How DMOs can be better partners to their partners – website edition

DMOs need to help their partners - Tourism Currents

We’ve shared thoughts before about how to build a stronger team of tourism partners, and 3 ways for a DMO to be a better community partner, but now we’d like to address a big problem we see in tourism partner online presence.

Bottom line: many of your partners really need your help and expertise regarding their websites.

We see SO many websites that aren’t quite up to par, or are nonexistent. DMOs can do a lot to help with their partner’s success by checking on their partner’s websites to make sure a few vital things are covered. Partner websites don’t need to be anything fancy, but they do need to take care of some basic items.

DMOs are the leaders in their community when it comes to tourism marketing, and it behooves all DMOs to do a quick audit of their partner websites and make sure the basics are covered because, as we always say… “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

DMO partner websites checklist

So what exactly should DMOs look for in a quick website audit? Here’s a list of 7 items:

1. Make sure hours, address, and contact info are all correct and easy to see. Let us say that again –correct and easy to see. So many websites make you dig for that info. Phone numbers should be click-to-call, and any special holiday hours need to be updated and accurate across partner websites, Facebook Pages, and Google My Business listings, too.

2. Check that it is easy to navigate. Make sure website information is organized in a simple and structured way.

3. It MUST be mobile-ready. Is the website responsive? No discussion on this; it just must be done. Mobile traffic is already greater than desktop, and Google is penalizing non-mobile sites in their search engine results.

4. Are there quality photos on the website that showcase what the business, hotel, attraction, or restaurant is about?

5. Is there a strong Call to Action on the homepage? Is the content relevant?

6. Does it answer the “What’s in it for me” questions that visitors will have?

7. Is there a decent, high-resolution map that shows where the business is located, or a link to Google Maps for visitors to be able to navigate to the business?

Audit extra points – for those partners who have their website basics in good shape, you could do a quick check on their SEO. Search engines must be able to find the business based on relevant keywords. Check page titles, meta tags, and headings (on-page SEO) so that potential visitors and customers can find your partner online.

No website? That’s a problem

For those partners that don’t have a website, it’s important that DMOs stress that a Facebook Page is not enough. Businesses need to own their own online “real estate” which means control of their own website.

Partners simply must understand that any social media platform could disappear any time (bye-bye, Google+) and with that, all their years of posts and photos go away, too.

DMOs should have a list of those who can develop low-cost, simple websites for partners that do not have one.

We recommend that people first look in their own backyards and see if the local Chamber of Commerce has website design members. If not, we know that our colleagues at Back To You Marketing, Website Mojo, and Websites in WP offer simple partner sites. If partners want to DIY, then Squarespace or WordPress are great options.

Something to think about…do partner websites welcome ALL visitors?

In this page about promoting accessible tourism for everyone, the United Nations estimates that there are over a billion people worldwide with disabilities. If you’ve never thought much about what your disabled visitors have to deal with, read these insights from 7 disability travel bloggers.

Accommodation is not only physical things like ramps or Braille on ATMs; it includes online accessibility.

In the U.S., some websites are being hit with non-ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant lawsuits. We all need to become more aware of the importance of making websites ADA compliant so that all visitors, guests, and customers can get the information they seek.

Here is an article from Entrepreneur about steps to take for ADA compliancy.

Below is a quote from CWS, a web development company, in their blog post explaining why websites need to be ADA compliant:

“Currently, there is a safe harbor clause that allows your existing content to remain as it is, unless altered after January 18, 2018. However, the guidelines do pertain to any page that has been updated after that date. So if you want to avoid the legal costs of being found non-compliant with the ADA, it’s best to make the necessary changes to your website now.” 

AudioEye offers digital accessibility solutions, too.

Like we said, something to think about and help your partners understand.

Did we miss anything about helping improve partner online presence through their websites?

Tell us down in the comments.

PS. We talk about tips for a better website in Lesson TWO of our self-paced online course in social media and digital marketing for tourism. Our course is more than a class. It’s an ongoing knowledge bank and consulting resource, including Q&A with us, continuous course updates, and a private Facebook Group. Clients never lose course access, either.

By all means, contact us if you’re interested but have questions. Thanks!

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