Understanding websites

smarttourismwebsite

Your options are only limited by your budget.

Budget refers to your cash investment and your time investment. Both are covered in each point below.

A basic website

A basic website should not cost you more than $2000 if you already have basic design ideas.

$2000 should get you at least:

  • Web development (separate from design)
  • hosting (on a server – where your website is saved and served up to the internet)
  • a domain name
  • a basic feature or two, like a shopping cart or a calendar
  • professionally written content (text)
  • a content management system, i.e. a lay-person’s tool for changing website text

Consider professional design and website copywriting costs if you want the site to be great.

For more detail on the basic requirements of a website, click here (link to How to Make A Website in 5 Easy Steps)

A workhorse website

Invest in your website like any other employee – with purpose. It should give you great return on investment. Don’t let it stand around doing nothing! Give it something to do.

A website can;

  • answer all your frequently asked questions in a few paragraphs. Imagine the time you’d save without all those calls and emails!!
  • Take booking information
  • Check availability (often through a third-party system)
  • Sell for you
  • Represent you to relevant media

…and much more. If you knew 10,000 people would visit your site tomorrow… what would you want to say to them?

A website that’s a full scale marketing event

Marketing is about opportunity. Your website is an opportunity to demonstrate your value to your ideal customer. Your website could include;

  • option to sign up to a newsletter or event reminders
  • a calendar of events
  • automatically confirm booking details
  • analysis of your customers
  • analysis of the site’s visitation – how long they stayed, how they got there (free)
  • fun stuff for your target audience
  • customer participation – in forums, feedback, testimonials, and more
  • cross-promotion with companies in related fields
  • articles: for genuine entertainment, or as part of your sales funnel
  • relevant industry news
  • photos from previous customers
  • opportunities to contact previous customers

Any part of the marketing mix can be translated online.

Add in any of the following.

Keep in mind that you’re better to have no blog than a boring one. A calendar of events with only some of your events is useless. Carefully consider the time investment before implementing major features.

An RSS Feed

An RSS reader lets you see new information from all your favourite sites in one spot. If you, as a business, have information to keep up to date with, you can create an RSS feed.

An RSS feed is any blog style page that is set up so updates are noted on RSS readers. You update this information, and subscribers are aware you’ve updated.

The cost of setting up an RSS feed should be small and once-off.

Booking availability

An instant availability system is a great idea. There is no point having a website unless it solves a problem for your customer. Instant availability is often everything they want.

There are standard availability packages available. Get your developer’s opinion, but keep in mind they may want to sell you one themselves.

A shopping cart and payment gateway

Shopping carts should be cheap and easy to implement. Basically the cart will log your prices and conditions for each product. When products are selected, you’re taken to a payment gateway.

Secure payments are created by checking your existence with a real bank. Once you’re confirmed as human, not a scamming machine, you’ll have a login. This information is used by your developer to attach a secure payment gateway to your website.

A blog or forum

What kind of blogs do you keep up with? If the answer is none, it might be a waste of time writing one. Blogs are useful for specific audiences with specific needs.

A restaurant may benefit from a blog – upcoming classes, farmers’ market updates, what’s hot in cooking. Skydiving companies, who’s customers return only years later, would be wasting time with a blog.

Forums should only be created if you’re dedicated to a public conversation. The Caravan And Camping Association’s forum is for regular caravanners and campers. Forums are personal – ‘where’s the best food in Penguin, Tas?’. Questions are answered by other frequent visitors.

Good forums are genuine communities, in which patrons trust each other’s advice. Popular ones need regular upkeep, censorship and management of user issues. Unpopular forums often have unanswered questions and uninteresting ‘threads’ (conversations).

If your customers have plenty of interesting things to talk about; and if you are willing to manage their logins and behaviour – build a forum! It’s just another page on your site with a certain physical attributes. It is a templated piece of code to put in a site, so it shouldn’t cost much at all.

A calendar of events

A calendar of events is relevant for spaces that provide varied activities. It’s most relevant if your customers search for activities by day, e.g. ‘Victor Harbour Saturdays’

Markets with varying features or musical acts warrant a calendar. Comedy nights run all over the city on different days warrant a calendar.

Providing Tour A Mon-Fri and Tour B on weekends does not warrant a calendar.

Remember that all of the above are useless if they don’t lead to sales.

Your content (text) is key. Make sure visitors are fascinated with what you have to say, and have a ‘call to action’ available at all times i.e. a phone number or booking facility.

Australian Voice can build a website fully responsive website for you for $2000. We give you a handover document with everything you need to maintain the site yourself.