Improve your own website performanceFollowing on from the recent article “What Tourism Websites Perform Best For You” (18 Feb 2010), how do you make your own website work best for yourself and your tourism business?

Leaving search engine optimisation aside (covered in “Using Meta Tags to Get Your Website Ranking Higher in Google” – 4 March 2010), following
 adage “keep it simple, stupid” isn’t a bad place to start.

SIMPLICITY should be the goal in tourism website design.

Let’s think about what a visitor wants to know, given that they’re looking for accommodation or an activity in your area.

What do you do?
They need to know the standard of accommodation you are providing, or the thrill and spill are they going to experience if they partake in your activity.

Why should they choose you?
Building credibility in your prospective visitor’s eyes is paramount.

How much is it going to cost and how do they book?
You need to give them a price, and ideally they need to be able to book themselves a spot right there and then.

How do they find you?
They need to know where you are in relation to another prospective point on their proposed itinerary, and how to get there.

When it is reduced to its most basic fundamentals, if you can address these 4 basic prospective visitor’s needs, you’re on to a winner of a website, and all you then need to address is search engine marketing and optimisation to get your website out and into the fray.

APPEALING IMAGERY is key to addressing the “What do you do” element. Engaging the right-hand side of the website visitor’s brain – the visual, intuitive, and creative side – is what you should aim to do with the aid of a simple, clean website with appealing photographs and video clips.

Do not use any other background than WHITE or off-white on your website – this shows off your imagery in the best possible light, and this is what is going to sell your product the best.

TESTIMONIALS are a must when it comes to the “Why should they choose you?” question. Along with appealing imagery, credible testimonials should be front and centre. If you’ve got rave reviews on TripAdvisor, get the link snippet to those reviews onto your website at pace.

BOOKING FUNCTIONALITY addresses the third element of the equation. Which booking engine or channel manager to choose is a separate science in itself, and your options are covered by Michelle Ackers’ article dated 30 August 2009, “Online Booking Strategy for Tourism Operators”.

MAPS & DRIVING NOTES are going to make it so much easier for your prospective visitor to find you. Ensure they are downloadable from your website so a visitor can print them out, simply and easily.

In conclusion – keep it clean and simple, make sure you’re website is jam-packed with appealing imagery, make it easy for your prospective visitor to book, and make it painless for them to find you.

Tick all those boxes, and you’re well on your way to getting a website that performs…

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