Does your travel marketing strategy for 2014 include a new website? If you are looking to get the most out of your investment it is important to consider the purpose of the site. Different industries have different purposes and because of that it is crucial to consult with a web designer and developer that is knowledgeable in your industry.
Tourism and travel websites have to walk a fine line between being visually appealing while also providing enough information for prospective visitors. More than other industries, these websites need detailed mouth-watering photography and refined functionality to help convert "virtual" visitors into "real" visitors.
In addition to appealing to the senses, the site must function properly in order to be successful. Depending on the goal of your site, this function might be allowing users to browse a calendar of events, search for accommodations or local activities.
Here are some common ingredients to a successful destination marketing website redesign:
- Be on Brand
Your website is still your best opportunity for an authentic brand experience. There has been plenty written about the problem with using leased properties (mainly focused on organic reach) so no need to rehash that here. Your site is an "owned" channel and one of the things that you have full control over.
- Provide Utility
Is your website helpful? Does it provide users the tools they need to find the information they are looking for? For example, are you allowing consumers to search using their own criteria? Check your analytics to see usage of items such as galleries, itineraries, event calendars, and activity searches.
- Be Inspirational
Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and nothing inspires and enhances a story like good photography. Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook have proven the thirst for visual content. "Online business success is largely driven by pictures, not words." - Jay Baer.
- Be Social
54% of users ranked recommendations from friends or family as the most influential when choosing a destination. Work to integrate social media in a way that is meaningful for consumers. See point 3.
- Be Mobile
Mobile isn't something you can ignore at this point, especially when you take a look at "in-destination" consumer behavior. Fifty-seven percent of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, and 40 percent turn to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience, according to Equation Research & Compuware. If your site isn't "responsive", this is a great time to make the plunge.
- Build a Relationship
The average travel research phase is about a twelve week process and over 20 different travel websites are visited before making a booking. Engage your audience through social media, email marketing and tactics such as drip campaigns. Segment your lists. If someone downloads a "family trips" brochure, they are probably interested in family-oriented activities. Don't wait for people to convert, give them a gentle push.
A web designer that understands the tourism industry can effectively balance both the visual aspects of your site while providing function and information. Make sure you offer your online users a trip of a lifetime and hire a web development company that knows the travel and tourism industries.