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Tips Capacity vs Demand: Five Steps to Keep Lift Ticket Sales from Crashing Your eCommerce Store

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photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Jun 11, 2020

COVID-related capacity restrictions at ski resorts are new to all of us. So are the massive spikes in demand that accompany a resort letting a large number of people vie for a limited number of tickets. So far, most resorts are having significant issues with their ecommerce stores crashing under the load. The result is thousands of frustrated guests and a wave of negative PR.

How do you avoid these spikes taking down your store? Here are five steps.

1) Start with Something That Can Scale

This is extremely important. You probably chose your server based on historical demand, but historical demand didn’t have spikes like this. If you’re on Inntopia Commerce, you’re already on a native ecommerce platform that is designed to handle spikes in traffic.

2) Create Products Directly in Your Ecommerce Platform

Next, it’s critically important that the products your customers are shopping for live in your ecommerce platform, not directly in the POS system. Remember, the original purpose of a POS is for taking orders in person. That’s how their databases are designed. So most legacy POS systems simply aren’t designed to handle thousands of people trying to search their database all at the same time.

By creating your products in your ecommerce platform like Inntopia Commerce, the platform – assuming it’s ready to scale (see Step 1) – can protect the POS from spikes in traffic by handling all the product searches.

3) Don’t Touch the POS Until the Order is Completed

Then, ensure that your ecommerce system is only interacting with the POS database when an order is completed. If you’re an Inntopia Commerce customer, check with your account manager to ensure your products are set up this way. When all the POS has to do is handle orders, while there will still be a small spike, it will likely be within the range your POS can handle.

4) Don’t Sell the Entire Season at Once

Demand for one day or one week will be smaller than demand for every day of an entire season. Instead of making tickets available for the entire season at once, stagger availability. If folks want to buy tickets that aren’t yet available, capture their email addresses and the dates they were hoping to buy. This will not only allow you to bring them back as you open up more dates for purchase, but will help identify pockets of high demand so you can better predict traffic spikes as you do. You may want to consider making this a lottery system.

5) Bundle and Prioritize Lodged Guests

Perhaps most importantly, make sure that guests who book lodging can also book lift tickets. If you’ve already sold out lift capacity for a certain day but not lodging capacity, any lodging bookings that happen between now and then will leave you with guests who have a place to stay but nowhere to ski. The best way to do this is by bundling lodging and tickets. Ensure that there is inventory reserved for every room you expect to sell throughout the season.

Free Webinar on Tuesday

We’ll be digging into these best practices and more on Tuesday, June 16 during our next Inntopia Family Kitchen Table webinar. Register for free at the link below:

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