Most travel agency websites fall on a spectrum with regard to their function and content. At one end of the spectrum, the website’s content revolves around the travel agency and its relationship with clients with very little mention of suppliers or specific travel product. At the other end of the spectrum, the website speaks predominantly to travel product and suppliers, with travel specials, supplier offers and promotions being the central theme of the site’s content.
Most travel agency websites fall somewhere between the extremes of the above content spectrum. As I indicated yesterday, the strategic design of the website should be in line with the core mission of the agency. The agency stressing personalized service will want to gravitate more to the relationship side of the spectrum. The agency with a business plan geared to volume and mass market will more naturally orient their site to the product end of the spectrum. Achieving a balance along the content spectrum in line with the agency’s personality is a key marketing element to consider in any web site plan or re-design.
The design elements of the site such as the layout, the navigation and the format of the content all are determined by the content spectrum. Good websites do not have to be “flashy” or complicated in their presentation. In fact, the best sites are neither. Good designs lay content out for a viewer in a manner that is easy to navigate. The personality of the agent or agency is apparent from the presentation, and sets the expectations of the viewer, indicating clearly the type of experience the client of the agency can anticipate from the agency.
Content on a travel agency site serves at least one of four functions.
- Firstly, good content will attract the viewer to the site.
- Next, the content should be of sufficient interest to hold the client on the site.
- Good content will be a resource for the viewer and induce the viewer to return to the site whenever in need of travel information.
- Content should establish an on-going relationship with the agency.
All content placed on a site should be there with the aim of fulfilling at least one and ideally several of these four functions.
The tone and delivery of the content should take into consideration the audience and the demographic of the target market. A web site’s tone can be dynamic and forceful or warm and humorous. It can be off-beat. Again, however, the tone must be in alignment with the personality of the agency and properly set the expectations of the viewer for the eventual personal encounter with the agency’s personnel.
Decisions have to be made with regard to the format in which content will be presented. For example, will content be in the form of articles, videos, or a blog? Will there be an archive of agency newsletters? Does a search engine for travel specials make sense? What about supplier profiles or reviews of cruise ships or hotel properties? A booking engine? Each decision calls for an evaluation of the strategic objectives of the site and the personality of the agency.
Finally give some consideration to the ongoing conversation with your web site viewers. If your content is of sufficient interest to induce the viewer to request additional information, you have to provide suitable avenues to your front door. Contact information, newsletter sign-ups and blog comments all open the door to an ongoing relationship and need to be readily apparent and easily accessed.