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Directories and Itineraries for Tourism Websites

If you are planning how to allocate funds for a tourism website, one of your top priorities should be the creation of a database of tourism assets. It should be the best that your budget can possibly afford.

Tourism Asset Database and Directory

The database holds information that supports directories and itineraries for visitors to find from the home page of your site. The importance of these cannot be overstated.

Why? Because the primary function of a tourism website is not to promote awareness, or merely to tell visitors that your community offers certain tourism products. It is to answer their questions.

Every tourist or tourist group visits your site with personal goals in mind for their trip. Their choice of destination often depends on whether it has specific characteristics that are individually important, such as the availability of vegetarian foods or children’s playgrounds or wheelchair accessibility. They hope – no, they expect – to find such information on the Web and will choose to travel to the place that provides positive answers.

Visitors should be able to search by keyword or by attraction type, by community, address or by any attribute that is specific to a community, such as whether it offers camping or pet-friendly facilities.

This is sometimes challenging for tourism sites that encompass multiple communities within a region. It is a big job to gather data from many sources – but it can be done, if your site is determined to delight visitors.

For an exemplary site you can examine http://www.lcra.org/, the tourism and economic-development site of the Lower Colorado River Authority. It includes information about the Colorado River Trail, a tourism region encompassing 11 counties.

Visitors can click on any one of the 11 counties shown on the home-page map to learn about the unique cultural events, historical sites, attractions and recreational facilities within that county along the Colorado River Trail. And should a visitor type the word “camping” into the search box, 92 responses appear within 0.02 seconds!

This type of performance depends on having a robust database filled with answers to as many questions as you can imagine. How about food, always a favourite question for tourists? To be competitive your site should enable them to easily find out about payment types, restaurant menu styles, accessibility access or other relevant amenities of your community’s tourism food products.

For a good example of how to answer food questions, visit www.banfflakelouise.com, the tourism site for the famous ski resort area of Banff, Alberta. Here you can find 17 pages of information about Banff-area restaurants describing their menus, dress code, hours of operation and other information, including contact e-mails and a button for satisfied diners to click on called “I like this.” And there are photos – including one of the rock band ZZ Top posing with a restaurant owner – that tell visitors at a glance what kind of crowd the restaurant will appeal to.

Municipal Tourism Website Itineraries

Another best practice is to help visitors to your tourism website to create an itinerary of the places they want to go and things they would like to do. The itinerary should include mapping and directions.

An excellent example can be seen at www.welcometostratford.com, the site of the Stratford Tourism Alliance promoting the theatrical centre of Stratford, Ontario. As visitors roam through the very detailed and extensive site they can click on a button labeled “Add to My Itinerary” whenever they see it under business, event and attraction listings.

From any page they can also click on the Plan Your Trip button to view their itinerary as well as listings, maps or other information about the items they have chosen. They can print the itinerary page to bring along as a handy guide when visiting Stratford.

The websites cited here have been built with substantial budgets, to be sure, but they nevertheless embody best practices that can serve as guides to tourism sites large or small. Directories and itineraries are critical to making effective use of the web in providing search experiences for tourists that are informative, interesting and fun.

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