Design is crucial, but there are other key elements to creating great travel websites as well — whether the site is focused on a destination, a tour company, a travel agency, a resort, a hotel, a restaurant, cruise line, or other travel purveyor.
Today I’m going to talk about content, and in days to come I’ll focus on various other elements.
Content: Everything hinges on it. Travelers — and potential travelers — want information first and foremost. It should be clear, accurate and up-to-date. That means professionally written, thoroughly researched, and current.
Professionally written: When you read a sentence — any sentence — its meaning should be clear. It should be free of typos, misspellings and egregious grammatical errors. If a typo occasionally makes it onto your site, fix it ASAP — and that means that someone should be proof-reading it frequently. If your site is littered with typos, misspellings and grammatical errors, the reader is going to get a very bad impression of it, and via that, the destination or company itself.
Thoroughly researched: Double-check your facts. I’m often surprised to find something I’ve believed to be accurate was not. Googling it only takes a few seconds, but can save you lots of embarrassment (like the time I made a passing reference to the coast of Bolivia in a magazine article; Bolivia is landlocked).
Current: How many times have you gone to a travel website and discovered it’s still touting information about events that took place weeks, months or even years ago? When I see something like that — and I see it a lot — that usually leads me to click off that site immediately. Why should I trust anything on it to be up-to-date? Is anyone there minding the store?
I’ve often seen sites with tabs labeled “Blog.” If I click on the blog tab and see the last entry is from 2011, it leads me to wonder whether anyone at the site really cares about the destination or company. Is nothing going on there worth writing about? Then why should I go there or give you my business?
Updated content matters. Not only does it show you’re on top of things, but it keeps people coming back to your site to see what’s new. (They already know what’s old.)
Once you make sure your content is clear, accurate and up-to-date, you can begin to have some fun with it. Make the copy engaging and compelling.
Tell some stories. If you’re a destination marketer, maybe you could write up an offbeat museum or oddball attraction. Put together a “Did You Know…” box about your destination, featuring little-known facts and pieces of trivia. Wangle some tips on what to do around town from one of your local celebrities.
Target certain groups — whether it’s families, gays and lesbians, golfers, art lovers, or, of course, baby boomers — by highlighting activities that might be of special interest to each.
Travel agencies could present profiles of their agents, who then offer behind-the-scenes tips; resorts could profile their chefs or golf pros; tour operators could do interviews with their guides in foreign lands.
Hard up for ideas? Then come up with a list of questions your customers or visitors ask you the most and find ways to feature (and answer) them prominently on your home page, not just in an FAQ section.
And one more thought for creating content: keep in mind that the readers going to your website fall into two camps:
One group has already decided to visit your destination or patronize your tour company (restaurant, hotel, etc) and simply wants to know about things to do there, what your hours are, how much you charge, and so on. Make this information very easy to find, so they won’t go away in frustration and turn elsewhere.
The other group is more elusive: they’re casting about for places to go or companies to take them there, or where to eat or stay or play when they get there. For this group, you’ll need to create alluring content to fire their imaginations and get them thinking in your direction.
More on that in the next post.
Meanwhile, be sure to download my free report, “How to Ride the Coming Wave of Boomers,” available here. It’s all about the best ways to market travel to baby boomers — the biggest-spending group of travelers the world has ever seen. It’s also the easiest way to subscribe to my blog, so you won’t miss a posting. Thanks!