Different approaches to web marketing: visiting York

28 09 2010

This summer we went to York for two days (one night). Looking for a nice but cheap accommodation in the city centre we found a nice Hostel – The Fort Boutique. It was open from just three weeks, but there was a good amount of information on the web: facebook, twitter and a blog. It had especially a good rating on hostelworld and travellerspoint with many reviews. They’ve started their web marketing before it was open, starting from Twitter and Facebook accounts and posting pictures of the work in progress.
When we arrived we had to go at Kennedy’s bar, just beside the Hostel, to check in and drop the baggage (only a small one, but still..). The Hostel was very nice, still with some works on the way to be finished, but the welcome was warm from the Duty Manager, the cleanliness was perfect, the environment gave an idea of youngness and we were very happy. Until the night (!). The problem wasn’t what we were expecting (noise coming from the road –  as other comments reported online), but the bathroom in the room didn’t have a door (yet) but only a curtain and the fan in it was on for 1 hour after you’d switched off the light. Of course the first thing we thought was that, being the room an “artistic room” probably the artist arranged the toilet to be like that. But that wouldn’t explain how I could have scratched my hand on a sharp tile by the door frame. So definitely a door was in plan to be put there. Too much hurry in opening before the York Races going on that very week-end and the Hostel wasn’t finished.

Definitely the web marketing strategy the Hostel had was paying back. It was fully booked and had (and has) an excellent rating online. The blog is updated at least once a month (answering customer questions and complaints) and the facebook page at least every ten days (not much though).

To find something to eat for dinner that night hasn’t been very easy. Every nice restaurant we had advised on the guide (and checked online) was fully booked or with a table at 6 pm (too early for us) or by the toilet door (not a very nice place where to eat: I wonder why you place a table there!). But, while walking in the city center, we came across a nice looking restaurant Kuja Lounge. It didn’t look expensive and seemed to have a nice choice on the evening menu.

Problem: we couldn’t find any information about it online. Not even the official website was  coming up on Google.  Time was running low (around 5 pm – late to book a table in UK) so we decided to take the chance and book a table for two at 8.30. When the owner (or the manager, I don’t know) opened the restaurant diary it was pretty much empty. We were scared for sure. If a restaurant is good, in a week-end where York has about half a million visitors you expect it to be full. But we were wrong.

Kuja Lounge is a very nice restaurant where very good food is served and attention to details and to the customer are given. There were about 8 tables in when we arrived including a table of 10 people (noisy) and there were 1 bar tender and 3 waiting on staffs. We had to wait some minute before they could have taken the order but the waitresses were always kind and apologizing for the delay. Water came even before we could have ordered it, just to give us something for the waiting time (10-15 minutes… nothing!). We really enjoyed the evening.


Kuja doesn’t have a web marketing strategy and we decided to go there only because more popular restaurants (online and on the touristic guide) were too busy. It definitely has a good product and is in a very central position (even if a bit hidden). But its positioning online is poor and that affects the business. In the long-term I’m sure that the word of mouth will do. But how many customers has it lost during the years that it will take? When we went to Kuja it was open from just 3 months. But the hostel web strategy proved us that the customer relation is built even before you open.


Visit Wales and web 2.0: a public office working on Social Networks

10 11 2009

On Monday the 2nd of November I’ve been to the Third Tourism Summit, organized by the Wales Tourism Alliance. The summit was interesting for many different reasons, but I went there mainly because of the presence of the Visit Wales Digital Marketing Team. I followed from the beginning the experience of VisitBritain (here, in Italian) because it was a nice case of touristic promotion made by a government agency (considering how many problems Italy had with Italia.it), so I took the chance to see who’s behind Visit Wales, how they work and what they do. (here the explanation of what is Visit Wales in relation to the Welsh Assembly Government)

A big difference between VW ad VB is the domain .com. VW has changed his very first page in January 2009 to increase the usability and the content flexibility:
  • In VW.com the touristic offer is segmented in order to orientate the visitor to what he’s looking for: golf, walking, fishing, business, and the generic domain .co.uk. There is a section where people can choose the different languages (I might be offended because Italian is not present!) and great attention is paid to the social networks with links to the facebook, twitter and you tube accounts, even if there are no sharing links in the web-site contents;
  • In VB.com the page shows many countries’ flags re-directing the visitors to their language web-sites.
The first thing that impressed me when I’ve seen it was the simplicity, but is a shame that the same template is not available for the other languages. Perhaps this is because the best part of welsh tourism is from other UK countries (Usa and Canada as well I guess, considering the accurancy of the dedicated web sites). Apart from the German web site all the others are less attractive and structured. Wouldn’t be better to consider also other markets where the potential demand is high? As well the sentence in the middle of the page “For those looking for holidays in Britain, Wales has so much to offersuggests the subordination of the Welsh tourism to the British one.

