Heidi Lutz, director of sales and marketing at Blue Mountain Ski Area and Resort in Palmerton, Pa., made sure that would be the first thing site visitors would see. Now, the upper-right-hand corner of skibluemt.com urges desktop visitors to "VIEW.BLUE.LIVE!" and a click lands the viewer on "Mountain Cams." At 3:01 p.m. on Aug. 9, 2013, m.skibluemt.com showed the weather to be rainy and 84 degrees. Then comes the most important button for conversion: tickets and rentals. During the summer, visitors could opt for activities such as biking or disc golf. But it wasn't always like this.
The mobile optimization was part of the reason Blue Mountain hired Harrisburg, Pa.-based marketing agency JPL during the summer of 2012. Really, Lutz says, all of skibluemt.com needed an overhaul. It hadn't been updated since 2007. "It was overdue."
The old site was loaded with content, but possibly too loaded. "No one wants to read pages upon pages and paragraph after paragraph of what they need to do," Lutz says. "But they do need to know what they need to do. … If they show up here with no gloves or no jacket, they're not going to have a great experience. And the goal is: 'Create memories that last a lifetime.'"
In with the checklist. Out with the essay.
Similarly, the desktop site got quick bites of information. The mobile site saw even smaller ones and the introduction of a GPS-tracker for directions. "It's crazy streamlined," Lutz says of the mobile site. "It's much easier to navigate."
Overall revenue increased 17 percent. Mobile visits increased from 19 percent of overall site traffic during the 2011-2012 ski season to 42 percent during the 2012-2013 season, both beginning on Dec. 10 and ending on March 3. (About 30 percent of the 2012-2013 visitors used cell phones and 12 percent scrolled through on tablets, which see the desktop version of the site.)
Most notably, it's a lot easier for mobile visitors to buy tickets—revenue via the devices rose 89 percent during this recent ski season. But Lutz says it still needs to get better. She's working with a vendor other than JPL to optimize the point-of-sale landing page. Ideally, she'd like to make it easier for skiers and snowboarders to be able to upgrade their tickets on the slopes—say, from a morning ticket to a longer stay.