It’s a common issue in the travel industry – weak, ineffective websites that do more to turn people away from you than attract them to you. So, how do you know you’ve got a good website? What elements make people visit, and stay a bit?
First, the most important thing you can have on your website is original content. Way back when you created the website, you had in mind the ideal visitor. You built the site to market to a specific group of people (and if you didn’t, it might be wise to go back to square one and consider that in the design). Consider what sort of information would appeal to your visitors, and create original content that appeals to them. Your site needs to appeal to that market. Write about destinations you’ve visited. Post a review of a particular supplier and their travel product.
Give them information, and refresh it regularly. This is very important – don’t let your website sit there and do nothing. Once you have content up there, you have to add to it to get visitors coming back. It’s like going shopping: how exciting would it be if it was always the same products over and over again, with nothing new coming out? It’d be pretty boring, and so will your website if your content isn’t refreshed frequently.
Going back to design for a moment, it’s important to look at your website through the eyes of your visitor, not through your own eyes. Look at your use of color and graphics. Does it excite you? Make you want to poke around? Use graphics and pictures, but use them well. Each graphic or image should serve a purpose, not be there for the heck of it or because you think it “looks cool.” Get a web designer to assist you, or seek the advice of those who have good websites to help you with this. Before you go public, let some of your existing clients and friends give you honest feedback.
Last, but not least, make it easy for people to find the information on your site. Try to have them use as few mouse clicks as possible to access any part—the rule of thumb has always been that if it takes more than three clicks, they will not stay. If you go to my website, for example, (www.JourneysBySteve.com), 99% of the content is only one click away. This is done on purpose. People don’t like having to hunt for something; they’re more apt to say “the heck with it” and move on to another website. Keep things simple to reduce confusion.
“A Web site is like a diner. It has a core arsenal of dishes that justify its existence, but it also must have a regularly changing specials menu that keeps its regular customers coming back for more. The assumption…is that a Web citizen…visits the site on a weekly, if not daily, basis.”
Have you seen a fantastic travel website? Why not leave a link in the comments?
Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS is a two-year industry veteran with Sunnyland Tours & Travel in Springfield, MO. He holds Lifestyle Specialist designations in Luxury Travel and Gay/Lesbian Travel, and is known for specializing in cruises, Western European tours, group travel, and culinary-themed travel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through his website at http://www.JourneysBySteve.com.