The Easy Button: Does Your DMO Have One?

the easy button[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]In today’s fast paced way of life, who doesn’t want things to be easy?  Everyone is so busy, our schedules so hectic that anything that makes things easy is welcomed with open arms.  Staples, the office supply store, really nailed it with their “Easy Button” campaign.  Need toner for your printer?  Press the Easy Button.  Need your office supplies delivered on the double?  No problem – just press the Easy Button.  Staples recognized a consumer need in the marketplace, and developed a strategy to fill the void.  Genius.

The Earthquake in Haiti

I got to thinking about this strategy while following the news about the Haiti earthquake disaster on Twitter.  It was such a horrible situation.  Such incredible need.  The American Red Cross (and several other charitable organizations) responded to that need by making it easy for all of us to help.  Their method was astonishingly simple.  It’s something most of us do everyday without a second thought.  The answer?  Send a text message with “HAITI” as the subject to 90999.  The results were overwhelming.

As described in this CNN article on the fund-raising campaign, the American Red Cross raised $3 million in two days.  Then it went viral.  People posted messages on Facebook and Twitter, and by the third day, $8 million was raised.  Why?  Because they made it easy for people to help.  According to this article in TechCrunch, by the end of the third day over $10 million had been raised.  There’s no sign of this slowing down either.

I believe that people want to help others, given the opportunity to do so.  Sometimes, though, things get in the way.  Or we don’t know how to start.  The American Red Cross, Yele Haiti, and others responded by offering us a way to help by simply picking up our mobile phones.  Easy.

I’m proud to say that the travel industry also found a way to make it easy for people to help.  In addition to some of the airlines flying relief missions to Haiti, several of them are providing the opportunity for people to donate frequent flier miles to aid in the relief effort.  Some airlines are even rewarding members with bonus miles after making a monetary donation.  Hotel chains are also stepping up by giving loyalty club members the opportunity to donate loyalty points.  This article provides more detail on what some airlines are doing to help.

Make It Easy for Your Digital Visitors

There’s a message here for the travel industry in general and destination marketing organizations (DMOs) specifically.  Make it easy.

No one has the time or the inclination anymore to click through multiple web pages to find the travel information they’re looking for.  They need to know where to go and what to see in your destination before they can make any travel plans, so why not make it easy for them to find it?

There are lots of DMOs out there that are making it easy for visitors and potential visitors.  Columbia, South Carolina is one example.  Their easy to navigate website provides multiple ways for people to find out what’s going on in “Famously Hot” Columbia.

On their site you can:

  • make hotel reservations
  • order a visitor guide
  • link to their social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for even more great information
  • check out the hot travel deals
  • view an interactive map, and
  • view listings on things to see and do, restaurants, and events.

And you can do all of this on the website’s home page.  Columbia, SC makes it easy.

What About Mobile?

With the advent of the iPhone and other smart phones, people are increasingly getting their information on the go.  With a smart phone, you can browse the Internet or get information via any of the tens of thousands of smart phone applications.

Back in September of 2009, La Quinta launched an iPhone app that helps users find and book a room at the closest La Quinta property based on GPS coordinates.  It also provides mapping to help you find your way there.

Many cities and attractions are using iPhone apps to provide visitor information and even digital tour guides.  Charleston, SC has an app that is a guided walking tour of the city.  The Houston Zoo has an iPhone app that displays photos and videos of the animals, as well as daily “Meet the Keeper” talks and presentations.

The Portland Art Museum uses an iPhone app to “supply visitors with information, interactive maps, and rich museum walkthroughs featuring audio and video.

There are so many other excellent examples of DMOs, hotels, and attractions making it easy for their visitors.

What Can Your DMO Do?

Okay, now it’s your turn.  Sound off.  What are some other ways that the travel industry can make it easy?  What am I missing (a ton, I’m sure!)?  Do you have some examples from your destination you’d like to show off?

Let’s hear from you.  Ready, set, make it easy!

Photo courtesy of spackletoe.

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2 Responses

  1. I took a look at the Colombia, SC CVB site and I have a different opinion than you on its usability. You have 10 seconds at most to engage a visitor when they land on your home page. In the first 3 or 4 seconds they are looking at your page to determine if they will hit the back button or look further. At least 60 percent of visitors will not scroll beyond the fold (what you can see on a normal monitor without scrolling) so many of the features you discuss will never be seen by them. So one of the prime features, Columbia Reservations, is never seen by sixty percent or more of the visitors. Sorry, but in my mind that is not an acceptable bounce ratio. If Columbia, SC used site analytics they would see that bounce rate and that would suggest a site redesign.
    The design of a DMO/CVB’s home or landing page is one of the most important aspects of website design. You expend much effort on Search Engine Optimization and Social Media components to pull visitors to your site — you do not want to lose them via a bounce in the first 3 or 4 seconds.

  2. Thanks for your comment Jack. You make some very good points, and I appreciate your input. Using my monitor, I am able to see reservations, the calendar of events, their social media links, and deals. While this may not be everything a tourist might be interested in, I think it offers enough to entice visitors to look further.

    But this is why I wrote the post. This is only my opinion, and I’m glad you’ve offered your two cents. My goal is, after all, to make it easy for travelers.

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