Internet, Marketing, tourism bc

Tourism British Columbia’s approach to international market websites

By William Bakker | 09.25.08 | 2 Comments

Last week was a Milestone week for us. We launched 3 new Asian websites:

We stay true to our user centered approach while supporting a growing number of websites. Our decisions are driven by research; we try not to guess. Turning research results into sounds decisions regarding technology, content and acquisition strategies is where the fun is at.
Our approach to our Asian was no different from our other websites. We worked with in-market specialists, including our staff, who where instrumental at turning this project into a success. Here are some details about our approach to international websites.
Our core technology platform now support websites for our North American, UK, Australian, Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese markets. Our websites are integrated with our Destination Management System that serves as the core of our content management. Product information collected through TourismBC.net is included on all 6 websites.
Information Architecture
We have conducted focus groups, phone interviews, card sorts and/or usability tests to find the best way to organize the content on each website. We start with research about how our target audience in a particular market approach their trip planning; their mental model.
We adjust our taxonomy where needed. For example, in North America a farm accommodation is called a ‘guest ranch‘. In the UK it’s called a ‘cowboy ranch‘ and in Australia a farmstay.
Templates & design
We’ve re-used our templates for HelloBC.com for our other market websites. This is partly because of economic reasons. We don’t have unlimited people and budget. By keeping things consistent, we also make it easier to maintain the templates over time. Content makes a website appropriate for a market. Changing a picture around can have a significant impact. We keep a close eye on things and might migrate into more a distinct look and feel for certain markets if our research tell us to do so.
As I mentioned earlier, all tourism operators who have enrolled in our HelloBC Listing Program are automatically published on all 6 websites.
We also support a large volume of destination information on each website. In order to make this more efficient, we have connected certain pages on our market websites with HelloBC. Even though they might fit someplace different in the Information Architecture, the copy and images are the same as HelloBC. If anything changes on HelloBC, so does the copy on the other websites. There are still areas on each page to publish market specific content. Each website also has disconnected pages. These pages are either unique for that market, or need different copy from HelloBC (the getting to British Columbia page for example)
This is “easy” on our UK and Australian market websites because they are in English. But it’s different for our websites in a foreign language. For these websites we are using the services of a translation partner. Pages can still be connected. But when a page on HelloBC is updated, our content specialist has to option to send a work order to our translation partner. A translator who’s located in the respective country will translate the new or updated content. One of our in-market staff members will approve the copy and publish the new content. It’s fully automated with a work-flow system.
There’s no time to sit still. The 2010 games are just 500 days away and we need to be ready. We kicked off our German website project last week. But that’s not the only things we’re working on. More about other activities soon.

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