Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy Halloween! Want A Chip?

Found an interesting site the other day – Hotel There are several cool elements on this site like soliciting email addresses as a “reservation” to access the site, webcam and microphone integration and overall the site is incredibly creepy (just in time for Halloween). There’s really no direct product pushing so from the user’s perspective it’s pure entertainment. It belongs to Frito Lay, but from a messaging perspective that’s put on the back-burners.

What’s really interesting is the way they handle access to the site. As indicated by the name, the site is only accessible from 6 PM to 6 AM (Hotel 626). Here’s why I think this is a cool idea:

It’s Risky, But Not Really.
Would this approach work for 90% of the sites out there? No, absolutely not. But, I think it’ll work quite well for this one. The reasoning is that it’s risky, but not really. Although it’s harder to access the site, they have technology in place (reservations) that’ll send the user an email when the site opens for the evening. On top of that, they’re effectively weeding out the fickle fly by night users and honing in on the active, engaged market. This brings you closer to your loyalists; and it’ll certainly provide a decent amount of those lost in the branding “grey area” as well.

It’s Breaking the Typical Online Experience.
We all know that the tougher you make your online content to access, the more you become susceptible to increased drop-off, decreased conversion and all the wonderful financial repercussions in between. However, this site’s putting that school of thought on its head a bit. In an environment where users are cynical, have the shortest of attention spans and have more competing entertaining online options at their beckon call than ever, this site tells them to “wait, you’re going to view this site on our terms.” It’s all very reminiscent of the trickle-like release of Nintendo’s Wii and the iPhone.

However, this site’s not directly tied to revenue, which begs the question – what will they do next? It sounds like there’s a product launch coming, in which case Frito Lay will be locked and loaded with a pool full of advocates and otherwise engaged users just waiting to mobilize and ultimately, eat some chips.

As always, time and traffic numbers will bring success or failure, but I’m very interested to see how the product launch goes.

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