There’s More to the Mountains
Panorama is a spectacular mountain resort in British Columbia, Canada. Their intimate village experience combines ski with a vibrant scene, hot pools, indulgent dining, shopping and spa treatments. We managed to persuade long time ski enthusiast and digital strategist Lawrence to take off his skis for long enough to tell us about the websites we’ve created with the Panorama team.
Inspiration. Information. Transaction.
The Panorama team first emailed us in 2014. They’d seen sites we’d built for Mount Ruapehu and a few other ski areas, and they invited us to help them redesign their website. It was an intensely collaborative project, and their new site went live in late 2014.
Their new site was quite different to the typical ski resort site. Our mantra at the time was inspiration, information, transaction, a philosophy now borne out by research from key digital travel players like Google and Facebook. So, Panorama’s site was heavy on inspire, and a lot more visual than their competitors, who tended to focus on product.
You’re Not Selling Ski Passes!
Our take was that we weren’t selling ski passes. We were promoting the Panorama experience, and if we did that well, the ski-passes would sell themselves. Panorama is a boutique destination resort. People typically stay for a week. So, the story we told through their site was all about the whole adventure. And that was quite revolutionary back in 2014!
The site worked hard for the next three seasons. We had a good relationship with the Panorama team, but we were pretty hands off. It was your classic waterfall website build basically, where we hit it hard and then left it alone, and the site didn’t evolve much during those three years.
Three Years Later …
So, three seasons later it was time for a new site. Despite the site having performed well, we’d encountered challenges with third-party hosting, and we were retiring their content management system, a proprietary CMS based on the now obsolete Adobe ColdFusion 9. These issues had understandably raised questions, so the Panorama team decided to take their new site project to a competitive pitch.
We’re not going to pretend that a competitive pitch isn’t always a heavy sigh moment for us. Unless a project is publicly funded, our partner taking a project to tender tells us that we haven’t done the best job we can at meeting their needs. But, a proposal is also an opportunity for us to add value and challenge ourselves and our partners. And that’s just what we did.
Reverse that Brief
Websites are technical things, and technology is important, but it should never be the focus of your project. The number one goal of any website project is to improve the user experience you offer your website visitors. Technology is simply one of the tools you use to do that. To paraphrase the great Simon Sinek, it’s your how, not your why.
We addressed the Panorama team’s core technical concerns, with our full-service hosting solution and a well-supported open-source CMS. Then we inspired them to think beyond the technology. We reviewed their visitor journey, focused on their destination over product, and pushed the boundaries of possibility beyond their brief.
It was a very consultative appointment. We spoke with key people throughout the Panorama organisation to establish trust. We believe we won the project because we thought wider and bigger than the other agencies and articulated an effective solution with clear KPIs.
We asked Marke Dickson, Director of Marketing, Sales and Guest Services, what advice he would give a business about to embark on a website build, on choosing their agency partner.
We reviewed their competitors to see if much had changed in three years. It hadn’t. Most ski areas market online in the same way. They lead with product and they’re sales-centric. There’s no focus on inspiration or experience. We asked the Panorama team, “How bold do you want to be?”. At the heart of the new site is Panorama’s own vison. Panorama welcomes guests, not visitors. The Panorama team’s job is to make sure those guests have great experiences.
Trust and Collaboration Lifts Everyone’s Game
At TimeZoneOne we strive to work in a highly collaborative way, because we know many minds make for better results. The Panorama project was a hugely enjoyable collaboration because we had the full and enthusiastic participation of the team at Panorama, who committed 110% to the project, and we also had the talented people at Story & Co also gave their insightful feedback.
We’re very proud of panoramaresort.com. It’s one of the finest sites we’ve ever made. But we’re even more proud of the trust we built with our partners. Digital designer Dice Sales has the last word. “We listened to them and they listened to us. That’s why it went so smoothly. It’s been awesome.”
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