This is a guest blog post by James Street, co-founder of the international travel guide franchise, My Destination.
This project was first conceived late last year when we created a document called our Next Generation Strategy, which outlined our grand plans for My Destination. This covered everything from the new features we wanted to build, down to the overall experience we wanted our users to have on the site. To sum this up in a sentence, we want our users to come on the site and get inspired to travel, to get great information about any destination they choose, and to get a complete overview of prices so they can go ahead and book their experience as well. Essentially, to be a one-stop shop in travel. This is no easy mountain to climb and so we decided that, like any BIG undertaking, it must be done in stages.
The project we just completed we named Project 1.5, and is the first of several stages to reaching My Destination 2.0. In Project 1.5, we set out to tackle some of the more immediate problems that we wanted to fix on the site, whilst revamping some existing features, as well as adding some new ones. It turned out to encompass a lot more than this!
Ignoring the smaller stuff, these are the top 3 things we think we achieved along the way:
1. To Inspire People to Travel!
When you come on the sites now, you are met with beautiful images, quotes, and professional-quality videos and industry-leading panoramic virtual tours (3,000 in total and growing). These, together with close to 1,100 articles and a quarter of a million photographs, are all aimed to inspire and inform users who have visited the portal 18 million times in the last year.
2. Convey Our Message of Local Expertise
We are different from other travel guides out there because our sites are run by people who live and breathe their destination – our local experts, our franchisees. And we continue to build on this unique selling proposition. So on the new site, we are providing local tips from our experts at each location, as well as their expert reviews on a whole heap of other topics.
In addition, all of our destinations have been making “Handmade in” videos to show who is behind the website. That’s because if we’re going to talk about local expertise, then it’s important that our users see the people behind it. My Destination is about the people, and that’s what makes us real and a little bit more special compared to the other sites.
3. Increase our Offering
We don’t just want people to research their trips with us, we want them to see the best prices online so they can book it all up as well. We have partnered up with global providers for accommodation (Hotels Combined), flights (Sky Scanner), car rental (CarTrawler), and travel insurance (WorldNomads), and we will also be implementing restaurants and activities booking soon.
We still have a few additions to Project 1.5 to come, like the tagging feature which will really help users search for the right business. For example, in restaurants, you won’t just be able to search for type of food and location, you could search for a family-friendly restaurant with outdoor dining and a view to die for. Our tags will really help narrow down the business you are looking for.
The next step is to focus on building our Members Area to get people talking about our destinations, asking questions, adding travel articles, writing reviews, and generally “talking travel” on the sites.
Plans are already underway and so begins another part of our journey to being the best travel website on the planet!