Answering to the questions I wrote before, behind VW there are three functional departments, one of which includes the Digital Marketing Team. Lead by John Munro and Bethan Richards the orientation to the web2.0 is very high: a Facebook page with more than 47 thousands fans, a Twitter account with more than 15 hundreds followers, and a blog with topics about the holidays. Very important is the attention paid to the network they built: answers to the Twitter followers including documents from summits so to keep the customer loyalty and the web response high, increasing the brand awareness.
In the era of Social Networks the “word of mouth” communication has become “share” (just as the links you can find everywhere to post on FB, twitter, diggs, ect…) being there is important but much more important is to take part.. or share!
(more information on the digital team business framework, the action carried out by VW against the digital divide in the tourism promotion will follow soon)

Italia.it o no? L’esperienza Britannica di Visitbritain

19 02 2009

Leggevo su Roberta Milano della domanda continua sulla necessità o meno del portale turistico Italiano. Roberta sostiene che effettivamente ci sia uno spreco di risorse (finanziarie in primis) nel promuovere ogni regione singolarmente, oltre che uno spreco di “informazioni”: dire Italia o dire Liguria, all’estero, è molto diverso.
Qualche tempo fa avevo parlato del portale di promozione turistica Britannico (visitbritain), dei suoi pregi e dei suoi difetti (qui invece qualche vecchio post su Italia.it). Non avevo notato al tempo, anche perchè non conoscevo la realtà britannica, della forte differenza tra le macro regioni al suo interno (wales, england, scotland e north Ireland), della concorrenza che si fanno (anche sul piano turistico) e delle rivalità che pervadono i loro rapporti (soprattutto nei confronti degli Inglesi).
Ovviamente su Visitbritain una grande visibilità è lasciata alla capitale Londra, penso soprattutto per il numero di visite annue che registra (e che registrerà quest’anno, grazie soprattutto allo scarso valore della sterlina: bell’anno per decidere di andare a lavorare in Wales!!), ma non è “Londoncentrico” come la Francia per Parigi.
Sul portale, dove la mainpage è molto corta per non essere dispersiva ma sufficientemente piena delle informazioni per una ricerca approfondita, ci sono anche i link ai portali delle 4 macroregioni più “il meglio di Londra”, lo” Yorkshire” e “visit london” (anche qui una predominanza.. continuo a sperare non casuale).
Le pagine delle varie aree sono costruite con la stessa architettura, per non disorientare il turista che cerca informazioni e per uniformità dell’offerta.
Girando su VisitWales ho trovato anche una sezione dedicata ai professionisti del turismo dove frequentare un corso online sul Wales, per imparare a venderlo ai propri clienti (io inizio a frequentarlo, tra l’altro essendo sul campo..).
Tirando le somme, ritengo nuovamente utile prendere VisitBritain come punto di riferimento per la piattaforma di Italia.it: l’autonomia delle varie regioni è garantita, pur in un’ottica di promozione unificata con un’occhio al mercato (Londra è e rimane, una delle maggiori attrazioni del Regno Unito, pur con l’HomeComing Scotland 2009…).


7 03 2008
Su segnalazione di Roberta ho dato un occhio al sito visitbritain.it, il sito dell’agenzia del turismo inglese, che promuove la Gran Bretagna in 36 mercati internazionali. Molto semplice nella veste, di un’accessibilità disarmante rispetto ai siti istituzionali che riguardano turimo in italia, fornisce un utile strumento per i viaggiatori che volessero organizzarsi un soggiorno nel Regno Unito, consentendo loro l’acquisto online di vari servizi in modo da formare un pacchetto (anche se “pacchetto” di fatto non è perchè non composto almeno da 2 servizi tra alloggio, trasporto e altri servizi accessori, offerti ad un prezzo inferiore rispetto alla somma dei singoli servizi). Molto bella e utile, soprattutto per quel che concerne il Brand Awareness, l’idea di differenziare il sito in base al dominio: .it per il sito in italiano, .fr per quello in francese, .pt per il portoghese e via dicendo (notare che se si digita .com si arriva in una pagina dove sono presenti tutte le lingue nelle quali è disponibile il sito.. la loro bandiera è quasi nascosta!!).
L’utente può inoltre iscriversi al sito e inserire commenti o raccontare da zero il suo viaggio, in perfetto stile web2.0. In verità i racconti che ci sono per il momento sembrano scritti dallo stesso pugno: mi puzza di operazione meramente commerciale.
Non è però così marcata l’attenzione verso il b2b. Non si accede infatti ad un’area riservata alle agenzie di viaggio dove intrattenere rapporti commerciali ed effettuare prenotazioni commissionabili (quindi non è un sito b2b!!). C’è un’area riservata agli agenti di viaggi: prima di fare un educational sul suolo inglese ci si documenta e tuttal’più si comprano biglietti per le visite.
In fin dei conti non mi sento di dargli un voto negativo, anche se penso che l’organizzazione francese in merito sia invidiabile (nonostante la poca disponibilità verso le altre lingue): il sito di val d’isere e la sua funzionalità sono un qualcosa che in italia, e soprattutto in liguria, non si potrà mai vedere a causa della poca disponibilità a cooperare degli operatori economici (albergatori, ristoratori, ecc..). Ma su quello che succede in val d’isere prometto posterò più in seguito.