The following information is from the criteria set out in the TourismTechnology.com Website Assessment
Section I – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Create page titles of keyword descriptions for each page of the website. Limit to 65 characters and remove text that is not considered a keyword for the page. The business name is not required in the page title – what’s more important is using keywords that users may search to find you. Page titles can be a string of keywords, a short descriptive sentence or a short heading. Page titles are important because search engines like to see the page title, keywords, page description and content all match.
Page descriptions should be concise (25 words or less) and include keywords and phrases. Create short, unique, page descriptions of keywords for all pages of the website. If there are no page descriptions, when the website comes up in a search engine such as Google, Google pulls a random sentence from the website to describe the page. You want to make sure the page description tells visitors information about what they’ll find on that particular page. This is an opportunity to customize a page description so when the website comes up in a search engine, visitors know exactly what information will be found on the page.
Consider adding in links to other websites for activities, festivals and events around the area. Make sure to check periodically to make sure the links work! Establish reciprocal links from highly relevant websites to your own. Make sure the links are to up-to-date quality websites. If you are recommending links then they reflect upon you.
TripAdvisor: Trip Advisor is the world’s largest travel site with over 75 million impartial reviews and photos on hotels, attractions and vacations. Many people use Trip Advisor as a way to plan a vacation and check before choosing a hotel or B&B to stay at. If you’re providing great service – customers will write great reviews, enticing other’s to stay with you! Add as much information as possible in the description such as the hours, is it a seasonal property, room rates, etc. This way, visitors don’t have to go looking for the information. There’s no contact information on the Trip Advisor listing! Therefore, if someone was interested in staying after seeing the listing on Trip Advisor there’s no way (phone or email) for them to get ahold of you. This is a large opportunity missed. Add contact information onto the listing and consider working with Expedia, Booking.com or other discount sellers to be able to book online directly from the Trip Advisor listing.
Respond to the good, the bad and the ugly reviews. If there’s a negative review make sure to always respond in a timely manner. Sometimes the acknowledgement and apology for a poor experience at the property can be the difference between a customer staying angry or resolving their problem. It’s not about hiding the bad reviews, but showing that you care about visitor experiences and want to rectify the situation.
NovaScotia.com: This official Nova Scotia Tourism website receives a large amount of traffic, therefore being listed on the website will help drive traffic to your website. Besides the regular listing information, consider adding pictures of the property to the listing. Make sure information is always up-to-date and packages and/or events are added.
In order to be listed on NovaScotia.com your accommodation must meet certain standards to obtain a license as outlined in the following links:
Section II – Website Structure
A tool bar should be located at the top of the page. It should stand out and be clear for visitors where to click to find the information they need.
A page footer should be located at the bottom of every page – clearly separated from the page content.
Include the following information within the footer:
o Text version of site navigation (the sitemap).
o Contact info, full address, email, phone and fax number.
- Have a unique domain name for the website
- Add high quality, large, bright pictures of the property, scenery, views from the property, the hosts, the restaurant, food and guests enjoying themselves at the property.
- Is there a history of the property? Tell the story of who the hosts are and how they came to own the property. Having a picture of the hosts and telling their story will make people feel more comfortable when they book. They’ll feel like they “know” the host before they get there!
- A video on the website would be great. Maybe a video giving a tour of the property or the area. People like to look at pictures and watch short videos to get a feel for an area.
- Google Analytics www.google.com/analytics. track visitor behaviour with Google Analytics is a great (free!) tool to tell you the facts about your website. How many people are visiting the website? How long do they spend on the website? Where are the visitors from viewing the website? What pages are they going to? Are they being referred to your website from another website? These are all important questions you need answered to you can see what visitor behaviour is in order to improve the website function. This isn’t something to look at daily but a monthly review would be beneficial.
Section III – Website Content
The following are 10 website criteria derived from a consumer survey conducted through an initiative of The Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership (ACTP), comprised of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the four Atlantic Provinces, and the four Atlantic Region Tourism Industry Associations. called ‘Strategic Plan to Raise On-Line Readiness of Atlantic Canada SME Sector’
- The website must look professional, yet not too sterile or corporate. The respondents want to be able to experience the ‘personality’ of the accommodation.
- Incorporate a simple navigation system with key tourism naming protocols for ease of use and researching for the user. Showcasing a summary of features particular to the location or the accommodation will also improve the user experience.
- The homepage should have a direct link to packages and deals.
- Links to local information restaurants, shops, night life…help sell the location and confirm the booking.
- Good photography will make or break a booking. Photos are a trust-building mechanism. They allow consumers to book with an informed opinion of what the destination looks like.
Photos that flatter the destination will compel more consumers to book. Photos that do not flatter the destination will compel consumers to look elsewhere.
- Respondents want to see pictures of various aspects of the property including bedrooms, kitchen and dining room, washrooms, exterior of building, grounds and nearby attractions.
- 360 degree videos of the bedroom, the building and the grounds is a desired feature within the website.
- A Weather Network summary box and link would be a thoughtful addition as would a link to mapping, for example Map Quest (or GoogleMaps), for driving directions.
- In terms of structuring the site, respondents would rather scroll down a page than attempt to access information that isn’t intuitively found beneath several layers of links. They would like to avoid ‘digging’.
- Respondents would like the ability to determine availability online before booking an accommodation.