Technology is changing the game when it comes to today’s traveler. With all the ways Google is getting your site visitor to what they are looking for faster and easier without you – whether that’s to be inspired by incredible imagery of a view never before seen, answering a question about a location on the spot or to actually show flights and hotels directly – what’s the travel industry or a DMO to do to make sure they and their digital experiences are not only found by a potential visitor but used by them… And ideally used over and over.
Since for a DMO, the goal is to promote a location to influence visits and ultimately multiple night stays, how can you do that when people are finding what they need directly on the SERP page or being inspired directly in social media? Well, for one thing, you stop worrying about it and you let them.
Your Website Needs More
Your image-laden, beautiful and dare I say inspirational website is no match for a user looking for a specific thing. They want it now and want it fast and they will go where they know and enjoy going and that’s places like Instagram and Google. Initial vacation inspiration is often spotted in social media. That’s typically where people look for it. Instagram, Pinterest and even can really bring on a sudden feeling of FOMO.
Unless your website pages are giving away free Amazon gift cards to every visitor who stops by, it’s likely not going to be the place they will end up going to first and revisiting again and again. It doesn’t happen anymore. Just accept it. After all, you do the same thing. Why would you expect others to act differently?
“There is no linear conversation anymore. The web is well… A web and people will navigate it as they see fit based on their experience and choice.“Me 😉
Whew! Glad we got that out of the way!
Don’t get me wrong, your website absolutely needs to have incredible images and immersive video of all the amazing hot spots in your destination and your posts should all have them. But it is going to need more to compete for actual clicks. So what can you offer that will not only lead a person to your website but keep them coming back?
At the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau we came up with a complete experience platform that we felt would help people in all stages of the journey, even on the ground once they arrived. It’s still in development, but it’s something not found in any other site today and the elements we are putting together have already shown through surveys and usability testing to have great value to users.
Helping Travelers Through Data
Using what you learn from a person through offered information and behavioral data is truly table stakes for business these days. Travelers are no different. They want you to know them and show them what they would be interested in. (I’m not going to go into the “content in context” thing here. You already know it. It’s been around for ages now. But, if you need a refresher, check out Hub Spot for a great many articles on how to utilize data through marketing automation to help drive engagement and sales.)
What I’m talking about is knowing your user and developing tools to help them throughout the journey. Here are just a few potential opportunities with today’s technology:
- Personalization with algorithms to help showcase other things they might like
- Shareable drag and drop itinerary builders
- Webapps that allow users to look at the things they were most interested in seeing and doing while in the destination
- Geo-location based push notifications while they are in the destination, of nearby things they showed an interest in – with coupons or specials thrown in
- Walking directions via Google maps
- AR and VR mapping to immerse the visitor in the location even deeper
Learn from Others, But Be Yourself
Now think of your destination and what may help a potential traveler. I’m sure you can come up with a lot of ideas that are specific to your location’s unique charm. You aren’t going to get anywhere following others, so don’t just run to the nearest big DMO website and copy what they are doing. It may not be right for your visitor.
Think about what your users want or can use to make their visit easier to plan or how to help them have more fun or make the trip easier. The exact details are going to change depending on where you are, but the underlying needs and wants will be the same. Then do some prototyping and testing to see how people react.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a big (or any) budget for testing, use friends or family from other areas of the country to test. There are also a lot of online crowding testing you can do for minimal cost. See what works and doesn’t. It’s an easy entry with a fast fail so if it doesn’t work, you can go into the next idea.
Technology is changing daily and it’s finally caught up to the travel industry. You could even say it’s taken off. Don’t be left on the tarmac.