Owning a Tourism Business is awesome

7 Dec 2006

Your Webmaster: Tips for a Good Relationship

Your webmaster (or more accurately, your web designer) is an important part of your web team. So it is more than worth your time and effort to build a strong relationship with him or her.

Here are five things you can do to keep the lines of communication open between you and your webmaster.

1.Be specific in your requests. He can't read your mind. If you don't tell him exactly what to do and how you want it to work, you'll be disappointed. The first round of communication is dependent on you.

Specifics include colors you like (either by color code or an example from another site), graphic styles you prefer (based on a graphic you can point to), the way a page functions. Include URLs for the examples and don't be shy about including more than required.

2.Keep an open channel. Use an email address you check frequently. Respond to her questions quickly. She's "into" your project now. If she has to wait 3-4 days to get answers, she'll have to start working on someone else's project in the meantime. Then it takes her longer to get back to your project. The poor workflow slows everyone down.

As an alternative to an email address, consider an Instant Messenger account. Depending on the times of day that you and your web designer are working - and whether you're both awake at the same time - email may be more efficient.

My web designer and I are 12 hours apart, so he's awake when I'm asleep, and vice versa. However, when we're working on a quick turnaround project, I'll stay up later so we can exchange emails about the project more frequently. And when I'm turning in for the night, I always send a message to that effect so he won't be expecting a quick response.

3.Keep an open mind. No one is perfect. Your webmaster should feel free to ask you questions, even if it might appear that he knows less than you thought. That's not generally the case; instead, he's asking for clarification. Or information.

It's not unusual for my webmaster to email me to ask if I know of a resource that does "xyz." Or he'll tell me he's not the person to do that task; that I need to look for someone who can do "abc." That feeling of "you're okay, even if you don't know everything" is very important to open communication.

4.Say thank you. Just a short thank you in response to exceptionally fast turnaround or a great job or a surprisingly wonderful job goes a long way.

And if you're willing to share, refer others to your web designer. She'll appreciate the additional business and will be extra careful to give you continued great service in exchange for more referrals.

5.Pay promptly. When you first work with a web designer, they may ask for payment up front or immediately after finishing the job. Don't wait two weeks to pay them. They need their money now. They should provide you with a link for payment, so use it quickly.

When you follow these guidelines, you'll find that your work gets done faster and with greater efficiency. Because you are saving your web designer time and trouble, your work will be something she looks forward to receiving, rather than dreading.

And you'll both save time - and most importantly, you'll save money as a result!

2 Dec 2006

Advertising your tourism business on Yahoo!

For tourism businesses with a limited online-advertising budget (i.e. most of us!), Yahoo!'s featured directory listings are a great way to reach out to millions of potential customers. Having your company's Web site featured in a directory listing is actually very easy.

First, you'll need to get your site listed in the appropriate Yahoo! directory. Type your company name in to the Yahoo! search box. If your site doesn't appear in the search results, you will need to submit it for consideration. Unfortunately, this process can take a long time. Currently it's taking 2 to 3 months...

Your other option is to use Yahoo!'s Express Service, which provides expedited listing. There is a US$299 annual fee for this service, and there's no guarantee that your site will actually be listed — only that it will be reviewed within seven days. However, if you don't want to wait a long time to be added to Yahoo!'s directory, this may be a great choice.

Once your site has been listed in a directory at Yahoo!, upgrading to featured status is easy. You will need to pay a monthly fee, which is determined by the directory where your site is located. This fee can vary from $5 to $300 per month. All you need to do is provide a credit card and your monthly fee will be automatically deducted along the way.

Featured listings appear before the rest of the businesses in a directory, which means that you won't have to worry about having your company buried far into the listings. This is also a benefit for business owners who are having difficulty optimising their site for Yahoo!'s search engine.

So, what does featured status actually do for your resort's site? It provides targeted advertising, and targeted advertising means the right people will see your listing: people already looking for a vacation or diving in your destination. Once your resort or op is featured in a directory, your listing will be one of the first results when customers perform a search in your area.

With more small businesses jumping on the Internet every day, it's getting harder and harder for companies to retain their current customers and attract new customers. With literally thousands of choices for online shopping, it can be almost impossible to entice customers to visit your site first.

Having a featured listing removes much of this concern, since most users will click on the first match they find. If your site is at the top of the list, there's a much better chance your listing will be clicked on, as opposed to if your listing does not appear until page 20 of a user's search.

For SME tourism businesses worried about advertising costs, Yahoo!'s fixed monthly fee is certainly a benefit. Knowing how much your advertising will cost each month makes it a lot easier to stay within your budget while still reaching out to millions of new potential customers.

Another way to guarantee appearing on Yahoo! is by buying keywords through Overture, a subsidiary of Yahoo. With Overture's pay-per-click products, you purchase keywords related to your business. Then, when Web surfers search for those keywords, your listing will appear in Yahoo!'s Sponsor Results box. Overture's distribution network also includes many of the Web's other top search engines and portal sites, including MSN, Altavista, and CNN.com.

With Yahoo! still the number 2 search engine spot behind Google (albeit a long way behind), your resort should see a dramatic increase of traffic once your site is listed in one of Yahoo!'s directories, and much more should you choose to have your site featured.

Staying on top in Internet business is never easy, but Yahoo! has made it possible for small tourism companies out here in the islands to effectively compete for potential customers, and at a controllable and budget-able cost.