Tag Archives: website

The Do’s and Don’ts of Tourism Websites

By: Kristin Freiburger, BC Hughes Tourism Consulting

Recently I finished planning my honeymoon. I thought looking for a great resort in Ontario would be an easy task, turns out it was harder than expected. My soon to be hubby and I were looking for a resort that offered a range of outdoor activities and cozy accommodations. To my dismay my search turned up very few attractive websites and information was hard to find. This unfortunately had me clicking the back button more times than not.

When booking a vacation, the majority of travellers in this day and age (85% in 2011)[i] use the trusty internet to do their research. This is something operators need to take into consideration. Most of the time a website is the first impression a potential visitor gets. If a website is too busy and photos are subpar, people question what the service will be like.

As a tourism researcher and avid traveller, I visit many tourism websites each day. I’ve seen my fair share of good and bad ones and have decided to share my tips of how you can make your website the best it can be to impress your online customers so they will book with you.

Be Transparent

It is important that businesses feature professional photos of the actual accommodations and activities they offer. Purchasing stock imagery is not good enough. I’ve talked with many travellers and all agree that resorts only showing photos of the town it is located in rather than photos of the resort are hiding something. It’s all about transparency. People want to know what to expect when they arrive, no surprises; unless it’s a bottle of wine waiting for them in their room.

Photo Quality vs. Quantity

Tourists want to get excited about their trip and want to see those epic shots. To give them these visuals, it is essential to hire a professional photographer. Many operators say think professional photos cost too much money. However, they don’t take into consideration that these professional photos could be paying for themselves after a few bookings and will in turn, attract more visitors. Remember your website is a customer’s first impression of your business.

Keep it Simple

Less is more. Keep your pages clutter-free and make information easy find.

Don’t make it a Contact Scavenger Hunt

If you want business, make it easy for your potential customers to contact you. More times than not it feels like a scavenger hunt to find the contact information on an operator website. It is important that every page of the website has both the phone number and general email address visible.

“X” marks the spot

People get very excited once everything is booked. Nothing takes this excitement away more than driving around in circles trying to find the destination. Ensure that your visitors will not get lost or have to spend extra time Googling where you are located. Have a page with a map marking your location and detailed directions coming from different locations. It is also important to include an address that will work when programed into the GPS.  Once on their way, remember that visitors will benefit from wayfinding signage directing them to your location.

Avoid the Guesswork

Many accommodations do not include rates on their webpage. Why not? This saves you and possible customers wasted time. If potential visitors have to phone for prices, they will sometime skip and look for another destination.


My goal for this post is to make your website the best it can be so individuals choose to come visit you. Just having a website is not good enough anymore. People have certain standards and expectations of what a website should offer. If you keep telling yourself you don’t have enough time to do the updates, hire a professional to take care of it for you. Your updated and professional website will pay for itself in the long run.

Kristin Freiburger is the Product Development and Communications Specialist for BC Hughes Tourism Consulting. Having travelled through Europe, Canada and other parts of North America, Kristin understands what tourists are looking for and the importance of creating unique experiences.

[i] Google/IPSOS OTX Media CT US (2011). The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011. http://www.blizzardinternet.com/5459/thinkinsights-travel-research/


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Filed under Best Practices, Tourism Management, Tourism Marketing, Uncategorized

The Google Side of Tourism

Each and every day the internet is changing the way we live our lives. A report was published this week called “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips”. Basically it points out that people are more likely to forget something that they know is readily accessible on the internet.

When I first heard this I started thinking about silly things that I have “Googled” which I probably should have just remembered. The first one that came to mind was making a perfect hard boiled egg. At one point in my life, I knew the timing, and art of boiling a hard boiled egg. However somewhere along the way, I forgot this simple recipe, and I must confess I have Googled how to make hard boiled eggs on at least three different occasions.

The fact is Google (and other search engines) have made finding information so easy that we have begun to use it like an external hard drive for our brains. As DMO’s and tourism operators, it is important to recognize this shift in the way people are finding and storing information and use it to position our destinations in the best possible way.

Recently I went on a hike to Bruce Peninsula National Park. Having never been there before, it was only natural for me to gravitate to the internet for information to help me plan my adventure. I knew there would be a Parks Canada website, and several local tourism organization websites available with useful information… But even typing their website addresses into my URL field seemed like too much effort for me at the time. My brain can type “Google” without even thinking about it, and then by typing in the name of the park, I had over 300,000 websites to choose from in less than 0.16 seconds.

How does your destination perform in a Google search like this?

Like it or not, Google is making the internet smaller and smaller as the amount of information increases ever day. If your website does not rank in the first page of a Google search, it basically does not exist to the average consumer.

Case and point, if you asked me today how to make the perfect hard boiled egg, I could not tell you right away. However, if you gave me 0.29 seconds to search Google’s 3,640,000 results, I could give you this link: http://www.goodegg.com/boiledegg.html …. And I did not leave the first page of results to find it!

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Filed under Destination Marketing, Tourism Marketing