Steamboat Springs If you don't know Steamboat Springs resident Sherman Poppen, log onto Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.'s newly redesigned Web page and look him up.
Poppen invented the Snurfer, predecessor of the snowboard. The fact that you can learn about him at www.steamboat.com is testimony to the content-rich site maintained by Steamboat Ski Area staff. But Ski Corp. executives are more excited by the fact that it's now "no hassle" to find answers to the many questions ski vacationers pose.
"Steamboat has one of the most sophisticated and proven Web-based reservations systems in CORIS - the system on which Steamboat Central Reservations runs," said Andy Wirth, executive vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer for Intrawest. "Booking a mountain vacation can be a daunting task and finding the best deal on airfares, lodging and more can be a complex proposition for many. The outstanding look, feel and functionality of this new site takes the complexity and hassle out of the vacation booking process for our guest. It's truly hassle-free vacation booking."
Steamboat retained TextureMedia of Boulder to assist in the redesign of its Web site, last updated in 2002. TextureMedia clients include Google, Crocs, Pearl Izumi and the Denver Art Museum.
Wirth said the intent was to create a more compelling Web site that was easier for customers to navigate on their way to making a decision to vacation here, to educate guests, and then to book - or even pre-sell - all aspects of a Steamboat vacation.
For example, skiers traveling to Steamboat this winter will receive their lift tickets before they leave home, Wirth said.
"We know the better we do that, the better the vacation is," Wirth said. "To be brand-congruent, you could call it rounding up the herd and delivering it to the corral."
Travelers also can check their flight status at the new site.
Wirth added that across its resorts, Intrawest, which purchased Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. in March, is looking at the ways people are using handheld devices to access the Web while on vacation.
Steamboat's online marketing manager, Chris Gander, said the redesign took into account the most frequently visited pages on the old site and allows content managers to simultaneously update information at many locations across the site.
The most visited pages? People love the live Web-cams and the "picture of the day" page, he said. During ski season, visitors flock to the "Straight Talk" ski report.
"It's amazing how many people live vicariously and stay in touch with Steamboat through this Web page," Gander said. "This is not just an automated e-commerce site. There are real people and a community behind it that you can interact with."
If you're looking for Sherm Poppen, it's hassle free. Click on "Steamboat Life" at the top of the home page, click on "Faces of Steamboat," then scroll down.
Poppen is right below shuttle astronaut Steve Swanson.
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