I remember back in 1996 when I started covering the "ski scene" I created what I thought at that time was a pretty decent ski website. The name was Ski North Carolina but I didn’t even really know what a good domain name was. The website’s URL was Appnetsite.com/skiing.htm. I didn’t even have our own company domain name at that time. I created a couple of pages covering Beech, Sugar, App and Hawksnest. Perhaps a whopping 10-15 people a day were tolerating my blabber.
During that 1996-1997 offseason I purchased GolfNorthCarolina.com and the idea hit me that I should also buy SkiNC.com, SkiNorthCarolina.com and whatever else I could think of that would enable me to better identify our tourism related products with our audience. The following ski season I branched out to cover all of the North Carolina ski areas and I remember being astonished when our simple page counters tallied a couple hundred "visits" a day. Of course those counters went up by one each time I visited the page too, so "visitors" were probably still in the 100 a day range. My thinking was "Wow, I have 3000 or so people a month interested in what we’re posting."
By the end of that season I was bragging about what I could only speculate was maybe 300 visitors a day. I began to get emails from "all over the region" from fellow skiers and the few snowboarders that were following the site. (There were not that many snowboarders on the snow at that time.)
Within a few years I hooked up with Joe Stevens who basically shared that he loved our website and was following it from his post at Snowshoe. He hinted that I should expand coverage to all of the ski areas of the region. By that time we were thrilled with our visitor numbers which were in the 100,000 a month range. Of course stats packages came along to reveal how many people were online at anytime reading which pages, etc.
As our audience grew, so did our rankings. Of course there was no "Google" when we started but we were already gaining top rankings via Infoseek (a major search engine player at that time), Yahoo, AltaVista, etc. I began to field questions from people who did simple searches via the search engines like "snow skiing" where they’d find our website ranked in the first few . Their emails were always things like, "Ski resorts in North Carolina? You’re kidding me, right?"
That kind of outreach and growth of audience and affiliations with people like Stevens has soared our visitor numbers to 3-5 million visitors a year over the last few seasons. All from appnetsite.com/skiing.htm!
I think that with the right resources and staff we could offer and do so much more, however I think we’ve done an admirable job of educating our audience of just how cool and great skiing and snowboarding in the Southeast and MidAtantic are. We’ve taken the Southeast ski and snowboarding scene to the world and as such we’ve seen an increase each year in the number of television station meteorologists that talk about us, use and contribute to our content.
We’ve also seen emails and phone calls coming from all over THE WORLD inquiring about the area. Of course the web cameras have done more to sell the area than most any amount of words we can type. In the last few years I’ve heard from citizenry from Ireland who relate how much this area reminds them of their neck of the woods. Just yesterday I received this email from John Donelly of Jindabyne, NSW, Australia who asked, "Hi, Can you please advise of the top 3 places to ski in your area for an advanced alpine skier. I will be in your area for work in late March and would like to catch a few ski days if snow conditions are favourable. Thanks John."
Of course I am not certain exactly WHICH AREA John plans to visit so answering him would be a little like me writing him that I’d be "in his area" which could be anywhere from Queensland to Alice Springs which are only 400 miles apart. The cool thing is that we get these kinds of requests to a website that started with perhaps ten visitors a day with me, my mom and perhaps a friend or two making up half of those visits.
Only in America baby. Only in America.
Feel free to drop me an email from wherever YOU call home at [email protected]