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Designing an effective website for your tourism business requires strategic planning and a decision at a corporate or organizational level to use the internet to achieve specific objectives.
Choose a reputable developer and look at their past portfolio of sites. Discuss what you are looking for in advance. Share ideas and get their professional input. A good designer will translate what you are looking for into appropriate applications and management systems. Emphasize what will the site do for you and which elements of your business will be online. Agree what the site will be able to do and what it will not.

Unless your business is very small or you have little or no interest in online promotion- your site should not be a static off the shelf design that cannot be updated directly by your organization. You will need a Dynamic XML site with self-management capability.

You should aim for a website that is:
• Content Driven
• Right mix of content- Practical and Inspirational
• The Three Easies: Easy to find, Easy to Access, Easy to use
• An Interactive experience
• Has Web 2.0 integration
• Adds value from 3rd party services
• Credible
• Frequently and accurately updated

Map out your site structure and content in advance, and create a site map that charts a users path through the site. Make it as easy as possible to move within the site in a natural and intuitive way.
Your site map will not be linear, but will resemble a flow chart. Always be sure that the user has plenty of easy to understand options and can always access the information they need, and has options to change their mind, go back or use a search tool. The final stage of your customer journey should be a conversion- either to a sale, further enquiry or registration.

Be sure that you agree in advance how the website will be managed and by who. A website should not be managed by an IT department- as the staff do not handle marketing, PR or business functions. Your site is the public face that your company is presenting to the world. Ask yourself- if a potential client visited your offices looking for information, would you refer them to your IT staff to assist them? Your website should be managed by the staff who are directly responsible for the functions and content included in the site.

Dynamic Websites are driven by Content Management Systems (CMS) which run on top of database repositories. They provide easy to use and intuitive tools to help you manage your own website. CMS systems let you update your website reliably and quickly. They provide ‘Room for Growth’ – as your organization grows, your website can be easily expanded to cater to new requirements, services and needs.

Most use a simple WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET (WYSIWYG) editor that provides simple management controls including Word style tool bars for editing page content, and simple folder systems to manage pages and databases of content. For a larger site with large volumes of content or interactive features, a dynamic site that allows multi-user delegation by a central editor is recommended. This means specific people within the organization can be given the responsibility of editing and managing their relevant sections, while the main editor retains overall control.

Use your CMS and database to commoditize your products, and create interactive experiences and if possible, booking functions. Integrate the website into your reservations and accounting systems to streamline your travel distribution. Explore access to the GDS and other distribution channels and allocating rooms or space to online intermediaries.
Once your site is up and running, run regular tests and analyse your user stats and traffic reports.
• Trial your download speeds, search engine ranking, check the links are active
• Get reliable accurate statistics and make informed decisions to change your site
• Are people accessing your site then leaving via their BACK key?
• Learn to read your stats- focus on unique visits and page impressions, rather than ‘hits’.
• Study user behaviour
• Have them subscribe and register where possible
• Monitor your user Feedback and use stats to lobby your management and demonstrate return on Investment
etourismfrontiers E-Tourism Frontiers Resources
Staying ahead of the game in the dynamic world of e-tourism can be a real challenge, especially for those of us in emerging markets. E-Tourism Frontiers aims to provide tourism and ICT professionals with the resources and guidance they need to succeed online. The material in this section is a general overview of the topics covered and resources provided in our training courses.

To gain full understanding and make maximum use of these resources, join on of our training seminars, which provide attendees with intensive hands training in online sales, marketing and management skills for both destinations and tourism companies. Our trainers are experienced professionals with extensive experience working in online tourism around the world, including first hand experience of working in emerging markets. We use live demonstrations of working websites and technologies and will give you the skills, resources and support to begin making changes to your business and use the web to improve your organization and business. For full information on our training seminars please see our training section.

The following is a basic overview of the topics that we cover, complete with more information and advice on each area:
What Does Social Media mean for Tourism?.
Online Travel Trends.
Social Networking and Travel.
Travel Social Networks.
New Technologies for Tourism.
Tourism eMarketing.
Destination Management.
Customer Relations Management (CRM).
Gathering Customer Data.
Email Marketing.
Website Design & Management.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Web Content.
Content Management Systems.
Online Advertising.

E-Tourism Frontiers is a global programme to develop online tourism in emerging markets around the world.
Our aim is to open the developing world’s tourism trade to the world of online travel distribution and marketing- a sector in which the region has been left far behind- with very little inventory available to the online travel shopper. This situation threatens the sustainability and diversity of Tourism and the communities and environment that it supports.
We hold pro-active business driven conference events and training seminars featuring leading online tourism companies, experts and trainers- as well as regional road-shows targeting the travel trade, destination managers and National and regional tourism offices in all emerging markets, including the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

The success of our events speaks for itself and is changing the way both the public and private sector do business, manage their resources and market themselves globally, and creating new business relationships with leading international players and technology providers. We work with a range of major international sponsors to be sure that these events are of the highest international standards, as well as accessible and affordable to the complete spectrum of tourism players, including Small to Medium Enterprise (SMEs), Community and Eco-Tourism projects.
Our sponsor partners to date have included major global brands includingMicrosoft, VISA, Safaricom, Vodacom and Coca-Cola and many more together with regional tourism and ICT authorities. Our events have been attended and opened by Ministers and Vice Presidents- and attended by a diverse range of tourism players, from Multinational CEOs to University tourism students.

This article is quoted from E-TOURISM FRONTIERS.

The article is uploaded by Majbritt Magnussen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’. Please join the online Views On Tourism network and discussion group in order to achieve personal goals as well as encourage a sustainable tourism development in Bangladesh and South Asia. Read more about this group and how to become a member here.

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Posted in Africa, Americas, Asia, Asia Pacific, Best practice, BRIC, Caribbean, Central America, Customer opinions, Development, East Asia, Education and qualification, Europe, IT, Market knowledge, Middle East, N11, North Africa, North America, Northeast Asia, Oceania, Performance and management, Sale and marketing, South America, South Asia, Sub Saharan, World.

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