The DestinationCore guide on how to create an excellent events and culture offering on your destination website in a post COVID-19 world. BIDs and DMOs pay attention!
The variety and quality of a destination's cultural offering has long been recognised as one of the key factors in why consumers choose to visit a town or city.
In a post COVID-19 world we need to review our approach to carefully curating these experiences to bring people back into our locations in a safe and sustainable way. It's essential to provide consumers with the confidence they need to truly enjoy their experiences.
Now more than ever destinations need to be more adaptable as businesses and attractions reinvent their approach to experiences.
With this in mind, we've put together this short guide on how you can use your website to help users find the experiences they're looking for.
Think about what you offer and what the end user is actually after - and then find the crossover.
Users don’t want to have to trawl your site looking for an experience that matches their requirements – and they certainly don’t want to have to search multiple sites.
If possible, use your site to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for all the experiences in your area, and don’t be afraid to include cultural offerings in areas beyond your remit - as a visitor, you’re not too worried about geographical borders. By showcasing a wide cultural offering you’ll attract more visitors to your website and increase exposure for the businesses you represent.
Think carefully about how you categorise the experiences, and where possible provide users with well-constructed filtering options so that they can quickly and easily find the things which they are interested in.
And don't forget to find ways to reassure, as much as possible, that businesses are following hygiene criteria and offering clear instructions on how to stick to the latest government guidelines around social distancing. This could be as easy as adding in an icon to represent which businesses have self-accredited as 'COVID-Secure'.
Not every destination has Manchester or Glasgow’s vast variety of culture, so don't try to compete. Instead, focus on your point of difference.
Celebrate what’s already on offer through all the providers or attractions in and around your location. Do this and you might just find that your niche independent offering or unique points of local interest are more attractive to some consumers then that on offer through the UKs 'big cities'.
You know your destination better than anyone. Users are looking for you to provide guidance, knowledge and expertise.
Experiences aren't all paid offerings. Think about highlighting locations or sites that have specific historical or cultural significance such as movie locations, or even just great instagram opportunities? These type of visits give potential for wider engagement and often create a more memorable impact as part of a visitors itinerary.
Create useful content on your site using your knowledge of the local area to make recommendations for how consumers can get the best out of their time in your town or city. Think ‘top 10 attractions on a rainy day’, or ‘the must-see events this spring’. Don’t be broad, be specific – this is how you can encourage visitors to discover something new, or stay longer in your destination.
Learn from the masters of the internet – Amazon. When displaying search results suggest some alternatives that the end-user might also like but don’t necessarily match their search criteria. Make sure it’s obvious by using headings like ‘you might also like’, or ‘you could also consider’ to segregate these suggestions from the main search results.
Be an authority – you know your destination better than anyone.
Users hate long lists which seem to go on forever. They are boring and make it difficult to differentiate one experience from the next.
Where possible use ‘cards’ (or boxes) to display results – these are easier for users to read over long lists of text.
Create hierarchy on listings pages by showcasing ‘featured experiences’ at the top of the page in bigger boxes – you can prioritise these however you want, by date, by size, by location (especially great if users are on a mobile). Think about what’s important to you and the businesses you represent, but most of all what’s useful to the user.
An important component in attracting visitors to a destination is the retail offering.
COVID-19 puts a new perspective on high street retail, but it's still going to have a role to play in attracting visitors to 'experience' your location.
People are hungry to get back to the 'normal' which at this point in time doesn't really exist, however what you as destinations have the chance to architect and lead is what the future looks like. It doesn't have to be the scary unknown if communication is consistent and clear about which businesses are open and which are following government guidelines. Your destination retail businesses are just as keen to sell as visitors are to get out, start buying again and supporting.
It's important that in tandem with experiences and culture, retail is also given share of the limelight - over time consumer confidence will grow the 'visitor experience' will evolve, and retail will be a part of the equation. What's essential here is to keep information up-to-date and to keep communicating.
The team at DestinationCore have been building destination websites for over 15 years. We’ve been there, we’ve seen it and we’ve got the t-shirt. Our experience of the industry means we know how to create a great user experience, and what to do in order to increase user engagement and drive more visitors to your website. Most importantly (for our clients at least) we understand what drives users to take the actions that help destination marketeers provide value to the businesses they represent.
Want proof? Take a look at some of our case studies.