Website essentials for tourism businesses (and most other businesses too!)
1. Put a LOT more information on your website people! A tonne. There's no cost-per-word to add more content. At the bare minimum, ensure everything about your own facilities and services are there. One new-ish and quite flash golf resort we visited neglected to have on their website that there was a day spa. Ah, do you think that's not something guests might like to know, especially golf widows such as this one?! Talk about an obvious missed opportunity. I only knew in advance because I called and asked in December when I booked - and by March they STILL hadn't updated their site.
On top of the sites that omit information, there's the sites that just give you the bare minimum information - when what they could be giving you is a whole bunch of enticing tourist information that makes their AREA/TOWN worth visiting. Don't just tell me about your B&B - tell me why I should stop in your town and not the next one. Where can I eat? Is there anything to see, like a walk or a great beach? It's your job to convince me of the value of your town, not just your accommodation.
2. Reviews. Tell me what OTHERS thought about your accommodation/tour/service/food. I want to know that you aren't the only one who thinks it's great. Otherwise, I (and others like me) will just head to a site like Trip Advisor, where you will have a whole lot less control over what is posted about your or your business. You could even include an "online guest book" (using a free form tool like Wufoo) to capture comments as visitors leave, then publish them every week or two to your own site.
3. Make sure the information is accurate. Mona, a FABULOUS new gallery out the outskirts of Hobart I can highly recommend, had apparently changed the ferry times to reach the site WEEKS before the date we visited...but had not changed it on their website! So we show up to catch a ferry that's going half an hour later and coming back half an hour earlier than we'd planned. This threw out our plans a bit and meant we had to drive so that we wouldn't miss it in the time we had available. If you've built a useful, functioning website, changing something like ferry times should take 15 minutes tops...and ensure there's every chance people will get to your attraction.
- Most bookings are handled online - so automate an email (or do it manually) to THANK people for visiting. Tourism is a very worth of mouth business. Do something a little extra and watch the good word spread like wildfire.
- Work together with traders in your community to make something unique about your town. I loved that the tiny town of Sheffield was "the town on murals". Someone had to think of that, co-ordinate it - and now they have created a reason for people to stop in this teeny spot.