Online forms can be notoriously user unfriendly. Often you fill out a long form, and press submit, only to find out afterwards that it didn’t like one of your entries. To make matters worse, the error messages can be so cryptic that it takes a few tries to get it right. Today I finally came across a form that gets it right: the form to sign up for a Starbucks account checks each textbox for errors as you fill it out and displays a check mark as you got it right. And it provides some help with entries, such as the proper format for a phone number. Easy. If all forms only were this straightforward.
Oh, and you get two hours of free wireless for the effort of signing up – and a free birthday drink. A good customer experience all around.
A while ago I talked about the brilliant Queensland “Best Job on Earth” campaign. Here are some stats. Pretty impressive!
Australia leads the way in many tourism initiatives, and they recently released another useful toolkit: the Tourism E-kit. Published by the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse, it aims to help Australian small tourism operators take better advantage of the Web for their business.Although aimed at Australia, the 250-page toolkit would be useful for any tour operator trying to improve their website.
Earlier this year, Ideahatching reported on an article that described how the British travel publisher Rough Guides is using new web technologies to extend its brand reach. Interesting read. Rough Guides is not as well-known as Lonely Planet, and doesn’t have the same reach, but their guides tend to be of excellent quality.
Operators often ask me what they can do to improve their websites. While there are many books and course out there, a couple of my colleagues have recently posted some excellent tips. Cover these, and you’ve gone a long way towards improving your website significantly.
William Bakker from Tourism BC recently posted a series of tips:
And Alicia Whalen from Coupleofchicks Marketing posted a summary of tips from experts at online giants like Google, Yahoo and E-Bay.
If you are interested in getting deeper into online marketing, then be sure to follow my CTC colleague Daniel Vasquez’ blog with regular online marketing tips for the tourism industry.
If you have implemented these tips, you have gone a long way towards improving your website.
The World Wildlife Fund asks the world to make a difference on Saturday March 29, from 8-9PM, by turning off the lights for one hour through its Earth Hour project. The Fairmont Algonquin in New Brunswick is asking its guests to do their part in support of the project. It could just have asked people to turn off a few lights, but I don’t think that would have had a big impact. Instead, it is offering a ghost tour through the historic building at this time (very appropriate!), as well as candlelight dinners. It will also turn off as many lights as possible, replacing them with candles.
Suddenly, earth hour has become a unique experience! A great example of some creative marketing, while supporting a good cause at the same time. The only disappointing aspect of the campaign is that there is no mention of this event on the hotel’s website. A major oversight, I’d say. They should have issues a media release, and added it to their website.
Terri McCullough, the blogger behind the Bay of Fundy Tourism blog, just commented on my posting about her site. She confirms what I mention in my talks about Web 2.0 websites: it is easy and cheap to get on the Web 2.0 bandwagon, even for small tourism organizations and operators. If you are a specialist in your area, then you should be blogging about it!
I gave a presentation on content at the Content Convergence conference last week. The main topic of the day was Web 2.0 websites. While everyone is trying to jump onto the Web 2.0 bandwagon, my argument is that on of the better “Web 2.0″ websites is the one from Nahanni River Expeditions. The only thing it still misses is a blog. The website has a lot of very useful content, incuding pictures, videos and maps of all trips, user testimonials, etc. It’s a great site, and wasn’t even conceived specifically to be a Web 2.0 site. It won the Yahoo! Big Chair award at the E-connect conference in November.
Another good example of a small tourism organization that jumped onto the Web 2.0 bandwagon in a simple but effective way is Bay of Fundy tourism. They started a blog, written by one of their staff who lives right there. It has significantly increased traffic to their site. Great example of a simple way to improve your site.
The Globe and Mail’s business incubator gives advice to small business , on how they can improve their bottom line. Recently, the series featured Vancouver’s BikeHike Adventures, a leader in global multisport adventures. The article provided solid advice that can help any small travel operator.
The challenge: Attract new, younger customers. The plan: Become an industry expert through media outreach. The payoff: A new generation of customers ready to travel.
Their advice in a nutshell:
Become an expert. People browse blogs looking for expert opinions about things that interest them. Start a blog, and become the trusted source of information.
Tell your story. A website has to be more than a lot of text explaining what a company does. Use photos and video to present a realistic picture of what you are offering.
Know your outlets. Every small business owner should have their own list of relevant media publications that cover their industry.
Take advantage of awards. If you receive an important industry designation, make sure you tell people.
Read the full article.