With the Winter travel season almost upon us, news from Sliline, a leading UK ski holiday site, offers the first of this year’s ski news snippets. The company’s launch of a new user friendly site, and other value propositions aims to awaken hybernating snowboarders and skiers to upcoming travel deals. Just how has the online travel world set out to engage you this year?
For most people, snowy vacation getaways may seem pretty far off, but in a couple of months skiers and slope fanatics will be planning and booking their Winter seasons with renewed vigor. Skiline’s new site and other initiatives may be just what the ski doctor ordered, so Argo took a look at how the new site stacks up.
First impressions are important where online brands are concerned. So, my first impression of Skiline can only be described as “underwhelmed” – the press release professed “user” value, not so evident. This is a big minus for conversions, but let’s assume Skiline has great utility elsewhere, for the moment. Looking at a few competitors for comparisons; First Choice, Crystal, Inghams, and ThompsonSki, seem like fair choices.
We won’t go into an in depth on all these competitors, but looking at what Skiline offers, and deciding if there is reason to switch from one of the others, this seems a reasonable assessment method. So below you will see these UK ski booking sites listed, followed by a yes, maybe, or no as to whether we would switch from the suggested site to Skiline, and a bit of a reason. Here we go.
- First Choice – Maybe – First Choice is aesthetically more appealing, interface simpler, but actual function and listings are sketchy
- Crystal – No – Crystal is fast, simple, aesthetically superior in many respects – there appears to be no differentiator
- Inghams – Yes – Inghams is circuitous to navigate, limited country offerings, ugly previews, basically Web 1.5 technology – clunky
- ThompsonSki – Maybe – Thompson has some serious listing problems despite the professional look, 225 preview pixels being one
As you can see above, I am not thrilled with any of these competitors to Skiline. In fairness, their presentation of these resorts is not better than even Thompson’s, which is horrible. Just how any online booking portal can expect to deliver into even the mid term (2015 say) without “showing” people the value of places – well, this is a mystery to me. They cannot say the technology and need are not there.
It is difficult not to be critical here. We are consumer advocates, sure. However, more meaningfully, we our other businesses provide content for award winning travel sites. The bottom line here is, these online portals have cut corners somewhere. The images, interfaces, and in many cases the content they offer is, quite frankly, mediocre at best. In complete fairness though, it took me a bit of looking to find real cutting edge.
Ski.com sucks too. Orbitz as well. SkiUtah, Snowpac.com, Skivermont, Skivacations.org, Fasttrackski.com., Ifyouski.com, Igluski.com, you get my point I hope. Not until I reached down the list (more SEO maybe?) to Alpine Elements UK, did my sagging hopes for ski travel pull our of a nose dive. This site has some promise, as you can see by the screenshot. (no we do not work for them, but I will write their CEO when I am done with this article).
A handy dandy page Skiline put up showing relative resort prices, is in fact a big help for those skiers who are more economically focused. Regardless of more complex comparative tools, Skiline has hit on a simple filtering solution here. Or should we say, refocused on one, humans tend to be pretty quick at picking choices from such lists. Aside this little tidbit though, I see no huge reason for a press release by the company. Launching 5 year old technology, same-similar content and offers, this seems like bad PR to me (and we should know). Regardless, with such a weak niche, I cannot say I blame Skiline. Looking at the traffic metrics for these sites too, it’s clear none of them are taking the lion’s share of Winter vacation business. It looks like Google may have to launch “Google Slope Finder” soon.
I will leave off plugging Alpine Elements UK a bit, just for the sake of rewarding decent online engagement. As for Skiline? You might as well switch to their service, rather than hang with the other online contingent mentioned. Suffice it to say, with a budget, anyone with some ingenuity could take over this space. Why am I being so rough, you ask? The snowboarder deserves a bit more for their dollar, pound, euro, or peso, that’s why. Spend some coin on content, and save up for the press releases guys.
Google slope mashup, courtesy the author and boolve