Best practices for tourism websites

Destination organizations are challenged with providing great information online in an era of information overload. In addition to providing great information, destination websites are also charged with demand generation, driving traffic to partners, engagement and capturing interested users.

Tourism websites

Tourism websites should not be just brochures. They need to engage users, measure that engagement and build a base of followers and advocates to make future promotional efforts easier.

Partners also play a role in tourism and destination websites. Beyond the confines of the destination, partners and their offers will need representation within the website most likely. These partners may include: hotels, theaters, tourist attractions, natural areas, fishing, games, restaurants, sports, bars, night life, activities, etc.

Best practices

  • Intuitive and attractive design – The design of the website is important. The website needs to be easy to navigate. It should be highly visual. And, the website should have the right balance between simplicity and enough information–yes this balance is achievable.
  • Slideshow tour – Give a sense of what it is like to be there. Try incorporating media: photos, videos, or sound to make the destination come to life. Media is very important to both the user experience and likelihood for a user to share the website with family and friends.
  • Helpful, entertaining and sharable content – Tourism websites should adopt an Inbound marketing strategy. Use laws of attraction rather than disruption marketing to build advocacy and interest. Content is at the heart of Inbound methodology–content that is remarkable. If a tourism or destination organization takes this method to hearth, users will become advocates–helping to share, link to and engage with the brand and website.
  • Trip Planner – Visitors to the website should encounter really useful trip planning tools that will build appeal, simplify the planning process and help promote quality partners. Make it easy for users to save their trip plans and share them.
  • Social sharing tools – Those little, colorful buttons that allow visitors to post to Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. can be great assets for marketing the destination and website.
  • Social following tools – Offer clearly visible social following tools to help users connect with your various social media presences. If your organization is trying to decide on how many social media accounts to use, take a fresh look at your current efforts, analytics and resources. Limit your account use to only those accounts that you can use and monitor for conversations, issues and brand mentions. The size of your team and whether you have a marketing agency will be a factor.
  • Blog – A brand or organization blog provides your marketing team more freedom to create a wider variety of content. Content is key for organic search rankings, as well as being central to Inbound marketing strategy.
  • Google+ or Facebook login – Consider using social media API login functionality to make it easy for users to save their trips and establish accounts with the website. Google+ or Facebook login will reduce the barrier of entry for the account creation process. Also, by tapping into these social logins, you can leverage the social platform to build advocacy through content sharing, recommendations and commenting.
  • Destination and attraction maps – Having a map to help connect users to attractions is beneficial to all stages of the customer journey–from fantasizing and planning to the trip itself to afterwards. Maps can also be a powerful tool for partnerships.
  • Ability to easily bookmark attraction maps for mobile – Users will appreciate having the ability to bookmark, save or easily access destination or attraction maps on their mobile devices. Depending on budget, there are many options for such maps. One option could be a static, image map or PDF download with a list of addresses, websites and phone numbers. Another option could be an interactive online map–perhaps one built using Google or Bing’s API. Another option could be a mobile, offline, interactive map for users on-the-go.
  • Mobile strategy – Mobile is hugely important for consumers at all stages in the decision-making process–planning, trip and after. About half of all emails are open and read on a mobile device.  A mobile strategy should certainly include email, but also other web touchpoints. We highly recommend a mobile responsive website–a website that adapts and automatically changes based on the device-type accessing it.
  • Wifi accessibility with public wifi access – list or map mode of publicly accessible wifi hosts. Great options are cafes, parks or public spaces that support free or low cost wifi.
  • Press room – Ability to distribute news and updates should be included within the website. Don’t forget to include a media kit, reference links and perhaps some historical context to help bloggers, journalists and potential partners.
  • Business resources – Many destinations may need to support business travelers. Consider building a business traveler section, complete with accomodations, wifi access points, great public places for meetings, private/rentable meeting places and other points of reference for a wary business traveler. Depending on budget, this could be a list or map.

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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.