How much is a chance meeting worth? In this case, well over $1 million. When I first started at Trendwest, I noticed the website was woefully inadequate. Taking my concerns to the creative director, I told him my ideas for a new site, big images, multiple points of entry, focal points, all the information a customer needs in one place. He liked what I had to say and put me to work. I already had quite a bit of experience designing, building, and running various sites, so I knew what to do. First, always, research. Listen to the customer, find out what they want. This meant sitting in on customer service calls, getting input from the marketing team, and calling around to the resorts to talk with sales agents. With all of the information I gathered I was able to build out the taxonomy, get some wireframes going and I began work with the designers and developers.
As the site was taking shape, I went out for a sun break and ran into a guy named Shawn. Turned out he'd just been hired to oversee internet sales. I told him I was building the website, and asked him what he needed. He told me he needed something above the fold, that would get people to call him. Within a day, I had the concept for Ask Shawn and with Shawn's approval, incorporated it into the website. That chance meeting resulted in over $1 million in sales in the first year of the site, and the single largest sales (over $100k), in the history of the company.