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Help Prospective Visitors Find Out About Your Tourism Attractions

Things are not looking good for municipal budgets in the current economy. Cost- cutting pressures make it difficult for municipal destination marketing organizations to achieve their strategic goals. So it is becoming ever more important for DMOs to assess the effectiveness of their websites and maximize the return on their investments.

Search engine work, social media and advertising will attract prospective visitors to your tourism site, but then how do you convert them to tourists?

Many web visitors are spontaneous leisure travelers looking for ideas. They make navigational decisions in the blink of an eye. Your site needs to incorporate techniques to hold their interest and influence them through their decision-making stages before they plan and book their trip.

This reflects the basic shift that has taken place in the retail role of a DMO website, as we noted earlier in this series (“Attracting Tourists to Smaller Communities,” published June 8 ) – instead of merely delivering information and enabling simple transactions, the site must be a tourism enabler, providing visitors with tools for immediate action.

In other words, a DMO website in today’s unstable economic climate must drive results. It must be designed to inspire your consumers, increase your website traffic and retention rates, and convert shoppers into buyers.

Tactics and Strategies for DMO websites

Easy-to-use software tools added to your existing website can help you to generate more visitors and income. Calendars that are searchable by date and category provide real value to website visitors. Making it easy for visitors to create itineraries, and providing maps to all attractions on the itineraries they create further enhances the value of your website.

Providing advanced searches that let visitors find out about the things they are interested in quickly and easily immediately engages customer attention – which should be your constant objective.

Along with such tactical tools, consider a shift in strategy, if you haven’t done so already. Become a leading industry partner instead of a do-it-all-yourself operation. Work in partnership with your regional tourist industry to enable it to compete effectively and build activity volume.

Engaging Your Tourism Operators

As a first step, make sure you have detailed knowledge of all the tourism assets and operators in your region. Gather the information by surveys and visits, then index it and publish the information on your website by category of offering. As you get to know your operators, encourage them to promote their own business by contributing to the efforts you are making on behalf of the local industry.

Invite the operators to submit information and ideas – words, pictures, video, data, feedback and reviews – to enrich your web content. Give them the tools to self-promote their offerings and events on your site. Many hands make light work and they will do a better job than your department can.

Remember that tourism businesses, restaurants, attractions and events are constantly changing. With a partnership strategy enabled by modern web technology, your site can reflect the changes as they happen because updates can quickly and easily be published by the tourism operators themselves. This relieves your staff of this effort – higher productivity must be a goal as your budgets are squeezed – and opens up possibilities to share costs.

Consider offering tourism operators a membership role in your tourism program. Each can be given a different listing displayed on your web pages and in your search and calendar offerings, depending on their respective membership category. With this strategy, the greater the commitment of your tourism operators, the more effectively they can use your site to convert visitors to tourists.

Converting Website Visitors to Tourists

The content of modern municipal DMO websites should be appropriate to each stage in a visitor’s purchase decision.

At an early stage, visitors are seeking inspiration and emotional benefits and inspiration. A little later, the visitor’s thoughts become more functional, focusing on dates, accommodations, travel logistics and what the practical opportunities are.

It is in the final decision-making stage where your website strategy must produce a return on investment – offering every interactive opportunity to close the sale so that the visitor books reservations and transacts business. With a partnership strategy and the right website design and tools, you can deliver a clear call to action to your visitors and propel them toward the next step of becoming active tourists.

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