The role of our website is a favourite topic among senior management at Tourism BC and has been for a long time. PhoCusWright’s Destination Marketing: Understanding the Role and Inpact on Destination Marketers flared up another round last summer. I’ll spare you those details but here are some of my thoughts.
PhoCusWright rightfully notes that almost every DMO is different they way they’re structured, funded and organized but that key issues and challenges are very similar. I’ve been talking to my peers around the world for 10 years now and that’s definely true.
And it’s becoming more challenging all the time. Online innovation continues are a rapid pace while a DMO website is now at the heart of all marketing activities. My perspective a user centered one. If you don’t meet your website user’s goals, there’s no hope you’ll ever meet any of your organizational or stakeholder objectives, because your visitors won’t stick around.
One place to start is to figure out where a person’s place is in the planning (or purchase) cycle.
Find out if somebody:
The answer to the question posed above could radically change the approach you should take. If most people are in the first group, they’re looking for a reason to visit. They need to be inspired. Big imagery, videos that connect on an emotional level and experiential stories work really well in this phase. Most DMO websites serve consumers in this phase very well.
But if somebody is in the third group, the role of the website is not to lose the sale. They’re already inspired and motivated. Most DMO websites don’t do very well here. When somebody visits a DMO website in this phase, it probably means there’s just a few nagging questions and they need answers. Details. How long does it take to drive there? How expensive is everything?Is the museum open on Mondays? Is there enough to do for the whole family?
Forget the emotional video and big images. The website can look like Craigslist. They just want detailed information (they could also be looking for a deal by the way, but that’s another poll to run).
PhoCusWright has polled consumers and their report includes valuable information about where consumers say they visit DMO websites in the process. We’ve polled our website visitors about this for a while now and our numbers are a bit different from PhoCusWright’s. This leads me to believe that it might vary based on the destination.
It’s super easy to find out where your visitors are in the process. Poll them. Find out. And use it internally as you discuss the role of your website. And get the PhoCusWight report, it’s worth the money.
One thing I observed with some (most) of the Phocuswright innovators is that a lot of the products demo-ed are (still) conceived and created by engineers. Engineers are brilliantly smart. But most suffer from the “because we can” syndrome. FAIL.
Good products are simple and useful. If you don’t meet these criteria, you will fail guaranteed. Meet them, and you have a shot. They are your minimum requirements.
Take Twitter. Turns out Twitter us useful to millions of people. Twitter is also extremely simple. Post and follow. That’s pretty much it.
Twitter could add categories, replies, forwards, tags, google maps and much, much more. Twitter could allow its users to add pictures, voice messages, video. But they have resisted. Because it would stop being simple. And that’s a big reason why Twitter is successful.
Take Kayak. Kayak is also useful. Kayak is also extremely simple in it’s essence. From->to->dates->search and you’re done. The result page focuses on the core task; find the best flight. Features are optional after the core task is completed. These features are useful in itself, but don’t stop the core task from being simple.
I suggest to all the innovators to hire a product manager who understands this, focuses on the core task that’s being satisfied, and strips everything else.
I’m not at the conference but they’re always high tech at PhocusWright and the videos are posted on their website. Here are my impressions after the 10 minute demos:
I have a few more videos to go. So check back.