By Martin Kelly, Editor, Travel Trends

The good, the bad and the ugly – that’s the verdict after a quick wintry blast through Australasia’s alpine resort websites, now among the most popular on the web as snow fanatics go online for their daily fix.

Thredbo: This is a good site that makes great use of images and video. It has a clean splash page that only gives users the information they want: snow report in video and print, rotating snow cam images, weather report and an accommodation booking engine. Further info through an uncluttered menu bar running down the left column. www.thredbo.com.au  

Mt Hotham: Bizarrely, has two websites, each with a different look and feel  – www.mthotham.com.au and www.hotham.com.au. Both promote as ‘The Official’ guide/website to Mt Hotham’. In addition to confusing consumers, each competes against each other for rankings in Google. They look ok, in fact one of them is stylish, but I can’t get past the nonsensical approach.

Mt Ruapehu: Best of the NZ sites by a country mile, makes you think it’s a cool resort with great skiing and boarding – surely the primary aim. All important information front and centre, including lots of photographs, web cams and daily video updates. On the day I visited, the video report was from a Swiss groomer driver, an interesting perspective. www.mtruapehu.com   

Falls Creek: Basically a pretty good site that unfortunately gives a prime piece of real estate over to advertising resort stuff, such as the Kangaroo Hoppett (a race), that the majority of people wouldn’t be interested in. This slot is full of moving flash images and type, totally distracting the user from the information that matters – snow and weather forecasts. www.fallscreek.com.au  

Mt Buller: A good site with the key information up front. Visuals used well with plenty of web cams plus a video snow report. www.mtbuller.com.au  

Perisher Blue: Not a bad site overall, with snow info front and centre. Good use of snow cams but integrity of splash page hurt by cheap looking advertising. www.perisherblue.com.au  

Cardrona: This is an ugly site from a ski resort that has historically paid little attention to branding. For years Cardrona had a logo resembling the old Lifesavers wrapper. That’s gone but the look and feel is still amateur. Thankfully, there are a few cams so people can get a feel for what’s happening on the mountain. www.cardrona.com

Treble Cone: The website is clean and functional, but lacks colour and excitement. The latest news section had a video dated January 14, 2008, while the snow report takes users off site. Not good on either count. www.treblecone.co.nz

Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and The Remarkables (nzski.com): A single, portal site for three different resorts. It doesn’t work. The only entry point to each of the resorts is through the main page. Each resort only has a single page with basic information and one web cam. There’s a ton of other information but none of it easily accessible. This site and strategy has been around for two or three years and needs to be replaced. www.nzski.com  

Travel Trends: July 31, 2008

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