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Planning a tourism web-page

As for all business’ it is important for a tourism company, organisation or association to communicate information efficiently with national and international tourism players and potential customers. A web-page should be a natural part of this communication and therefore be given appropriated focus. At the same time it is important to keep the cost of IT services and manpower at a minimum.

This article will go through the following themes related to the construction and content of a web-page: Domain, Host, Design, Content and Management.

Domain
A domain can be bought online on sites like:
Domain
Buy domains
Register

Prices do not vary a lot among suppliers, but the prices depend largely on the added services and the popularity of last letters of the future web-address (e.g. .com is more expensive than .info).
To ensure that readers can find your business, it is recommendable to buy several domains to guide readers to the main web-page. As an example the main web-page of the Views On Tourism project is www.viewontourism.info, but both domains ending on .com and .net has been bought to increase traffic to the main site.

Host
In order to publish a website online you need a Web host. The Web host stores all the pages of the website and makes them available to computers connected to the Internet.

If you want to publish your own website, you’ll need to sign up for a “Web hosting service.” Finding a good Web host shouldn’t be too hard, since there are thousands available. Just make sure the Web host you choose offers good technical support and ensure little or no downtime. You’ll usually have to pay a monthly fee that varies depending on how much disk space and bandwidth your site will use. So it’s a good idea to estimate how big your site will be and how much traffic you expect before signing up for a Web hosting service.

Design
A successful web-page must have a nice and functional design as well as always updated information. Few readers will visit if the webpage is filled with irrelevant ADs or if the content is difficult to find, slow to download or out-of-date.
The web-design should furthermore include consideration on the data load of the web-page, as download speed in many developing countries, like Bangladesh, is limited. Even though web-page AD’s is a possible income generator AD’s should be held at a minimum to communicate the core company information clearly.

Content
Readers is searching for information when visiting your web-page, therefore you need to put a lot of effort in writing and planning the web-page content. Make a detailed plan of content and categories even before you start planning the layout.
To get some inspiration have a look at the web-pages of similar players in your field – both national and international players. This is not to copy their text, but to get some inspiration on what kind of information and categories to include.

Let me make an example for a national tourism operator association. To get content inspiration I would visit the following sites of international association in the tourism sector:

The Trade Association for European Tourism (ETOA)
Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO)
Pacific Travel Association (PATA)
European Travel Agents & Tour Operators Association (ECTAA)

Below is a list of the categories mentioned in these sites, which is valuable content inspiration for your own web-page.

About
Member List
Premier Partners
News, research and Publications
Facts and figures
Executive Committee
Media
Membership
View Calendar/ events
Policy Areas
Scheme for market development assistance
Important Links
Notifications
Frequent Asked Questions
Feedback
Contact
Email us
Member’s area (requires ID and Password)

Management
The content writing should always be planed and done by people who know their subject – the company owners and staff. The level of ongoing web-page management (new updates) depends largely on the nature of content. If the web-page for example include a calendar function a high level of updates is required.

Except for the content writing, web-programmers and designers can be hired to do the design, management and updating. Out sorting all of these services can end up in pricy solution, especially if you are not realistic about the exact web-page requirements and needs. Furthermore an out sorting solution requires a high level of communication to obtain constant up-date.
Alternative solution of doing all or some of this work by own employees should be investigated; especially for the ongoing web-page management it will probably be cheaper to hire a in-house employee.

Another less pricy and practical solution, which will give your compagny more control of management and design, is by using a content management system (CMS). A content management system for a web site enables non-geeky editors, writers or administrators to add, edit, and delete content on the web site without knowing HTML – the programming language that is used to make web sites. The basic idea is: A template for the web site is created and then some administration tool is used to make words and images appear in that template.

My own blog www.viewsontourism.info is one example of the content management system ‘Word Press’. As I am NOT an IT genius I got some initial help to get started on a template, but after this I have filled in all of my own text. I have full control of the update management and I often make small adjustments on a daily basis.

I do not know all the CMS providers, but if interested do a Google search or have a look at this article on Wolfram.org, which recommend 10 CMS providers as free and easy to use.

Keep you links updated
Keep you webpage alive and useful for your reader by keeping you external and internal links updated.
I recommend Broken Link Checker – a free of cost tool to scans webpages for bad hyperlinks.

This article is written by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’

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Posted in Education and qualification, IT, Performance and management, Sale and marketing.


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